Escape From Russia
A Flight From Death
A true story of how God miraculously saved a Christian family faced with the tragedy of disappearing forever into the Gulags of Communist Russia, and brought them instead to a new life in America.
“We, who were able to escape all this evil, were unwilling travelers who were forced to leave a comfortable life in a place that we loved. We had to become refugees, homeless vagabonds, for awhile, wandering in search of a new home. Our hope was in God alone; it is all that we had, but it was all that we needed. We knew that He would provide us a new home, just as He had provided for our ancestors who came to Russia long ago to find freedom. I believe that our escape was an absolute miracle from God, and for that we are eternally grateful.”
Crossing the Amur River
Illustration by James Converse
Used by permission.
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This was the last time that I was in my parent’s house; but before I left, my sister Maria came in. We had said, “Farewell” several days ago; they lived about eight miles from our place. As we were talking, we said that we would likely never see each other again or meet in this life. We should strive to meet each other again in the glorious presence of our Lord and Savior in heaven when our early course was run.
I then took her hand, kissed her farewell, and said I wished that they were coming along with us. She gave me a look that I could not forget for a long time. She tried to say that if I, her brother, had been a little more persuasive, things might have been different. We did not want to persuade anyone since we knew nothing of the difficulties we should encounter in the flight. I have never forgiven myself for not encouraging her more for coming with us.
The following year, she and [her] sister Anna drove to Moscow to emigrate from there to Canada. They were sent back to Siberia; all their finances had been used up in traveling. Her husband literally died of starvation. They were labeled as enemies of the nation because they wanted to leave. The communist farms would not accept them. Maria died of starvation and [her] sister Anna and her family were sent into banishment, where they perished.
[Editor’s note: Years later, as he stood in his barn, the author, Henry, would recall his soul’s anguish that evening before leaving his home for good. He wrote, “After I came home in the evening from Bible study…I stood in the barn and look at the two cows, the two pigs, the chickens. For the last time I fed the horses oats. I let my tears flow freely, heaved a sigh to God and asked myself where I would be tomorrow this time…in China or in the jail of the border guards.”29]
Finally the morning of the day of departure from our village of Lichtfelde had come. Our neighbor, G. Kope, had been hired to take us to Slavgorod in a big horse-drawn sleigh. All the money my wife and I had, had been sewn into the clothes that we were wearing so that no one would have the opportunity to steal it. At seven o’clock in the morning, we left while it was still dark. Our farm was second from the north end of the village. We had to drive to the south end to leave. I asked Mr. Kope to drive slowly so that I could take a last look into every yard we passed. It was here in this village that my wife and I had walked the length of the street countless times, and it was here where we had spent our best years. Now, we said “Auf wiedersehn” forever.
When we came to my parent’s yard, in the middle of the village, ……