The communist guard taunted Aida with packages of food sent by Christians in the West. "He told me that it contained chocolate and other good things," Aida said. "It was not given to me, but it was an encouragement to know that my friends cared about me. That fact meant much more than the food."
Aida was serving her fourth prison sentence in her homeland of Russia, this time in a labor camp where conditions were horrid and food was scarce. She had been outspoken in her witness, and her frail body was paying the price as the communists tried to crush her spirit. Despite their best efforts, Aida's faith and perseverance only grew stronger.
Aida, a gifted poet, had defended herself at her previous trial. Her words were secretly recorded and smuggled out of the country. They were translated and widely distributed as an encouragement to Christians around the world.
During her trial, she defended herself with this bold statement of faith:
For the Christian there is only one course. The Christian can't be anything but confrontational. Once you know the truth, this means following it, upholding it, and if necessary suffering for it. I can't be different. I can't act any differently. I love freedom and would very much like to be free with my family and friends. But I don't want to act against my conscience. What good is freedom to me if I can't call God my Father?
Aida's first formal arrest came at the age of 25 when she and her friends were caught worshiping in a forest. All attempts to "re-educate" this bold young woman during her one-year prison term were unsuccessful. Upon release from prison, she was neither intimidated nor weakened in faith.
Aida continued to speak about the persecution of Christians in Russia, distributing their stories throughout the underground church. This enraged Soviet authorities even more, leading to her three-year term in a labor camp.
When The Voice of the Martyrs published Aida's story (the picture above is from the November, 1972 newsletter), she began to receive care packages from several of our worldwide missions. "It is a great joy for us to experience definite spiritual fellowship with Christians in different parts of the world," Aida said. "This gave us hope in prison. I want to send an expression of love from us all to those who have cared about us and prayed for us."
Aida currently lives in St. Petersburg, Russia. The Voice of the Martyrs is privileged to continue providing her with support. You can read Aida's story in VOM's book, Hearts of Fire.
Editor's note: VOM's newsletter this month focusses on writing letters to Christians in prison in hostile and restricted nations. You can order a Letter Writing Kit from VOM, and also use the online tools at www.PrisonerAlert.com.