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Real Answers™
Copyright: © 2008 Jan White
500 words


By: Jan White

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, a Nobel prize-winning author, died recently at the age of 89.  He lived to tell the world about the torture and death in Russian Gulags, prison camps in Siberia where the Communists exiled millions of people.

The news of his death reminded me of the story told in Chuck Colson’s book, Loving God, about Boris Kornfeld, a fellow prisoner with Solzhenitsyn.  A Jewish doctor, Kornfeld met a devout Christian in the prison camp who shared with him how Jesus came for the Jews first and gave His life for all mankind.  He often heard the Christian man reciting the Lord’s Prayer.

Gradually, Kornfeld began to grasp the Truth of the Gospel and became a Christian himself.  The scarcity of doctors in these isolated camps meant the doctor lived in better conditions than most prisoners.  His medical skills were needed for guards and prisoners alike.

His faith was tested one day in surgery while repairing the artery of a guard who had been knifed.  Kornfeld was tempted to let his persecutor bleed to death by not tying off the artery properly.  But he heard himself say aloud; “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us” (see Luke 11:2-4).

Kornfeld continued to pray the Lord’s Prayer as he went about his backbreaking, hopeless tasks as camp doctor.  He tried to help the prisoners suffering from disease, cold, overwork, beatings and malnutrition.  The doctor had been repeatedly asked to sign forms certifying prisoners were healthy enough for punishment.  But now, he refused to sign the forms.

One day, while making rounds, he found an orderly (a fellow prisoner) eating bread that patients with pellagra desperately needed.  Kornfeld had just come from the bedside of a dying man.  Though stolen food wouldn’t change the outcome for most patients, he couldn’t forget the suffering he’d seen.  He couldn’t let it go on.  So the doctor reported the orderly to the camp commandant.

Boris Kornfeld knew his life was in danger for not signing documents, sending men to their deaths, and for reporting the orderly, who was sentenced to three days in the punishment block.  During this time, Kornfeld shared his newfound faith with a young prisoner - whom he operated on for cancer of the intestines - talking to him throughout the afternoon and into the night. 

As Colson writes, “The patient pondered the doctor's last, impassioned words.  As a result, he, too, became a Christian.  He survived that prison camp and went on to tell the world what he had learned there.”  The next morning Dr. Kornfeld died after suffering eight blows to his head.

His young patient was Alexander Solzhenitsyn.  Imagine the conversation in heaven when Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Dr. Boris Kornfeld were reunited.  

Think about the immeasurable impact of one life. There’s a Russian proverb Solzhenitsyn would quote, “One word of Truth outweighs the whole world.”  We, too, need to tell others the Truth, so they will know and be “set free” (John 8:32).


"Real Answers™" furnished courtesy of The Amy Foundation Internet Syndicate. To contact the author or The Amy Foundation, write or E-mail to: P. O. Box 16091, Lansing, MI 48901-6091;

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