Arrest and Imprisonment of Rev. Ivan Voronaev (1930)
The (un)Forgotten: Story of the Voronaev Children
Missions & Intercultural Studies
Dony K. Donev, D. Min.
Presented at the 40th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies
The enormity of the movement could not be left unnoticed by the Bolsheviks. After crashing every form of organized life in Russia, sentencing for life in the death camps of Gulag or simply shooting on the spot every leader and visionary of freedom, the atheistic government turned to the only organization apart from the Communist party that could still gather thousands of people – the Christian Church. The persecution of evangelicals was ordered from the very top and began with a full force.
First, in the winter of 1929, the Voronaevs were thrown on the street from their home on 22 Jukovskaya Str. and the father was constantly called and harassed by the Communist police. As soon as a friend took them in his home at 8 Arteoma Str., Ivan was arrested and beaten severely.
Over 800 Russian pastors were arrested and imprisoned in 1930. Some of Voronaev’s closest coworkers, among which B.R. Koltovich, were also taken away by the KGB and Ivan knew his turn was coming soon. His son Paul recalls him praying and “…. pleading with God for days for strength and courage…. Then it happened. It was a cold winter night, we were asleep. It was after the midnight hour. We were rudely awakened by a pounding at the door and someone calling with a loud voice, “Open the door, in the name of the law.”
After a thorough examination of their quarters the agents confiscated boxes of Bibles and religious literature and Rev. Voronaev was taken away.
“Mother walked silently beside him. In a moment, life had become a vacuum; husband taken from her, six children to care for, the youngest not even three years old. How could she endure it! …. Once more father embraced mother and tried to comfort her with the words “Cheer up, dear Katusha. God will take care of you … go back and take care of the children. Everything will be all right …”
For the next several months, Rev. Voronaev was moved around from prison to prison, “….battened, tortured, and kept without visitors or mail privileges. Then without trial, he was sentenced to lifelong exile in a Siberian prison.” On one rare occasion, his second oldest son Peter was allowed to visit him in prison for a period of 10 days. Peter took the difficult journey alone and travelled 11 days by train to Moscow and Kotlas, riverboat to Yst-Vym and secretly hidden on the back of a prison truck to the Siberian consecration camp of UFT-Uza reaching his father’s prison barrack at last. It was the last time any of his children ever saw him.