Monday, 30 July 2012 19:07

Rev. Mikhail I. Khorev (12/19/1931 - 5/3/2012) Featured

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On May 3, 2012, the Lord called home a faithful servant and beloved minister of the persecuted church, Rev. Mikhail I. Khorev.  His son, Benjamin Khorev, reflects on his father’s life and ministry:

In 1985, our father wrote to us from prison, “My dear children, the Lord gave me the honor to defend His truth four times as an accused.  Please preserve all my criminal convictions as the most precious family heirloom.  These documents shall be my witness before the Lord.  These sufferings for the cause of Christ are the greatest treasure that I pass on to you as my inheritance.  The Lord has said, “And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.” (Mtt. 19:29)  “He is faithful that promised.”  (Heb. 10:23) My father often repeated an important principle, “A price must be paid for everything!  Nothing is free!”  To enjoy the freedom to preach the Gospel and to bring children and youth to church - someone had to pay the price!  And he willingly paid his share: he served four prison terms for allowing children in church, leading youth services, smuggling Bibles into the country, and conducting Christian summer camps.  He courageously participated in ministry that made imprisonment inevitable.

My father was born on December 19, 1931.  The year marked the beginning of a five year government plan to uproot religion in the USSR.  His father, Ivan M. Khorev, invited fellow Christians to their apartment to celebrate the birth of his long-awaited son (the family also had three daughters).  Ten to fifteen Christians gathered to sing hymns and pray together.  A few years later, someone reported about this gathering to the authorities and in 1938, Ivan Khorev was imprisoned for five years for leading an illegal religious meeting.   Mikhail was six years old when his father was taken by two soldiers at gun point from their home in Leningrad.  My grandfather, Ivan Khorev, said on the day of his arrest, “Dear children, if we don’t see one another again, let’s agree to meet by the throne of God.  When I come to heaven, I’ll be waiting for you next to His throne.”  My father vividly remembered how his father had said his good-byes and waved at them as they looked from the window.  They would never see him again.  

A year after his father’s arrest, in 1939 my father started first grade.  He remembered how his teacher brought him to the front of the class, pointed at him, and said, “Children, take a good look at this boy.  He is a son of an enemy of the state.  No one is allowed to play with him.”  When he came home that day, he shared everything with his mother and asked her, “Why was our daddy called an enemy of the state?”  She tried to comfort him as much as she could, and simply said, “My dear son, let’s kneel together and thank God that your father was counted worthy to go to prison for Christ.  Jesus Christ was accused of greater evils.  Please endure, my dear.”   In 1940, his father wrote a brief, final letter to his wife that simply said, “My beloved, if you hear one day that I have died, do not believe it.  Those who believe in Jesus Christ do not die, but pass from death unto life.”  He wrote these words just hours before he went to be with the Lord.  My father’s mother became a widow at the age of 38 with four young children.

For many years they’ve struggled without means to survive and were ineligible for any government assistance, as a family of an enemy of the state.  But his mother endured all these hardships without complaining and never regretted the choice their family made to follow the Lord.  Our family grew up in a small, two room apartment in Chisinau, Moldova.  Our father would come home for two to three days at a time and then leave for two to three months.  I had asked him once, “Where do you live?”  “My dear son,” he responded, “I have a hundred homes.”  As a child, I could not comprehend: if my father is so rich, why do we live in such a tiny place?  When I grew up, I realized that thousands of Christians in cities across Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan welcomed him into their homes, allowed him to stay in hiding, and to keep safe Christian literature.  

In 1966, my father was arrested together with Georgi Vins and sent to the infamous KGB prison in Lefortovo, Moscow.  On day 14 after his arrest, he was brought in for questioning.  The meeting was attended by a new person who refused to give his name or title.  He began the questioning, “We are familiar with your ministry.  Why don’t you limit your activity to your hometown of Chisinau and stay at home.  You have an ill wife and three young children.  If you agree with our offer, we will classify your current arrest as a minor violation.  Our agents, not an angel from heaven, will release you.  A note to allow your release will be kept at this office; all you have to do is knock on the door of your prison cell and request to see the investigator.  That will mean you consent to accept our terms.  You’ll be able to continue your ministry in Chisinau, but from now on you’ll have to follow our instructions.”  My father chose rather to suffer with God’s people than to enter into any agreements with the enemies of the Church.  That marked the beginning of a two and a half year imprisonment. 

I remembered his second imprisonment on December 19, 1969.  Days before Christmas, he took us to a store to buy us presents.  Two people followed us as we walked home.  As soon as we returned home, someone rang the door bell.  Two policemen entered and showed us an arrest warrant.  Our father gathered us for prayer; we knelt down, and the two policemen took off their hats.  “My dear Lord, please compensate my absence in the life of my family by Your presence,” he prayed.  A police car waited by the entrance to our apartment building.  Three years later, he was allowed to return home to us.  Our father loved us, but he loved Christ more! When we celebrated our birthdays, our mom always left an open chair at the table and said, “Children, let’s leave this chair open in honor of your father.”   Years of imprisonment ruined his health, most notably his feet.  He bore in his body “the marks of the Lord Jesus.“ (Gal. 6:17)  Yet when asked, “Brother Mikhail, how are your feet?”  He would usually reply with a smile, “My feet are keeping up with me.  I hope they will continue to serve me until I reach the heavenly Jerusalem.  Once there, the Lord will give me a new set of feet.”  His life-long principle was, “Better to wear out, rather than to rust up.”

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