New Hieromartyr Nestor of Russia

Priest-monk Nestor

New-Martyr Nestor

In 1960 Nestor Savchuck was born in the province of Crimea in Southern Russia. He was never close to his family, but was always distant from them. As he grew into a young man, he began to channel his energy into wrestling, boxing, and martial arts. He possessed a keen awareness and stood above his peers.

Nestor also had an artistic side, being a talented painter. In his early twenties, he traveled to Odessa to work as an apprentice painting religious murals. In Odessa, he became friends with the older artists. These older artists began to inspire Nestor with stories of righteous men and women who had glorified God through their courageous labors in the Monasteries of Russia over the last 1000 years. Suddenly, a spark was kindled in Nestor’s heart. He began to burn with a desire to flee the vanity of the world and tap into his ancient Christian roots.

Making the resolve to give his life wholly to God, Nestor left Odessa for the ancient 13th-century Pochaev Monastery. Here Nestor began laboring in the dedication of heart, as a monk.

At that time, the Monasteries in the communist Russia were regulated by the government. All the monks we required to be registered with the state, which was atheist. Nestor, protesting against atheism, never registered. In the mid-1980’s the government began to persecute the Monastery where he lived—some monks were taken to prison camps, while some just simply “disappeared.” Because he was not registered with the state, Nestor knew he would be put in prison or killed if he were found by the government officials. So, Nestor continued on struggling against the passions in the war-like conditions, living and hiding as an “illegal” Monk. Nestor, having a strong and brave soul, was soon ordained a Priest-Monk (Hieromonk) at an extremely young age.

Eventually the conditions at Pochaev Monastery became so severe that most of the Monks had either left, been taken away to prison camps, or killed. Nestor set out across the great expanse of Russia’s countryside, and after a long journey, he arrived in the little village of Zharky and was a pastor of a catacomb flock.

As is the lot of those who pursue righteousness, much suffering awaited Nestor. The police warned him of and icon-stealing ring run by the Russian Mafia—gangsters from Odessa who would steal icons from rural Churches and sell them on the black market for big money. Nearly all Churches in the area had been burglarized.

Other difficulties came from local hooligans who hassled him because he was a Priest. One day, Nestor tucked in his long hair and beard, as was his custom when traveling, so as to keep a low profile, and headed out for the bus stop with some important documents. At the bus stop, three drunken youth began to harass him. “Show me your cross!” they taunted him, and began grabbing under his jacket to get at his cross. So as not to allow them to defile his cross, Nestor was forced to deflect their hands. Not knowing that Nestor was skilled in martial arts, the youths tried to attack him, but he dodged their punches and made the fight look more like a dance. Suddenly, remembering that his documents were unguarded, Nestor hesitated; at that moment he was hit with a blow to the eye. Soon the police arrived, but Nestor told them to let the youths go. He hadn’t forgotten the he too had once been a rebellious youth. A month later, the youth who had punched Nestor in the eye, Andrew, came to his house to say he was sorry. After talking to him for a while, Andrew decided to join forces with Nestor, and moved in his house to follow his strict was of life. Soon the ultimate sacrifice of a Christian can give was born in Nestor—the desire to be martyred for faith in Christ.

In 1993 three monks were murdered at the famous Optina Monastery in central Russia. In the 19th century, Optina was the spiritual capital of Orthodox Russia, renowned for its lineage of Eldership which had come down from St. Paisius Velichkovsky. The three monks were stabbed to death on Pascha (Easter) night, during the celebration of Christ’s resurrection. The autopsy showed what seemed to be a ritualistic killing—each had his throat slit, and the stab wounds were in a specific pattern. A blood-stained dagger was found at the Monastery grounds, with the numbers 666 inscribed on the blade. Later, a man confessed to the murders and admitted that the killings were a ritual of a satanic cult and that he had deliberately killed the three best monks in the Monastery.

