Our Pop’s Story continued…
This is our Pop’s story dictated verbally by him a few years ago. I’ll be sharing excerpts every Tuesday. When I add to his story or explain a photo I will Italicize my words. Our Pop’s words will not be italicized. Our mom does not come into Pop’s story until “Tuesdays With Moisi ~ 9” even though I’ve posted photos of her before #9. I have very few photos from our parents’ life in Russia and Persia. At the end of my Tuesday posts I’ll add links to all the other posts.
At the Billy Graham Crusade in August of 1963 my wife’s and mother-in-law’s prayers were answered as I went forward and accepted Jesus as my Savior. Not long after this Nadia asked our Molokan pastor why Molokans did not allow for water baptism in their faith. His only answer was that Molokans are baptized with the Holy Spirit. That was not an adequate answer for me. In studying Scripture, I came to understand that water baptism was a necessary step of obedience for a Christian. Before I was baptized in 1969 I informed my parents of my decision to get baptized and join Bethany Baptist Church. They then disowned me. I was quite hurt by their reaction, but went ahead with my decision. ( The rift with my parents was real. However, when they were in their final days, Nadia and I were the ones who took care of them in our home until their respective deaths.) In the years following my conversion, we conducted evangelistic Bible studies with our Molokan friends. The response was relatively small but significant, because those who did respond stayed true to the faith.
Our paternal grandparents, Timothy (Red Beard) and Martha Bogdanoff.
The following is from Pop’s/Dzeda’s eulogy read by his granddaugters at his funeral in July of 2018… (the babushka and Dzeda spoken of here is our mother, Nadia and our pop, Moisi. Hope these inserts aren’t confusing…
All the while Babushka persevered in praying for Dzeda’s salvation. Her prayer was answered in 1963 when Billy Graham came to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum for a crusade. Our Aunt Ellen recalls, “I was in the eighth grade and attended the crusade every night with my father. I’ll never forget the night my dad got out of his seat and made the long walk down to the field to acknowledge God’s call on his life. What a glorious day!” It was not only a day of celebration but also a time when lives were forever changed.
Becoming a believer came at a high cost for Dzeda. Family and friends would question his decision and many ostracized him calling him a traitor from the tradition he grew up in. Because of that we learned what true courage and sacrifice looked like to follow Christ. Dzeda never stopped honoring his Molokan Father and Mother. Dzeda loved his Molokan, brothers and sisters and prayed for them often and loved to share the Good News with them and what freedom in Christ looked like and could be.
More of my memories from this time in Moisi’s and our lives…
My love for singing started in church. In my father’s Molokan church growing up into my teens singing was acapella. There were no instruments in the church and the songs were mostly from the Psalms in the Old Testament portion of the Bible. My father was a “songleader” in this church. For Easter and Christmas we would visit my maternal grandmother’s Russian Baptist Church where we enjoyed singing with piano and organ. In junior high school, choir was one of my classes and I was introduced to notes and music. After my father attended the Billy Graham Crusade in Los Angles in 1963 he started a new life of following Christ as his Savior and we eventually left the Molokan Church. We started attending my maternal grandmother’s church. At the Baptist church my sisters and I were part of the youth choir which eventually worked on recording tapes of Russian hymns for Far East Broadcasting and Slavic Gospel Association to be broadcast into the Soviet Union over radio waves.
When Moisi finally decided to be baptized in 1969 his parents disowned him and would not speak to him. Some of his Molokan friends called him a frog. Pop didn’t share this in his story but I wanted to add to this part of his story. Our pop and mom visited our paternal grandparents once a week during this time and sat with them in silence. At the end of their silent visit our pop and mom would stand up to leave and always say to our dzedushka and babushka, We love you. Our parents never stopped honoring their parents even through this hard time. This love and honor wore our grandparents out and there came a day again when they spoke to each other again. As our pop shared in his story my parents were the ones who cared for his parents in their dying days. The photo below is from the Russian Molokan Cemetery in the City of Commerce in Southern California where our paternal grandparents and other relatives are buried.
Moisi with his daughter Kathy at the gravesite of our paternal grandparents taken in September 2014.