Hello, dear Heartdwellers! Peace and grace be upon you from our Lord Jesus Christ. My name is Anastasia, I am a translator of Mother Clare’s messages into Russian, and today I would like to share with you my testimony about my path, about salvation, love, and mercy of the Lord, what He did in my life, and how He changed me.
I was born in 1982 in the USSR, namely in Russia, which was one of the largest union republics of the USSR, I was baptized in my infancy in Orthodoxy (in the Eastern Orthodox Church), and my mom told me that I was baptized secretly and in another city, since at that time there was a communist regime in the USSR and everything related to the Christian faith was harshly persecuted—for example, even so far as parents being fired from work for baptizing their children in the church. Although my parents baptized me, they were not Christians in the true sense of the word. They were worldly people, far from God, and led a worldly lifestyle without God, like many Soviet people of that time. My baptism was most likely a tribute to family tradition since my maternal great-grandfather (1875-1934) was an Orthodox priest who was repressed during the years of mass political repression carried out in the USSR during the late 1920s — early 1950s. At that time, the Christian faith was severely persecuted, temples and churches were blown up, priests were shot, ordinary believers were either shot, or dispossessed and sent to prison, concentration camps, or exiled to remote northern regions of the USSR.
My great-grandfather-priest had a large family, which he raised in the Orthodox faith. In fairness, it should be added that in the Russian Empire before the 1917 revolution, most people were Orthodox Christians, and despite all the repressions that took place after the 1917 revolution, certain Christian values and traditions were preserved and passed on to the younger generation, including my parents, although in a very weakened degree. And, of course, in the years of my parents’ youth (1960-1970), there were no such cruel persecutions and repressions against Christians, but the Christian faith was still persecuted, and the communist godless ideology was planted everywhere. For example, as I mentioned above, parents could be fired from their jobs for baptizing their children in the church.
Therefore, I can say that my parents were ordinary Soviet people, brought up in communist ideology, but still retaining certain Christian traditions and faith in God somewhere on a subconscious level, which is why they baptized me. But after my baptism, they did not raise me in Christian values or in the Christian faith, since they could not give me what they themselves did not have.
When I now recall my childhood, I can say that I have always known deep down, on an intuitive level, that God exists, that He is omnipresent and omnipotent, and that He hears me, although no one had ever told me about Him. However, at the same time, I DID NOT KNOW Whom Jesus Christ was and what He did for us. I always wondered why He was called the Savior, what He saved us from, why we needed to be saved at all, and what relation He had to God? All these questions were always shrouded in some kind of mystery for me. There was no one to ask about them since our family had no Christian acquaintances. I didn’t know what a church was, what church services were. My parents never attended any church. I didn’t know what prayer was or how to pray in general. If I talked to God, it was always in a simple way and with my own childish words. And the most amazing thing, that I remember, is I almost always got an answer from Him. I don’t remember if we had a Bible in our house, but if we did, no one ever opened or read it. That’s how my childhood passed.
The “Iron Curtain” began to crumble by the end of the 1980s as a result of the policy of transparency (glasnost) and openness carried out in the USSR and Eastern European countries. The symbol of the fall of the “Iron Curtain” was the destruction of the Berlin Wall. The official date of the end of this period was January 1, 1993, although the collapse of the USSR itself occurred a little earlier—December 25, 1991, along with it the communist regime collapsed in Russia.
State persecution of the church (of all Christian confessions and denominations) stopped only in the early 1990’s. For the first time, state TV channels began to show films about Jesus Christ, timed in conjunction with some Christian holidays such as Christmas or Easter, and there was even one children’s TV program that showed the Christian cartoon series “Superbook”, which chronicled the events of the Old and New Testament and began to be shown in Russia in 1991. I remember I always watched this biblical series for children with great pleasure, as well as movies about Jesus. I always wanted to stay longer in the atmosphere of these movies, as Jesus seemed to be very kind and I really wanted to learn more about Him, but there was no one to ask about Him, and, unfortunately, with the end of each movie, the extraordinary atmosphere, into which I was immersing myself while watching it, always ended. All my questions about Jesus and the Christian faith remained hanging in the air. Even when the Christian faith was officially allowed and there was no state persecution in Russia, my parents did not change their way of life and did not become closer to God. In this regard, nothing has changed in the life of our family.
With the fall of the “Iron Curtain”, the information blockade was lifted, and a flood of Western and Hollywood movies and soap operas containing scenes of murder, violence, deception, immorality, and sex, in a word, sin, poured into our country. And I enthusiastically watched all these movies and soap operas, my parents almost did not prevent me from doing this. Sin entered into me and developed in many different directions. I lived in sin. I remember that when I was in high school, one of the main state TV channels began to show a talk show “About It”, which was entirely about sex, and everything related to it. This talk show was shown from 1997 to 2000. I remember my whole class (group) used to watch it at home, and the next day we all discussed it among ourselves in class or at school breaks. This talk show completely corrupted me.
