So what are we reading?
Children of the Storm, by Natasha Vins
It is an autobiography of Natasha of her experiences growing up as a persecuted Christian in the Soviet Union in the 60's and 70's. Her father was a leader in the underground church--this had tremendous impact on her life.
Her teachers say things to her (at age nine) like this:
"Natasha Vins, come forward, stand before the class, and tell your comrades. Is it true that you believe in God?" I felt a sudden panic. Like a little animal being hunted, I wanted to hide, to become invisible.
"Well? How long do we have to wait?" the teacher repeated in a stern voice.
Slowly I walked forward and turned to face the class. Tense silence hung in the air. Quietly, almost in a whisper, I said, "Yes, I believe in God."
"What's wrong with you?" the teacher exclaimed angrily. "Are you that ignorant? Didn't you read what Yuri Gagarin said after he returned from his space flight? It was in all the newspapers. He did not see God anywhere! You're in the third grade already! The Soviet State is making every effort to give its children the best education in the world, and here is the result. How shameful! Go to the principal's office..."
Can you imagine your nine year-old facing that? It only gets worse for her. She is forced to take "atheistic instruction" regularly. It is hard to comprehend, isn't it? We have such freedom here in the US.
The fact that this is a true story makes it all that more powerful--to me and to the children. I am very grateful for what we have here--freedom.