The (un)Forgotten: The Story of Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s Children

June 1, 2014 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, Missions, News

51Sa1IcA8OL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[1]The (un)Forgotten: Story of the Voronaev Children
Missions & Intercultural Studies
Dony K. Donev, D. Min.
Cup & Cross Ministries International
Presented at the 40th Annual Meeting of the Society for Pentecostal Studies

Our presentation at the 2010 SPS meeting in Minneapolis opened a door for discussion of early missionaries to Eastern Europe with a special focus on Rev. Ivan Voronaev. But the story and ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev cannot be separated from his main supporter and partner in the ministry – his wife and children.

During the time of original research, it became obvious that Ivan Voronaev was successful in the ministry both in the United States and Europe only through the obedience of his family. They followed his call for missions, leaving behind the comfort of life in America. The Voronaevs sacrificed the future of their children for the unknown reality of Russia’s greatest depression. The strive for survival followed the imprisonment of both parents along with the virtually impossible task to re-immigrate from Russia and reunite in the United States, and the constant struggle to save their parents from certain death in Stalin’s consecration camps even when all hope was lost.

The Voronaevs’ story presents an early historical case study on Pentecostal missionaries and their children, not only as second generation believers, but as second generation Pentecostal immigrants as well. This example is particularly interesting since it combines both mission and immigration, as integral parts of the Pentecostal identity at the dawn of the movement. To add to this there is the relationship between missionary families and the mission-sending agency, on this occasion being the Missions Department of the Assemblies of God and in part the Russian Evangelical Diaspora.

In this context, the research on the Voronaev family has three distinct parts: (1) life in Russia and the imprisonment of the parents, Ivan and Katherine Voronaev, (2) back to America under the care of Assemblies of God Missions’ Department and (3) and the after years, with a special focus on the life and ministry of the oldest of the Voronaev’s children, Paul.

The research will utilize the available archive information at the Assemblies of God archives in Springfield, MO, as well as some Russian library material from Moscow and Kiev, which have become available after the presentation of our 2010 Voronaev paper. Special attention will be given to Paul Voronaev’s personal correspondence after his return to the United States and subsequent papers, relative to the story of the Voronaev’s children, published by him in later years. As Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s personal end is yet unknown, it is our hope that story of the Voronaev children, will provide a much needed closure to the life and ministry of one of the earliest Eastern European missionaries in Pentecostal history.

The Real Voronaev Children

April 30, 2014 by  
Filed under Books, Featured, News

51Sa1IcA8OL._SY344_PJlook-inside-v2,TopRight,1,0_SH20_BO1,204,203,200_[1]Reflection on The (un)Forgotten: Story of the Voronaev Children
Kathryn N. Donev, M.S., LPC/MHSP, NBCC

The chronology of the history of events in the lives of the Voronaev children is the least to say vague and uncertain. We see only bits and pieces of their experiences. And from what we do know from theses small glimpses, the facts are so disturbing that it is easier to face reality by ignoring it. It’s much more convenient to allow the lives of the Voronaev’s children to get lost in the midst of the politics, procedure and papers (or lack thereof). But, the truth is that “The (un)Forgotten” story is not about the difficulties of anything else but the children. The children are the focus of Dr. Donev’s paper and most definitely should not be forgotten.

Reading the story of the Voronaevs takes a strong heart. It is indeed a sad one that for many of us may seem unfathomable. And yet the sparse historical accounts surrounding their life stories force the reader to confront discomfort. However, the sadist story of all is that when reading this account from the perspective of the children it was not one that I wanted to accomplish. I didn’t want to think about how the children might have felt or what they might have gone through. I refused because it was too painful. It took too much emotional anguish to even think about the pain and trauma that these children went through. Because of my refusal to contemplate the trials these children endured, I was unable to be empathetic. I was powerless to even begin to comprehend what might have gone through the minds of the children who witnessed and experienced events no child should have to. I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be a child with no “home” or much less no country. I was not able to walk a mile in their shoes. I have no idea what it is or would be like to live under Communism or to be the child of a missionary family who had so many struggles, which is putting it lightly only so I can verbalize this unfortunate reality.