In 2000, I graduated from high school, moved to another city, and enrolled to study at a Pedagogical University at the Department of Foreign Languages. My foreign languages were German and English. During this period of my life, I continued to live in sin and in complete spiritual darkness, without even thinking about Jesus. But there was always a thirst for truth inside of me. I longed to find it, and my search for truth led me to study theosophy, occultism, esotericism, and various New Age practices. Among them were books like “Diagnostics Of Karma” by Sergey Lazarev, “Guardian Angels” by Lyubov Panova, “Ringing Cedars Of Russia” by Vladimir Megre, “In The Light Of Truth: The Grail Message” by Abd-ru-shin, “Conversations with God” by Neale Donald Walsch, books by Carlos Castañeda, Anhel de Kuate, Paulo Coelho, Rajneesh (Osho), books about Kryon channelings by Lee Carroll and revelations from other Ascended Masters, as well as many other similar books, the titles of which I do not remember now. All these books have one thing in common—they contradict the Bible and Christian teaching. But at that time I did not know it and did not even look towards Christianity. I never imagined that I would find the truth there—in Christianity. It always seemed to me very conservative, outdated, obsolete, full of prejudices and erroneous views. I can’t say that I seriously practiced theosophy, occultism, esotericism, or New Age in real life, but I was definitely keen on studying all this. I enjoyed studying and compiling horoscopes and sometimes meditating, but I did not dive deeply into all this. Now I understand that it was the hand of God that kept me from being dragged deeper into this dark, gloomy quagmire. Thank God!!! The Lord acted in my life even then, despite the fact that I was a VERY stubborn, self-willed, and inveterate sinner. It was almost impossible to convince me of anything or dissuade me, I was VERY stubborn and 100% sure that I was right and that I knew EVERYTHING BETTER than others. Christianity was out of the question, to me it was a religion of medieval obscurantism. But God did not give up, He continued to act in my life even then.
In 2004, when I was a 4th-year student, the university trade union gave me a vacation ticket to the Crimea, and so, in the summer of 2004, our combined student teams went on vacation in the Crimea for 3 weeks. It was unforgettable, the nature there is very beautiful! But that’s not the main thing. When we arrived there and began to settle into rooms in the hotel, I don’t know why, but I chose a bed on a large spacious balcony with a roof and a view of the sea. In fact, my bed was almost in the open air (the summer nights in Crimea are very warm). In addition to my bed on this balcony, there were 2 more beds for my neighbors. When I began to make my bed, under the mattress in the area of the head, I found… The New Testament! My neighbors on the balcony didn’t have any books under their mattresses, and no one did, as far as I remember. And I certainly wouldn’t read the New Testament in the summer, during good weather. But it turned out that several people from our team, including myself, caught a rotavirus infection while swimming in the sea and came down with a high fever, while everyone else continued to sunbathe, swim and relax. And that’s when I got a LOT of free time to lie down and read the New Testament. When I look back on this situation, I remember it with a smile, because God’s hand was clearly present in it. I remember that when I read the New Testament, my heart seemed to burn, it’s hard to explain. I remember that I was struck by Jesus’ words where He calls Himself the Bridegroom. Of course, I did not understand their meaning then, but I remembered them.
Upon arriving home, I put the New Testament on the shelf and… completely forgot about it. My life did not change at all, I continued to live in sin and darkness. After graduating from university in 2005, I got a job at a big company, and it so happened that my work had nothing to do with my education. So several years passed.
I was really saved only in the spring of 2011, but 2.5 years BEFORE my salvation and conversion, I had a dream. The scene of the dream was at the seashore, in the evening, at sunset, and I was standing on this seashore. The sea was to my left (I was standing perpendicular to it), and it was very calm. In front of me, very close, stood a certain Man. He didn’t say anything to me, He just looked at me with great love—I felt that He knew me very well from the inside and loved me very much. The feeling in the dream was that this Man was my true love, my soul mate. But when I woke up, I felt very sad, because I realized that I would probably never be able to find this soul mate of mine in real life. And then I had no idea who this Person was. In the dream I was up to His shoulders (my height is about 164 cm/5’-4”/5.4 ft), I also remembered His beard very well, because at that time I really didn’t like men with beards, and I remembered His eyes. He had blue eyes.
Only later, a few years AFTER my salvation, did I understand whom I met in my dream, as I recognized Him in the pictures reconstructed from the Shroud of Turin. There are quite a lot of these pictures, but I managed to find the one in which Jesus most closely resembled the Jesus I saw in my dream. That’s how I recognized Him.
So, I was saved in the spring of 2011 through the testimony of a Pentecostal woman. I am still very grateful to her and to the pastor who interviewed her. I was converted through her testimony, she experienced clinical death (NDE) and visited Heaven and Hell. It shocked and shook me to the core, I became a different person literally overnight. Everything has changed in me—my worldview, values, perception of the world. My former world collapsed and turned 180 degrees and upside down. That’s when I was born again, and I threw out all my occult-esoteric books. Now I understand that I was so stubborn and hard-headed that in my case God had to use extreme means.
After that, I began to talk to God in my mind and in my thoughts. I asked Him questions. He answered me sometimes through thoughts, and sometimes through situations. He gave me understanding about many things; He gave me certain signs, hints, dreams. I realized that He had been present in my life ALL THE TIME up to that moment and had given me certain signs, but I did not pay attention to them.
Since my family had an Orthodox background in the past (I mean my grandparents), I began to attend the Orthodox Church. And imperceptibly for myself, I plunged into religion, into the execution of rules, ceremonies, and rituals. I stopped talking to God in my thoughts, stopped hearing His answers, it’s all gone.
(And, by the way, the Eastern Orthodox Church is a liturgical church, it has apostolic succession, honors the Mother of God, and recognizes the intercession of the saints in Heaven, but this is not about that now).
So 5 years passed. During these 5 years, I became a real religious Pharisee and a bigot, far from Jesus, but I didn’t realize it at all. Exactly 5 years later, in the spring of 2016, the Lord brought me to Mother Clare’s YouTube channel, “Still Small Voice”. It was a huge shock and a real discovery for me – the love of God and a personal, close, intimate relationship with God!!! To say that all of this does not exist in the Orthodox Church is not an overstatement (please understand correctly, I am not scolding or advertising any church, I am just talking about my life, I understand that there are no ideal churches and people).
For the first time in my life, I felt the soft, gentle, and loving presence of God in my heart! It was such a great joy for me!!! And it was so unusual and extraordinary for me!!!
To be continued…