The curiosity of where my grandmother lived as a child was supposed to be just that. Records for her village were supposed to be destroyed during bombings in WWII.
Luck finally came my way in the form of a man who loves studying the history of his hometown, my grandmother’s former village. The acquaintance from a forum, Oleg, finally found the street where my grandmother lived as a baby.
Oleg hinted at that there was more than an address coming my way. I stopped my imagination from going too wild about what else I would learn about my grandmother’s childhood.
As soon I read the records Oleg found in archives outside of Kiev, Ukraine, I was shocked but not surprised. Great-grandpa was hosting an Evangelical Baptist church in his house in 1921, a time when the government killed people for practicing religion. (See Wikipedia’s page on persecution)
My great-grandfather was known for being very religious. He left behind two journals of biblical passages. His longest letter to his children about his family’s history, included a plea to his son to become a preacher. That plea fell on deaf ears.
Great-grandpa was even tenacious enough to send his sister in the USSR packages of clothing with hidden biblical passages when he lived in Berlin, Germany. No one was going to stop him from sharing his faith.
He was smart enough to keep the church quietly in a resort town, where people on the street where my great-grandparents lived and kept the church probably assumed a large family was gathering on a regular basis.
Then, my great-grandfather took his faith to a more noticeable position. Almost a year after he brought the church into his home, a document from archives shows he acknowledged the church as an official member of the Evangelical Baptist Union of Kiev. My great-grandfather signed the document as chairman of the board for the Evangelical Baptist Union of Kiev.
Nothing else is known about how long great-grandpa was hosting a church in his house nor serving as chairman of the board.
But today, a newer Evangelical Baptist church exists in my grandmother’s village, now a 35,000-resident suburb with high-rise apartments. The church (pictured below) has been open to the public for 50 years.
My great-grandfather’s name of Tikhon, meaning quiet, served him quite well. He hid a marriage and a child from his second wife and a church in his house and kept quiet about his work with the Evangelical Baptist Union of Kiev.
Finding the address where my grandmother crawled as a baby has shown one piece of information can lead to so much more.
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