VIDEO: How to Protect Families from Spiritual Attacks (Why We Moved to Russia)

Moscow, Russia — Cathedral of Christ the Savior, Patriarch Hall, May 18, 2021 — Speech by priest Joseph Gleason at the XXIX International Christmas Educational Readings, section "Christian Education in a Christian Family." The original video (without subtitles) is available on the website of Fr. Dmitry Smirnov.

Father Joseph is an American who moved to Russia with his wife and eight children. A video of his speech is included below, along with a full transcript.


Christ is Risen! (Indeed He is Risen!)

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

How can we protect our families from spiritual attacks? How can we protect them from the tireless forces of evil, which are doing everything they can to turn our children away from Christ, to corrupt them, and ultimately to steal their souls?

More than two hundred years ago my forefathers were faced with such questions.

My ancestor, Samuel Adams, was one of those who signed the Declaration of Independence. He was a close relative of John Adams, the second president of the United States.

I am grateful to him for my very life, because I am his direct descendant. If he had never lived, then I wouldn't be here either. And I fully agree with a particular ideal he once advocated. He said:

“Our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty.”

Samuel Adams envisioned a haven on earth, where Christian families could safely raise their children and grandchildren in peace and love. And for many years America became such a place.

For a long time, when Christians were oppressed in the Soviet Union, many of them fled to America in search of a better life for their children. They knew America was not persecuting people for their faith.

But in recent years, Russia and America have switched places.

Russia has become a safe place in the world where Orthodox Christian families can raise their children without persecution.

Meanwhile, in America, if you do not accept the transgender and homosexual agenda, it is becoming difficult to get an education, or to hold a job and support your family. If you are a traditional Orthodox Christian in America, then you are unwelcome in the university, and unwelcome in the workplace.

While Russia is steadily returning to its Christian foundations, America is doing everything it can to destroy them. The last straw for me and my family came in 2015, when America’s Supreme Court legalized homosexual “marriage” nationwide. This is when I realized that America would soon become a dangerous place for Christians to live.

I flew to Russia three times, looking for a better place to live. On January 1, 2017, I flew to Russia for the fourth time, bringing my wife and our eight children.

We did not speak Russian, and we only had tourist visas. We had no idea how to obtain documents for legal residence in Russia. We just knew that we wanted to raise our children in Russia, and we prayed that God would help us.

Now my children speak Russian, they eat Russian food, they have Russian friends, and they are becoming part of Russian society. I now have a house, a tractor and an acre of land I can use for flowers, fruit trees, and a vegetable garden.

Samuel Adams asked whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty. And for my family, I discovered that such a place does exist — in Russia.

If you truly value the souls of your children, and you want to see them spend eternity in heaven, then you have to make your children’s souls your top priority. You put their souls first, and then you bend every other aspect of your life around that one goal.

Many people ask us: "Why did you choose Russia?"

There are many reasons why we were attracted to Russia. But we consider two of them the most important:

First, we want to live in a country that protects traditional marriage between one man and one woman.

Second, we want to live in a country where traditional homeschooling is legal.

Traditional marriage is at the very foundation of society, so if you weaken and destroy marriage, you weaken and destroy society itself. If a nation tolerates premarital sex, adultery, and homosexual activity, that nation will fall. On this point, I believe we are in agreement.

Still, I think it would be useful to recall some lessons from history. The most famous examples are Sodom and Gomorrah, which God destroyed with fire and brimstone.

Another example is the land of Canaan. The land was defiled by homosexual sin, so the Lord drove the people out of the land. Many people know that God sent the Israelites to take over the land of the Canaanites. But few people realize that sodomy that was one of the reasons for this verdict.

Now let us consider homeschooling.

In times past, throughout the world, most children were taught at home. Those who attended school encountered environments vastly different from modern public schools. There was not a tightly controlled curriculum written by government officials, and there were not any standardized tests.

In Christian lands, an important part of children’s education was Scripture, prayer, and lives of the Saints. Many parents and teachers understood that virtue is more important than grammar and mathematics.

