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world’s first communist state. He was
a ruthless ruler who had no regard for
the sufferings of others and mercilessly
crushed anyone who opposed him.

At one time, he sent a telegram to
his Comrades instructing them to crush
the opposition in their districts. lenin
informed them that they should pub-
licly hang those who opposed them so
that it would instill fear into the people
who saw the hangings. He also told the
leaders to seize their grain and publish
their names.

atvians have suffered untold misery
at the hands of the Soviet Union.

After taking over Latvia in 1940, the
Soviets began deporting the elites to
the Soviet Union. When they reoccu-
pied the country after the Nazi German
occupation, they severely punished the
latvian people for alleged collaboration
with the enemy and for resisting Soviet
occupation. There were mass deporta-
tions. They did this to enforce their po-
litical and social policies and to silence
their opponents. In one night, 15,500
residents were arrested without a court
order and sent to other regions. Among
them were 2,400 children under the age
of 10. The Soviets sent thousands of
latvians to GUlAG prison camps in
Siberia. They were herded into cattle or
freight railroad cars. Many of the sick,
elderly, and infants died on the way.

After the fall of communism that
had enslaved, oppressed, and persecut-
ed latvians for decades, the people in
anger and frustration toppled the huge
statue of lenin, and his head rolled into
the weeds. Statues of lenin were de-
stroyed in other places in cities and vil-
lages in latvia.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch and
had sweet fellowship with our new
friend and his family. In the afternoon,
our host’s pastor and his wife joined us
l M ary r ay with interpreter a ngela
and shared stories with us about their
years in the underground church. They,
along with their fellow Christians, had
suffered abuse and persecution. Some
of their brothers and sisters in Christ
had been imprisoned and some gave
their lives for the cause of Christ. In-
stead of being bitter, the pastor and his
wife rejoiced that they had the privilege
of suffering for the lord Jesus Christ.

hey had to worship in secret, but
still they were faithful. The pas-
tor’s wife explained, “We only had one
Bible in the whole church, and each
family was allowed to carry it home for
a week.” She said, “We were so excited
T continued on page 15
14 • NATIONS