OCTOBER 14, 2020
Brother Ivan Puyda courageously faces criminal prosecution, drawing strength from the faithful examples of his father and grandfather
Brother Ivan Puyda has fond memories of his father coming home in the evenings and reading My Book of Bible Stories to him and his seven siblings. He vividly remembers preaching with his father, Grigoriy, in their small village of Kvitok, where he would regularly call at the homes of his teachers and classmates. As a teenager, Brother Puyda worked unassigned territory with his maternal grandfather, Brother Pyotr Partsey, where he saw up close his grandfather’s zeal for the ministry and self-sacrificing spirit.
Brother Puyda often observed both his father and grandfather reading the Bible and Bible-based publications. He made it his goal to follow their examples.
However, Brother Puyda, now age 41, is following in their footsteps in an unexpected way—being arrested and jailed for being a servant of Jehovah. Federal Security Service (FSB) agents arrested Brother Puyda on May 30, 2018. He spent four months behind bars. After his release, he spent another six months in house arrest. His grandfather, Brother Partsey, was arrested and served time under both the Nazi and Soviet regimes. Likewise, his father, Brother Grigoriy Puyda, was imprisoned by the Soviet Union.
Brother Ivan Puyda states: “The apostle Paul wrote at 2 Timothy 3:14, ‘Continue in the things that you learned and were persuaded to believe, knowing from whom you learned them.’ Knowing the ones from whom I learned the truth gave me strength. Neither the political system nor prison could break them, and persecution is not forever. Now I follow this path, looking to their examples. As long as I remain faithful, I know what the result will be.” Brother Puyda is awaiting the outcome of his case.
He said whenever his father and grandfather would tell stories about prison, they wouldn’t talk about the conditions. They would talk about their experiences in preaching the good news.
Grigoriy, now age 64, was baptized in 1975 after having already served one year in a Soviet labor camp for refusing military service. He was released in 1977. He served another year in prison in 1986 for possession of banned theocratic literature. His father, also named Ivan, served time in a labor camp from 1944 to 1950 for his Christian neutrality.
Grigoriy says: “Having developed a strong faith helped me to endure the persecution. I didn’t doubt for a second that I was walking in the truth and that Jehovah is the true God.”
Now his son, Ivan, is having the same experience. “I remember the Soviet years, and I see the same thing is being repeated,” Grigoriy says. “Therefore, I pray that Ivan remains faithful during this trial and sanctifies Jehovah’s name with his endurance.”
In 1943, Ivan’s grandfather, Brother Partsey, who has since passed away, was sent to the Majdanek camp and later to Ravensbrück by the Nazis for refusing to sign a document renouncing his faith. He was freed by the Allied forces in 1945. He was arrested again in 1952 and sentenced to death by execution. However, his sentence was commuted, and he was released in 1956. Brother Partsey was arrested once more for his faith in 1958 and released in 1964.
“My grandfather’s example of integrity has strengthened me,” says Ivan. “When he is resurrected, I will tell him that I, like him, faced such trials and his example inspired me to remain faithful and courageous.”
“Nobody can deprive me of my faith and love of my God, Jehovah,” says Ivan. “I have repeatedly told investigators: ‘The most you can do is arrest me and put me in jail, but as for the rest of your threats, you are powerless.’”
What helped our dear brothers during their trials?
Ivan states: “At Acts 14:22, we read, ‘We must enter into the Kingdom of God through many tribulations.’ Every Christian will go through trials. This is not necessarily referring to a prison sentence. It can be a personal illness or the death of a loved one. Everything depends on our attitude and our spirituality. Jehovah is always ready to support his people.”
His father, Grigoriy, relates: “Strengthen your relationship with Jehovah. Become his true friend. It is important to find convincing evidence that the truth is worth making any sacrifice for. Your efforts will be rewarded.”
It is encouraging to read accounts of how Jehovah has supported our brothers and sisters who are persecuted for their faith. We continue to pray for our brothers in Russia to remain courageous and to gain strength from Jehovah’s promise: “Do not fear . . . Your reward will be very great.”—Genesis 15:1.