Nestor often spoke of the Optina martyrs with great reverence, and it became evident that he longed to follow them. He longed for a martyr’s crown himself. Once a friend tried to counsel him that it was better to be longsuffering and endure the tedious trials of life. To this Nestor replied, “You know, my friend, I have such a fiery desire to receive a martyr’s crown because I led a loose life as a youth and lived only for myself. How can I repay God for what He has given me?” The friend replied to him, “It’s too daring to suffer martyrdom; you must suffer for a long time.” Nestor again replied, “Yes, I understand that, but maybe if I will pray for martyrdom—perhaps I will be able to pray it out.”

Truly Nestor was now ablaze with that fire of faith that burns for the other world. He saw death not as an end of life, but as a beginning. His faith was deep—to the extent that he had begun to pray for suffering and even death as an escape from this world, but in order to be mystically crucified with Christ.

Again the Church was robbed. This time Nestor has enough of his poor Church being extorted; he had to do something. Quickly, he spotted a tire track in the snow, leading to a dirt road in the woods, and began to follow it. In the distance was a parked car. To conceal that he was a Monk, Nestor took off his Monk’s cap, pulled up his robe, and approached the car, staggering like he was a drunk. Inside the car sat a gangster who immediately jumped out of the car and attacked him. Once again, Nestor’s experience in martial arts came to his aid; he was able to deflect the gangster’s punches and so buy enough time to get the license plate of the vehicle. Eventually, the police caught the gangsters and returned the Icons back to Nestor’s Church. Word then came to Nestor that, if he pressed charges, the Mafia would hunt him down. Nestor then met with the gangster who attacked him and asked him why he had done it; the gangster replied: “Money.” Nestor asked him if he regretted stealing from a Church and the gangster, without a teardrop of remorse, answered, “I have no regret whatsoever.” Nestor knew he had to make a stand. If he let the Mafia intimidate him, his poor Church would suffer. To one who tried to talk him out of it, Nestor explained, “If these were my personal enemies, I could forgive them; but these men are the enemies of simple believers and of God. They have no remorse for the evil they have done. I cannot let them go.”

Then there began several attempts against Nestor’s life, which he narrowly escaped. The robberies of Icons had become widespread; every Church In the region had been burglarized at least once. Nestor began to guard the Church at night. The Mafia was not just after the Icons anymore, the wanted the young Priest’s life.

On one occasion Nestor a knock at the door. When he opened the door he was held at gunpoint. Not backing down, Nestor fearlessly looked straight into the eyes of the hoods, turned around, walked into his house, and locked the door. The hoods came after him, breaking in through the window. Grabbing a flare gun, Nestor fired some shots to scare them off. But, knowing that he was a monk and priest, and so would not shoot them, they barged through the window. Nestor then ran into his room and locked the door. As he was climbing out of his bedroom window, he cut his arm and began to bleed. Quickly he bandaged his arm and then escaped. As he fled, blood dripped on the ground- in the very place where he would later bleed to death.

Knowing that each day could be his last, Nestor began to double his missionary work. A close of his recalls, “To each he would give his all; they would flock to him. At times it was very difficult. Sometimes he would lock himself in his room for two or three days to fast and pray. In this way he received strength to go on. In the last year that I knew him, he became so deep…a simple depth that came that came from trust in God. He was not afraid of anything. He was an unusual man who gave himself to the will of God. He was fearless.”

Nestor had broken through the wall that separates God and man, and God had become a living force within him. A close friend remembers one of his last conversations with Priest-Monk Nestor; ”We talked about the enemies of the Church. He said to me, ‘Why should we be afraid?’ I said, ‘But those wicked thieves are everywhere!’ He spoke calmly, ‘To all is God’s will. To suffer for Christ – this is a great joy.’ He talked about the spiritual war going on in the world today… He was already prepared for death.”

