294 – Oct. 21 – This Day in Baptist History Past


Persecution before Communism in Russia

 

 

 1870 – Vasilia Ivanhoff, was baptized in the Fiflis River, following his conversion to Christ, having been born under the government of Elizabethpol, Russia in 1848. He is one of the prime examples that persecution in Russia against the Gospel of Christ, and especially against Baptists, was in full effect even before the Communist revolution of 1917. Soon after he was saved, Vasilia was called to preach the gospel, and from that time he began to experience severe persecution. As he traveled without a passport, which was denied, he was arrested, tried and exiled. In 1895 he again was arrested and served in Siberia for four years as a beast of burden, chained to fifteen other men and made to grind corn on a treadmill. Under his ministry a Baptist church was established at Baku, his home town, which soon consisted of three hundred members. His testimony at sixty-three was that his persecution began at age twenty-two when he became a Baptist. He said, “Since that time most of my life has been spent in prison and exile.” He said that he had seen the inside of thirty-one different prisons. “…I have baptized over fifteen hundred men and women, most of them at night in some lonely place away from the eyes of the police. Often I have chopped through the ice in order to administer baptism. Once I baptized a group of eighty-six persons.”  Vasilia, and others like him, are the forebears of the unregistered Baptist church movement in Russia that survived the Communist era that still exists today. [J.N. Prestridge, Modern Baptist Heroes and Martyrs (Louisville, Ky.: World Press, 1911), pp. 23-24. This Day in Baptist History II: Cummins and Thompson, BJU Press: Greenville, S.C. 2000 A.D. 576-77.]   Prepared by Dr. Greg J. Dixon

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