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  • Micah Coate

Vanya Moiseyev: The Success of Failing To Re-Educate

Updated: Apr 27

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind”

— Paul to the church in Rome (Romans 12:2).

Ever since the Fall of humanity the “pattern of this world,” as described by Paul in Romans 12:2, has inherently been opposed to the Kingdom of God. As the Apostle John clearly summarizes, ”For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father…” (1) Likewise, Paul stated that those who follow the 1 “ways of the world” — (as we all once did) are actually being led by Satan, described as “the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (2)

Yet, from time to time, this malevolent system, usually lurking behind the celestial curtains of life and largely disregarded by the masses, openly reveals itself for all to see. One such time was  Communism in the 18th century. Particularly, the Soviet Union with its militant atheism. (See:  Old Militant Atheism and New Thought Police). Yaroslavsky, one of Stalin's devoted aides, made the group’s mission very clear when he declared, “It is our duty to destroy every religious world concept… If the destruction of ten million human beings, as happened in the last war, should be necessary for the triumph of one definite class, then that must be done and it will be done.”  (3)

During this time, if religious people were not outright murdered, they were sent to re-education “camps” or prisons. These places were where ideological dissidents were sent to undergo re-education or indoctrination through intimidation, starvation, threats, beatings, and more of the like.

Although Yaroslavsky first declared the mission of the Union of Militant Atheists in 1929, the character of our story, Vanya Moiseyev, found himself in a re-education camp in 1972. He was only 20 years old. His crime? Faith in Christ and unwillingness to remain silent about it. The born-again Moldovan and follower of Jesus joined the Red Army for a two-year stint in 1968. Although Vanya would often pray to God to excel in his duties as a serviceman and make a good soldier, he was only met with severe interrogations. Unsurprisingly, being a “good soldier” in the Red Army was quite different from being a “good soldier” in God’s. In this case, the two had no overlap—as Vanya found out quickly and painfully.

Because of Vanya’s resistance to deny God and his insistence to tell others about Him, he was routinely starved for weeks at a time, made to stand outside his barrack all night long in nothing but his summer uniform, and made to suffer many other persecutions. While these trials were physically and emotionally taxing on Vanya, he was miraculously encouraged and strengthened through them. Frostbite, which would have taken the extremities of any other soldier, had no effect on Vanya. Being withheld food for weeks, Vanya’s empty stomach would often feel quite full.

Consider this account: After his arm and chest were crushed by a broken drive shaft when working underneath a large truck, Vanya was hospitalized in critical condition. After three days of trying to control Vanya’s high temperatures and fix his smashed arm, gangrene had unfortunately set in. The surgeon and his science-minded, atheistic staff informed Vanya that he had no option except to amputate his arm the following morning. Vanya’s superiors in the Army found great joy in this prescription as he would be rendered handicapped and finally discharged—the problem of a religious dissident would no longer be their concern.

But upon hearing the news of amputation, Vanya replied to the surgeon that God would heal his arm to reveal Himself and that no amputation would be needed. On the morning of the surgery, when Vanya awoke, his arm was fully restored and he was able to breathe without pain. Just as he said, his injuries were miraculously and supernaturally healed! The surgeon was in a state of unbelief. Yet, he telephoned the Lieutenant Colonel with the preposterous, but true story that Vanya had been phenomenally healed, just as he had predicted the day before. “Colonel, for the first time in my life I see that there really is a God. He healed Moiseyev! His condition is perfect. Even with months of work, I could have done nothing like that!” (4)

Because of this, the Army could not afford to have Vanya’s faith and the miracles that accompanied it spread. The young soldier was finally sent to a re-education prison. Yet, after more torture and interrogations, Vanya was sent back to the Army with paperwork that read, “Unable to re-educate.”

Sadly, because this 20-year-old Christian was unwilling to compromise his convictions, he was violently murdered in Crimea by the Red Army. On July 16, 1972, just before his two-year period in the military would have ended, Vanya met his Maker. While his mind was renewed by the Spirit of God, his body was put to death by the spirit of this world.

Whether it comes through secular education, political propaganda, Christless philosophies,  the pattern of this world, the spirit of the age, or the new Christian deconstructionism,  Christians are being re-educated. Regardless if we admit it or not, in this world, we’re all in the same giant re-education camp, most of us just have good food and a nice house to live in to make it less traumatic.

As Voddie Bachman, a vocal Christian against critical race theory, rightly said “We cannot  continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come  home as Romans.”(5) Yet, this is only a microcosm of Christendom in general. If the body of Christ does not go out of its way to “demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and… take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (6) we will lay prone to worldly re-education. We have to be vigilant about what comes into our minds, our eyes, and our ears.

This is why Paul wrote, ”Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable if there is any excellence if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things." (7)

Christian, in a culture more tolerant than what Vanya lived in but no less deviant, may we have the mind of Christ. May we not be conformed to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the constant renewing of our minds. Upon the end of our lives, and hearing those blessed words, “Well done, good and faithful servant!,” (8) may the spirit of the age say of us “Unable to re-educate.”

But what do you think?

Micah Coate, President and Host of Salvation and Stuff 

  1. 1 John 2:16, (NIV).

  2. Ephesians 2:1–2 (NIV).

  3. Alfred McClung Lee, Elizabeth Briant Lee. The Fine Art of Propaganda. Octagon Books, 1972, p. 90.

  4. Vanya: A True Story, by Myrna Grant, Charisma House; 2nd edition (July 12, 1996), page 104.

  5. Voddie T. Baucham Jr., Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk with God.

  6. 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NIV).

  7. Philippians 4:8 (ESV).

  8. Matthew 25:23 (NIV).


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