On December 31, 1993, Priest-Monk Nestor was found dead outside the window of his house, with his throat slit and with multiple stab wounds. The people believe that is was not a simple case of revenge, but was a strategic move in a spiritual war that is taking place today throughout the world. As the forces of darkness increase, the light becomes more visible. The life and death of Priest-Monk Nestor do not represent defeat, but the triumph of God’s righteousness. This is the height of the human experience – martyrdom for the Truth. Hieromonk Nestor passed from this life at the age of thirty-three – the same age at which Jesus Christ was crucified.
In a world void of examples of righteousness these lovers of truth offer a heroic example of suffering for the truth. But their lives mean nothing unless we embrace them by striving to imitate them. Clearly, the message of these righteous ones is one that the world is not the least bit interested in. Those who, like these lovers of truth, have felt themselves out of place in society, who have been devoured and spit forth by the uncomprehending world, can understand the radical call of the last true rebellion.


1 Response to “New Hieromartyr Nestor of Russia”

  1. 1 francisco September 9, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    “Love Not The World”

    ”For the WHOLE world is under the control of the evil one”(I John 5:19)

    “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world will pass away, and the lust thereof: but he that does the will of The Only True GOD will abide for ever.” (I John 2:15-17)

    “If you were of the world, the world would love it’s own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said unto you, the servant is not greater than his Master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept My saying, they will keep yours also.” (John 15:19-20)

    “Where do wars and fighting among you come from? Do they not come of your lusts that war in your members? You lust, and have not: you kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: you fight and war yet you have not, because you ask not. You ask, and receive not, because you ask amiss, that you may consume it upon your lusts. You adulterers and adulteresses, don’t you know that friendship with the world is to be at enmity with The Only True GOD? Therefore whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of The Only True GOD.” (James 4:1-4)

    “The world cannot hate you; but the world hates Me, because I testify that the works of this world are evil.” (John 7:7)” and “The Messiah gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of The Only True God, Our Father.”(Gal 1:4)

    The Messiah testified: “If the world hates you know that it hated Me before it hated you.”(John 5:18) Truly, Truly, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abides alone: but if it die it brings forth much fruit. He that loves his life in this world shall lose it; and he that hates his life in this world shall have it unto life eternal.” (John 12:24-25)

    John testified: “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hates you.” (I John 3:13) “ James testified, “Whoever would be a friend of this world is the enemy of GOD”(James 4:4)

    The “earth” is The Creation of The Only True GOD, Father of ALL! The “worldly” systems are the creation of, and under the dominion of “the god of this world”, he who is “the father of lies”, he who “has blinded the minds of those who believe not The Messiah”! All the nations of this world are under the dominion of, and serve, the evil one for he provides the fuel that feeds mankind’s “imag”ination, and mankind’s “imagination is destroying and perverting Creation(land, air, water, creatures, Truth, Love, Peace, Faith, Simplicity, .etc.) ;-(

    And the “strongest thing” in the evil one’s worldly systems? “Woman”…… yet The Truth, that which is of The Only True GOD, is stronger even than woman. (read I Esdras 3&4 of the Apocrypha) And Truth, Love, Peace, Faith, Mercy, Hope,,,etc,,, all that is “good”, is of The Only True GOD and is of HIS Spirit, not of this world. Those born of The Spirit, those born of The Only True GOD, are the brethren of The Messiah, for they received “a love of The Truth that they might be saved”. Reborn!

    And those who have received “a love of The Truth” have separated themselves from this world and those of this world, for they have taken heed unto The Call of The Only True GOD to “Come out of her MY people.” They are “in, but not of this wicked, evil world”, and The Only True GOD has received them, and is “A Father unto them, and they are HIS sons and daughters”. And they follow, and desire to be like their Master and Brother, The Messiah, He Who was “the firstborn of many brethren”. And as “The Messiah was a servant of The Only True GOD”, so also His Brethren are “servants of The Only True GOD.”

    The called out ones are not “adulterers and adulteresses”, they are not “friends of this wicked, evil world”, they do not “fornicate with the god of this world” for they know that “to be a friend of this world is to be the enemy of The Only True GOD.” They are at war against the evil spirits that possess those who are of this world.

    And they do not “allow that woman Jezebel, which calls herself a prophetess, to teach. For she teaches others to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. The Only True GOD gave her a chance to repent of her fornication; and she repented not.” (Rev 2:20-21)

    “fornication” and “adultery..” in that which is recorded above signifies spiritual fornication with “the god of this world”, which is to love that which is of his world.

