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Crowns On the Ice

This is a story of a young Russian soldier's experience after he joined the Communist Bolshevik Revolution.


One winter night as we were loading up a trainload of Christians, Ubinov, my direct superior, came to me with papers ordering me to accompany the trainload of Christians to the north. I tried to get out of it, arguing that I was more needed here as there were still many counter-revolutionaries to find, but there was no way to disobey his order. Any disobedience would have meant arrest and almost certain death as a counter-revolutionary traitor myself.

A sick feeling surged through me as I boarded the train. The moans and whimpering of the children in the cattle cars pierced through the tough hide I'd built up. I couldn't help wondering if maybe all this had gone too far. So much of what I'd known growing up had been destroyed, and though we'd had such high ideals, so far those ideals had led to nothing but bloodshed and suffering. The poor were as bad off as ever, or worse, from what I'd heard whispered amongst the soldiers after receiving letters from their families.

I had never written my parents or grandmother since joining the revolution. I couldn't. I wanted to believe they were all right and somehow untouched by the horrors of all that was happening. I couldn't bear to think they might still be considered Christians and taken away too. I didn't want to know, and chose to dream on that they were all right.

After two days of travel we came to a vast frozen lake. I had no idea why we were here. I had heard little of where the Christians were taken or what happened to them, though I had heard that many were executed while others were put in camps. The train stopped and the last cattle car was unhitched.

I was ordered to get off the train, and a small group of us, headed by an officer I'd never seen before, were to be left there while the train went on. Some of the soldiers said it was routine. There wasn't going to be enough room in the next camp for all of the prisoners, so they simply got rid of the extra ones. They would return the next day to pick us up and take the empty cattle car on to its next loading place.

Some of the soldiers laughed and joked about what was to happen, but others were silent and looked fearful. They opened the doors and began forcing the men, women, and children out into the snow and marched them down to the lake.

"Why are we doing this?" I asked the commander. "They'll die out here!"

"What should we do?" he barked back. "The cities are running out of food and these Christians who are traitors are only eating the food that should be for the loyal ones. Mother Russia will be better off rid of such subversives. Now get to work and march them down to the lake!"

It made sense, but watching the children marching to their deaths seemed so wrong. I saw myself as a boy among them, and tears began to run down my face as they were forced to undress and walk out onto the ice to die. That's when that little corner of my heart came to life.

I watched them go forth, not screaming or pleading for mercy, but walking calmly, like their Savior, as lambs to the slaughter. I could see something on their faces which I'd never seen on anyone before. It was as though there was a light shining out of them. They held each other and began praising God for the faith He'd given them.

Then as they began to fall one by one, I saw something beyond words. There was a light coming from somewhere high up in the sky‚ but at the same time very close to the ice, as if it was shining down on that particular spot. I knew it wasn't the sun, because the sun was behind us. As I watched one man, I saw a ring of light coming down toward him. As it descended, I saw it was a crown held by a pair of ghostly hands. I could see right through the hands! Moments after the crown was placed on the man's head, he fell to the ice. I saw other crowns descending‚ and more people dropping. I could tell exactly who was going to drop next by these crowns of light that were descending over each one. And when they dropped, I could still see a glowing image of them standing, tall and strong, floating upward with their hands held out toward the light.

In that moment I realized that all my grandmother had told me was true. I knew Jesus was real‚ but even more, I saw Him not as an angry God who was out to make me suffer, but as a Being of Love--soft, warm, welcoming, and accepting.

There had been one man who'd been lagging behind the others and had been trying to persuade the other soldiers to let him stay with them, but they had mocked him and knocked him around a bit, then forced him onto the ice, telling him he could come back and join them if he denied he was a Christian and that God existed and declared he wanted to join the Bolshevik cause.

After several of the other Christians had fallen, and risen into the light, I turned my attention to this man, who was standing a little apart from most of the others. I knew he felt differently from them because he didn't seem as committed, nor as peaceful about meeting his fate. I was curious what would happen to him, because I did not feel at peace about meeting my fate either. So I began watching him more closely, waiting to see if he would receive a crown like the others. But then he turned and came running‚ screaming that he would join us, denounce anything, do anything, he just wanted to live.

At that moment, something changed in me. I looked at what I'd become. I looked at the other soldiers I was with, and I could see that they were filled with darkness. I hated myself at that moment for what I'd become. I hated them for the evil I saw in them. I knew in that moment that I belonged out there on the ice. I wanted to get that crown.

The soldiers were now mocking the man and telling him that there was no way they could bring him back unless he had a soldier's uniform, so unless one of the soldiers wanted to trade places with him and give him their uniform, there was no way he could get back on the train with them. I knew what I wanted and walked boldly to the commander who was talking to the man.

"He can have my uniform and gun!" I said. "I don't want it. I want to join the Christians on the ice. I saw what was going on out there! I saw crowns being placed on their heads as they went off to be with their Lord. I want that crown.

"It was coming down to you, you fool!" I said to the man. "And you ran right out from under it! I want to go out there and get your crown."

There was shocked silence as I took off my uniform and handed it to the man. I walked out onto the ice, and as I looked back I could see many of my comrades staring at me in shocked disbelief. Some had tears streaming down their faces, and the man who was now dressed in my uniform was huddled on the ground, weeping bitterly.

I knew then that I'd made the right choice. As I walked on I could see the bodies of those who had gone on before me‚ and as I approached them, a light began to surround me. I couldn't even feel the cold anymore, the ice and snow and biting wind‚ because the glow warmed me and made me feel so light--I felt as if I could fly.

I looked up and there in front of me was Jesus with His arms outstretched, holding the most beautiful crown I'd ever imagined. He wasn't the angry Jesus I had always envisioned‚ but the Jesus Who had spoken to that corner of my heart as I watched those Christians receive their reward--the warm, caring, tender, and loving Jesus Who was now looking down at me with the most loving smile--a smile I knew I did not deserve.

Copyright © 1998 by The Family International

Request.
Tess and James Arendt
James & Tess Arendt

My name is James Arendt. I was raised in the Hegewisch neighborhood of Chicago, Illinois, served in the USAF from 1970 to 1974, and became a full-time missionary for Christ living 40 years in Japan, 3.5 years in Russia, and a few months in other countries such as Finland, Poland, Estonia, Latvia, South Korea, Taiwan and mainland China where I also served the King of Kings, Jesus, as an Ambassador for His Kingdom. My full bio.

If you like this website, you can show your appreciation by sending me a gift toward my support. My wife Tess and I moved from the island of Guam USA in June 2023 to the city of Allen in the province of Northern Samar, one of the poorer provinces in the Philippines. My only work is maintaining my websites, Deep Truths, and James Japan which costs me $300 per year now. And Tess is ministering to the local people giving them regular Bible Studies in three groups, children, teenagers and adults.

Photos of Tess's Bible study.

You may like my James Japan site as well because it covers subjects that are not covered in Deep Truths such as things like the Climate Change Hoax and the COVID-19 death-jabs.

You don't need a PayPay account to send me a donation! Just click on the donate button and you will see an option to send through your debit or credit card.


Or if you have a PayPal account, just log into it and send to my PayPal ID:
james.arendt@jamesjpn.net


Comments (1)

Topic: crowns-on-the-ice.html
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Joshuaty nguen (US) says...
great story it's encourage me to live as The Christian they died because the Gospel and their faith, thank you.
18th May 2024 3:29pm
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