On April 1, 2019, the same Russian court that sentenced Brother Dennis Christensen to six years in prison convicted 56-year-old Sergey Skrynnikov for practicing his faith as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. The court imposed a large fine of $5,348.00 (RUB 350,000; EUR 4,758.95). No prison time was ordered, although the prosecution was seeking three years of detention.
Brother Skrynnikov and his wife, Nina, have one daughter. They assist their daughter and her husband with their five children. Additionally, the Skrynnikovs are the primary caregivers for Nina’s elderly parents.
In court, Brother Skrynnikov made a respectful and compelling defense of his faith. He said, in part: “If you look at the current situation from an unbeliever’s viewpoint, you might despair. . . . But as one of Jehovah’s Witnesses, I look at this situation through the eyes of faith. If God permits me to be convicted, it means that I need to view these three years not as a punitive sentence but as a special assignment to serve in a new location! So I do not despair. . . . God is one and the same whether we are free or in prison. Therefore, we are not abandoned. He is with us everywhere as long as we stay faithful to him.”
We are encouraged by the strong faith of our fellow believers, such as Brother Skrynnikov. When we think of the severe trials they are facing, we echo the apostle Paul’s prayerful words: “May the God who gives hope fill you with all joy and peace by your trusting in him, so that you may abound in hope with power of holy spirit.”—Romans 15:13.