    Once again, the “earth” is The Creation of The Only True GOD, Father of ALL! The “worldly” systems are the creation of, and under the dominion of “the god of this world”. Those who “love this world” all serve “the god of this world”, and play their part in the processes that seek to destroy The Creation of The Only True GOD. “And The Only True GOD will destroy them who destroy the earth.” (Rev 11:18) Global warming, polluted air, land and waters, toxic wastes, sexual perversion, evil inventions of destruction, greed, hate, carnal warfare, dis-ease ,,,etc,,, are all destructive processes that have their root in “the lust of the eye, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life”. And as stated, “woman is the strongest thing of this world”. Yet stronger than woman is The Truth, which is in those who have “received a love of The Truth”. The Truth Is Alive in those who have been born of The Spirit for “they no longer love this wicked, evil world and it’s things, nor do they love their own lives in this world”. They but seek and desire The Will of GOD, as they await their final transformation. “Corruptible to Incorruptible” ndeed and Truth!

    Now “the ground was cursed for Adam’s sake” because he “hearkened unto the woman”. Adam listened to a woman rather than obeying The Only True GOD. Yet because of Faithful Noah, The Only True GOD “no longer would curse the ground for man’s sake” because Noah obeyed The Only True GOD! (Genesis 8:21-22) And the Faithful today are exhorted to “love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.” And Faithful women are exhorted to “be in silence.” “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. For I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” “For Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.” (I Timothy 2:11,12,14) A man and woman joined together in obedience and submission unto The Only True GOD are blessed indeed. All who are not obedient, all who will not submit themselves unto The Only True GOD will have to answer to HIM..period.. Be not of those who deny and defy “The One GOD, Father of All”. Be not of those who are destroying and perverting HIS Creation(land, air, water, creatures, Truth, Love, Peace, .etc.)!

    “The Only True GOD is The HEAD of The Messiah, The Messiah is The Head of the man, and the man is the head of the woman”. Multitudes pervert GOD’s Order because they have been seduced by ” the commandments and doctrines of men and devils”. Multitudes are seduced by the religious systems that are in and of this evil world. Seduced because they love this evil world and their own life in it! “Set your affections on things above”. Desire heavenly, eternal things. Quit serving ‘time’ in the prison that is this world and take heed unto the call to ”Come out from among them and be separate!”

    Once again, “Come out” of the worldly systems, which are the product of mankind’s “imag”ination, especially the religious systems. “Come out” from among those who are destroying and perverting Creation and be of those who follow The Messiah on “The Way to The Truth of The Life”.

    Peace, in spite of the dis-ease(no-peace) that is of this world……. francisco

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St. Poemen the Great

"A man may seem to be silent, but if his heart is condemning others, he is babbling ceaselessly. But there may be another who talks from morning till night and yet he is truly silent, that is, he says nothing that is not profitable."

St. Gregory the Great

"Every day you provide your bodies with good to keep them from failing. In the same way your good works should be the daily nourishment of your hearts. Your bodies are fed with food and your spirits with good works. You aren't to deny your soul, which is going to live forever, what you grant to your body, which is going to die."

St. Paisius Velichkovsky

"Remember, O my soul, the terrible and frightful wonder: that your Creator for your sake became Man, and deigned to suffer for the sake of your salvation. His angels tremble, the Cherubim are terrified, the Seraphim are in fear, and all the heavenly powers ceaselessly give praise; and you, unfortunate soul, remain in laziness. At least from this time forth arise and do not put off, my beloved soul, holy repentance, contrition of heart and penance for your sins."

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk

“Prayer does not consist merely in standing and bowing your body or in reading written prayers….it is possible to pray at all times, in all places, with mind and spirit. You can lift up your mind and heart to God while walking, sitting, working, in a crowd and in solitude. His door is always open, unlike man’s. We can always say to Him in our hearts Lord , Lord have mercy.”

St. John of Kronstadt

The candles lit before the icons of the Theotokos are a symbol of the fact that She is the Mother of the Unapproachable Light, and also of Her most pure and burning love for God and Her love for mankind.

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