I remember when the Ukrainian dissident Valentyn Moroz went on a hunger strike. I would have been about nine at the time and my father would have been very near my age today.
In the evening, my father would use his shortwave radio to hear updates from Radio Free Europe. There was no Internet back then in 1974, and one starving Ukrainian prisoner was not national news. Then, he would go down on his knees next to his bed and pray. Even peeking from the hallway, the atmosphere was tense.
I never did learn how to ask my father questions in ways that did not lead to explosions, and no one at school, even among my teachers, had heard of Valentyn Moroz, so I never really understood what was going on. I just knew it was something very, very serious and somehow what we were doing, praying and remembering, was important, too, even though, as a nine year old, I did not really understand the connection.
Moscow relented, first allowing Moroz to communicate with the world, and then, although years later, allowing him to emigrate. My father told me, "I have only really prayed hard a few times in my life - and never for myself - but God has always answered my prayers." That was probably my first theology lesson. I am still reluctant to pray for myself, and always feel like I don't pray hard enough. I honestly don't think I have ever looked like my Dad did down on his knees back then.
There is today again a human soul whose life is fading in a Russian prison. I know more about her, but I don't know what I can do. I cannot help but feel like nine year old Pavlo today. Did my father know his prayers would be answered? Will God hear mine?
Please God, let Nadiya Savchenko live.