Ivan Voronaev: The Death of a Hero is a Legacy to Remember
THE LIFE AND MINISTRY OF REV. IVAN VORONAEV NOW WITH A SPECIAL ADDITION OF THE (UN)FORGOTTEN STORY OF THE VORONAEV CHILDREN
A more recent research, which came out after the writing of this first paper, proposed the discovery of a letter documenting Ivan Voronaev’s death on November 5, 1937. Such claim, especially coming from a single document, is the least to say suspicious, as it undermines the findings of leading Pentecostal historian, Vincent Synan (mentioned above) and the testimony of over 500 Russian Pentecostal national leaders placing Voronaev’s death some seven years later. It also contradicts the testimony of Voronaev’s wife and children, who continued to speak in defense of his release in churches all over the United States well pass 1937 (especially pass 1940).
If such document was indeed authentic, it is quite questionable that it has never surfaced before regardless of the numerous writers and researchers, representing at least a dozen of institutions and that many denominations, over the period of 100 years never came across such letter. Our team itself spent over ten years, with the help of friends and colleagues both in the United States and Russia, researching archived materials and documents, which had not been taken out of the boxes and shelves for decades, and we were not able to find even one concrete reference as per Voronaev’s time or cause of death. Not even his family knew, not even his children.
It was not until the 2010 Society for Pentecostal Studies meeting in Minneapolis, when this present research brought about that Voronaev could have in fact, under severe physical a psychological pressure, signed a document refuting his faith and work as a Pentecostal minister. This is part of history, which none of us would like to believe, but was completely possible under the Communist Regime and did occur time and time again in the lives of many Pentecostal heroes of the faith, making their testimonies not one bit less believable or inspirational. And though we strive to estrange from any conspiracy theory, this all looks very much like a political cover up and a clean house operation.
But who then, would have had such an increasing interest in recent years to go so deep into Bolshevik KGB archives, gaining access in offices and places where no one has been able to penetrate before? Certainly defending the honor of Rev. Voronaev was not at stake here, as no one, not even his most fervent critics for one moment believed his denial from the faith, as stated by the Communists. Such action was strongly refuted by his wife upon her arrival in the United States and even if it occurred in truth and reality as historical evidence, makes very little difference in the rich heritage Voronaev has left in Eastern Europe and global Pentecostalism.
So if Voronaev’s legacy was not at stake here, then whose? Perhaps, someone else’s honor had to be defended. Like the honor of an organization felt threatened by a story of its own, kept as a cold case for years now, but coming alive resurrecting memories and livelihoods and guilt? Or perhaps a party so mighty, so powerful, so strong that it could not bear the burden of martyrs it buried below? In all cases, such defensive and definitive action can come only from human organization based on man made polices and rules, which Voronaev rejected and fought from the moment he was saved from this world to the moment he was sent into the world to come.
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