Later, in faraway India, Hindu leaders began developing a new type of school, designed with the express purpose of retarding children’s mental development. They invented teaching methods which are an effective impediment to learning writing and mathematics, and which slow down reading development.

By using this educational strategy, they found it led students quickly into mindless cooperation, almost like robots. It was an effective way to keep 95% of the population ignorant and easy to control.

Subsequently, similar teaching methods were introduced in both Prussia and England. Later, these methods were brought to America, as well as to Russia.

The teachers may be good, and they may have good intentions. But the system itself is broken.

Modern public schools also exclude Christ from most curricula. They teach science, literature, mathematics, and languages ​​as if Christ had nothing to do with these subjects. To make things worse, children often encounter classmates who are a bad influence. They acquire bad habits and suffer moral corruption.

One hour of Sunday school each week, is not sufficient to counteract such evil.

If we want to educate children in the way that God intends, then we need to obey the commands He has given us regarding their education. In Holy Scripture, in the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, God commands parents:

“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength. And these words which I command you today shall be in your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up.” (Deuteronomy 6:5-7)

God says to parents, "You shall teach . . . your children." He does not tell us to send our children away from home for most of the day, so that strangers can teach our children, while we go about our own business.

God says that you shall teach your children "diligently". Not halfheartedly or slothfully.

God says you should teach your children when you rest, when you work, when you go to bed, and when you get up in the morning.

If I cannot do this because of my job, then I need to change jobs.

If I cannot do this because of where I live, then I need to move.

On a typical day in my own home, we all wake up at 6:30 in the morning and gather at our icon corner. We sing Psalms, pray morning prayers, and commemorate the names of family and loved ones who have reposed. Then we sit together and read the Epistle and Gospel readings for the day. We also read each day from the Rule of St. Benedict.

During breakfast, we quietly eat and listen, while family members take turns reading lives of the Saints.

Later in the morning, we teach literature, mathematics, and science in a way that honors God and supports the Christian Faith.

We eat meals together as a family every day, and we pray before every meal.

Every evening, before going to bed, we stand together in our prayer corner, turn off the lights, and we light the candles and incense. We pray together as a family, and then our children go to bed in peace.

We have been doing all of this together for many years now, and it has a wonderful effect on the children.

As St. John Chrysostom says,

"With us, everything should be secondary compared to our concern with children, and their upbringing in the instruction and teaching of the Lord."

St. Tikhon of Zadonsk, one of Russia’s greatest bishops, understood just how important it is to train up our children in holiness, and to provide them with a thoroughly Christian education. He said,

“God will not ask you whether you taught your children French, German, or Italian, or the politics of society life – but you will not escape divine reprobation for not having instilled goodness into them. I speak plainly, but I tell the truth: if your children are bad, your grandchildren will be worse, and the evil will thus increase, and the root of all this is our thoroughly bad education.”

Thankfully, homeschooling has been legal in Russia for thirty years, and about a hundred thousand Russians are currently doing it. There are more homeschooled children in Russia than in any other European country. There is a great site called Classic Conversations that thousands of parents visit to learn more about homeschooling in Russia.

So if you want to homeschool your children while living in Europe, I truly believe Russia is the best place to do it.

My wife and I wanted to provide a good future for our children and grandchildren. We wanted to find a country that protects traditional marriage. We wanted a country that protects traditional home education. We wanted a country with a strong military to protect us physically, and a strong Orthodox faith to protect us spiritually. This is why we left America and moved to Russia.

As my ancestor Samuel Adams said,

“Our contest is not only whether we ourselves shall be free, but whether there shall be left to mankind an asylum on earth for civil and religious liberty.”

My family and I are in agreement with this. There is such a place on earth today, where both civil and religious liberty can be found. That place is Russia. This is where I want to raise my children and my future grandchildren.

May God bless you and your families! Thank you very much.

For more great memes like this one, follow Global Orthodox News on Telegram: