The decision to become a Christian radically changed the life of Sergey Afanasiyev and his family: “It filled our lives with happiness and purpose,” he says. However, 20 years later, because of his beliefs, the peaceful believer became a victim of religious repression.
Sergey was born in April 1964 in the village of Horonkhoy (Buryatia). He has an older sister. When Sergey was 10 years old, his father died tragically, and his mother had to raise the children alone.
As a child, Sergey was fond of hockey, football and fishing. After school, he went to Blagoveshchensk and entered the river college. Later he gained construction skills and worked for about 15 years in a housebuilding factory.
Sergey met Irina in Blagoveshchensk and in 1984 they got married. The couple raised three children with Christian values. Two of them are adults and already have families of their own.
Sergey was concerned with spiritual questions for many years, but he found answers to them only in 1996, when he and Irina began studying the Bible thoroughly. They were glad to learn that the Holy Scriptures contain the name of God, and they also found useful advice on strengthening the family and raising children. In 1998, the Afanasiyevs became Christians. According to Sergey, Bible knowledge had a positive effect on him: “I began to devote more time to my family and children, and also to help other people”.
In their free time, the Afanasiyevs go to the forest to pick mushrooms, go fishing, go ice-skating and play volleyball. Sergey recently took up painting.
After the searches in the summer of 2018, the life of the Afanasiyev family changed a lot. The criminal prosecution affected their emotional state and physical health. However, the family does not lose heart. Sergey says: “The prosecution dramatically changed our lives. At first we were anxious; there was some kind of uncertainty. But we were not frightened, because we understood that this could happen to anyone”.
Relatives and colleagues are at a loss because of the unfair sentence handed down to this peaceful and exemplary family man—6.5 years in a penal colony only because of his religion. Sergey's daughter, Yekaterina, is also being prosecuted for her faith, and in December 2022 her husband, Anton, was sentenced along with his father-in-law to 6 years and 3 months imprisonment for his beliefs.