A native of Soviet Russia during the communist regime, George Fridlender shared his passionate, thankful heart for finally being allowed to come to America and live in a free society.
Talk about making one feel bad for taking our situation for granted. I was so ashamed of how we carry on in this country as if we don’t know how blessed we are.
In the communist Soviet Union, Mr. Fridlender’s father was a Christian and participated in meetings with other fellow Christians in an “underground church.” After being arrested for secretly practicing his faith, he served 17 years in a Siberian concentration camp. Few people survived the camps because of poor nutrition and grueling sub-zero temperatures, but George’s father was strong and somehow managed to live through the miserable ordeal. After finally being freed, he eventually married and George was born when his father was close to 50 years old.
The father’s dream was to bring his family to America because he believed every person in America was a Christian, and if he could just get them here, everything would be fine – they would have a chance at a good, free life.
George described his own experience of being arrested, questioned, and sentenced to prison but in a miraculous sort of way – thanks to the help of a missionary sponsored by Americans – he was able to experience salvation and boldly speak up to his captor. Soon being freed, George was completely astounded by the way God had worked in his life.
George’s father became terminally ill and finally obtained medical passage from Russia to come to the United States. Due to his extremely bad health, he made it only as far as Austria. After the elder Fridlender’s death, George and his mother were able to finish the trip and realize the father’s dream, arriving in America and eventually becoming naturalized citizens.
The man’s testimony sent chills up and down my spine and brought tears to my eyes as he described his early life and I compared it to growing up in Corinth. Today George continually tells Americans how thankful we should be for our freedom and how imperative it is that we share our faith with those around us – since we don’t have to sneak around with our knowledge of God and His grace, we should never stop telling people the Good News.
One thing that made the speaker’s testimony so profound for me was that I had watched the televised recognition of the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy on June 6 and was so moved by the ceremony. The backdrop of thousands of glistening white crosses that represent over 9,000 Allied soldiers lost in the invasion had prompted quite a history lesson that morning as my grandchildren and I discussed the event. After five-year-old Christian got over the surprise of someone having a name like “Adolph Hitler,” he was shocked to also learn that a man could be so mean and cruel.
… So Sunday’s message reminded me that had it not been for the determination and sacrifices of thousands of American soldiers, my grandchildren could have been faced with circumstances similar to George’s. Such thoughts I don’t want to entertain even for a moment.
We say over and over how blessed we are and how thankful we should be for our freedoms in America, but then we seem to get beat down by all the conflicts and politics that go on in our government. As Mr. Fridlender said, even with all the problems we have here, we still live in the best country in the world. We should rejoice in that fact as we take advantage of the privileges we have as a result of the sacrifices made by our brave men and women.
God has been so good to us – let’s not let Him down by ignoring His blessings.
(Lora Ann Huff is a Wenasoga resident and special columnist for the Daily Corinthian. Her column appears Friday. She may be reached at 1774 CR 700, Corinth, MS 38834.)