When a child is in any manner separated from their parents there becomes a disconnect like no other in which a child begins to have self-doubt, insecurity and uncertainty. When this bond is ripped apart it leaves behind feelings of anxiety and guilt. Yet when a child first hand experiences a parent being dragged off by Communist police in front of them, this leaves an entirely different scar, one which never heals. It is a scar so deep, filled with enormous traumatic stress which no one could possibly imagine. Not to mention the other dynamics of immigrations and foster care that the Voronaev children endured. These children no doubt were left with feelings of loneliness and rejection in one uncertain situation after the other.

So when we look back and we read the history of the complications of obtaining visas and the difficult times of providing a place for these children to stay in addition to worrying about the financial means to do so; when we look at the bickering and shady details of people’s character, we must not over look that there where real children suffering in the midst of the chaos. They were not just characters of a story or pawns in a game. They were real even though they were only foreigners of poor missionaries. They have stories to tell. They have a voice which must be heard. They most certainly were not listened too while they were alive so let us at least do them the justice of listening to their whispers beyond the grave and hear their pain, hear their trials and hear their plea to leave the politics behind and begin to see the true reality of missions work. Too often in the world of ministry, the children are the ones who suffer the most and it is quite unfortunate that the littlest ones go unheard. We must speak for the least of these among us. We can not remain silent.

(un)Forgotten Story of the Voronaev Children

March 30, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, News

For if history indeed forms our identity, we are left without identity once we forget our history. Yes, we still have feature ahead of us, but it is disconnected from our past and from our experience. It is disconnected from our identity and from our story. We still have a future when we forget our history, but it is not our future – it is someone else’s. It is the future someone else wants us to have…

The (un)Forgotten: The Story of Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s Children

July 1, 2010 by  
Filed under Featured, News, Research

voronaev_california1Our presentation at the 2010 SPS meeting in Minneapolis opened a door for discussion of early missionaries to Eastern Europe with a special focus on Rev. Ivan Voronaev. But the story and ministry of Rev. Ivan Voronaev cannot be separated from his main supporter and partner in the ministry – his wife and children.

During the time of original research, it became obvious that Ivan Voronaev was successful in the ministry both in the United States and Europe only through the obedience of his family. They followed his call for missions, leaving behind the comfort of life in America. The Voronaevs sacrificed the future of their children for the unknown reality of Russia’s greatest depression. The strive for survival followed the imprisonment of both parents along with the virtually impossible task to re-immigrate from Russia and reunite in the United States, and the constant struggle to save their parents from certain death in Stalin’s consecration camps even when all hope was lost.

The Voronaevs’ story presents an early historical case study on Pentecostal missionaries and their children, not only as second generation believers, but as second generation Pentecostal immigrants as well. This example is particularly interesting since it combines both mission and immigration, as integral parts of the Pentecostal identity at the dawn of the movement. To add to this there is the relationship between missionary families and the mission-sending agency, on this occasion being the Missions Department of the Assemblies of God and in part the Russian Evangelical Diaspora.

In this context, the research on the Voronaev family has three distinct parts: (1) life in Russia and the imprisonment of the parents, Ivan and Katherine Voronaev, (2) back to America under the care of Assemblies of God Missions’ Department and (3) and the after years, with a special focus on the life and ministry of the oldest of the Voronaev’s children, Paul.

The research will utilize the available archive information at the Assemblies of God archives in Springfield, MO, as well as some Russian library material from Moscow and Kiev, which have become available after the presentation of our 2010 Voronaev paper. Special attention will be given to Paul Voronaev’s personal correspondence after his return to the United States and subsequent papers, relative to the story of the Voronaev’s children, published by him in later years. As Rev. Ivan Voronaev’s personal end is yet unknown, it is our hope that story of the Voronaev children, will provide a much needed closure to the life and ministry of one of the earliest Eastern European missionaries in Pentecostal history.