Update Post: December 9, 2023 8:46 am
– Father Victor, the times are perhaps aggressive towards traditional religions, there are many temptations or, as they say, opportunities. What had to happen for you to not only come to religion, but to dedicate your life to serving God?
Victor Shtyrkin: When I was eleven years old and my brother was two, I ate something wrong. There was serious poisoning. He literally died in front of my grandmother and me. He was already turning blue and not breathing. Grandma, and we were alone at home, ran around the apartment in horror, calling somewhere. My family was not particularly religious and there was only one icon in the house: Jesus Christ. We decided to consecrate the apartment, the priest brought it and left it. And I approached the icon and said defiantly: “Lord, if you exist, give me back your brother, and I will go and serve you.”
It’s hard to believe, but a minute later the brother opened his eyes. His parents just arrived, took him to the hospital, did everything necessary and he was still alive. Then there was a lot. The most banal teenage life: I walked, fought, behaved like a hooligan and even tried to smoke. But I set a goal: as I promised, I must keep my word.
– Listen, but you never know what people say at eleven years old. Not everyone is able to remember this at that age.
Victor Shtyrkin: Apparently the Lord took pity on me, since breaking an oath is a terrible crime. And somehow everything that happened to me in life led me to service. In general, I planned to go to the Suvorov School or the Academy of the Ministry of the Interior. There was a desire to serve others through these structures. But apparently it didn’t help me. And according to the task of Bishop Theodosius, I went to study at the Tashkent seminary.
I was very lucky: at that time there were simply incredible professors of theology, theology and ecclesiology in general.
-How did you find life in the seminary?
Victor Shtyrkin: You know, it was a challenge for me. I grew up, let’s say, in a fairly rich family. In any case, we never need it. So I got used to comfortable conditions. When I arrived in Tashkent, we seminarians were basically housed in a barracks, the old dormitory of the seminary, since the renovations had not yet been completed in the new one. Fifteen people in a room, you had to wash your own clothes, strict schedules, discipline.
It was very difficult. Well, study, of course. I probably only read the Bible, which consists of 77 books of the Old and New Testament, from beginning to end eight times. So that you understand, in the fifth year, out of 25 seminarians, only 7 remained. Not all of them can handle the workload.
-How did your parents react to your decision? The departure of a child to serve God is, in fact, similar to the renunciation of family. He was your son, but now he belongs to the church… Did you try to dissuade him, stop him?
Victor Shtyrkin: My father’s attitude was not bad, but not good either. Mom was categorically against it. She tried to contact me. She said that I have many perspectives and that I can go to study anywhere. My grandmother, who had the final say in the family, told my parents to leave me alone and allow me to leave.
– Did you also meet your wife there, in Tashkent?
Victor Shtyrkin: Yes, she is from Tashkent. I went to the youth department of the church. Yusupova Kamila Timurovna, and at baptism – Elizaveta. Her father is Uzbek, her mother is mixed race, half Russian. My future wife was baptized before she even met me. Her grandmother took her to church. She, an absolutely domestic girl, could not even imagine that she would live anywhere else other than Tashkent. But it’s been five years since we got married and I brought her here to Bishkek.
-How did your parents react to you, to your choice?
Victor Shtyrkin: Of course, with caution. When I was invited home, so to speak, to the show, it felt like a competition. And I trained in combat sambo for seven years. In general, before the meeting he was so worried that he was literally shaking. And Lisa explained: if grandfather serves me tea, it means that he accepted it, that’s how it happens to them.
We talked for a long time and this moment came: Grandpa served me tea. And he finally said the following phrase: it doesn’t matter what faith you have, the main thing is that you are a good person, and we trust you with that. But to this day my father-in-law, when we call each other, never stops bothering me: they say, well, Holy Father, how is he? He kindly jokes like that.
– What does your wife do besides the family?
Victor Shtyrkin: Immediately upon arrival he began working in the church’s social protection department. And over time I began to actively help there. And as much as I watch the sisters of mercy, I am amazed at how selfless they are.
It’s true, they love people so much! I can not do this. For a while I was even jealous of my wife’s work. My ego demanded too much attention. But at some point I realized that we all also have to help both loved ones and strangers, even enemies. That is, absolutely everyone. This is our way of life. After all, what is Christianity? This is Love. And if you don’t love, you can’t do anything good.
– If it’s not a secret, do you do anything outside of work?
Victor Shtyrkin: Of course! We are people. For example, I like to race go-karts or go to a cafe with my family and friends and eat delicious food. Sometimes you wouldn’t mind going to a club to enjoy a good concert, why not? It’s true that I can be in those places to a certain extent. If you vilify the faith or speak ill of Russia, I will leave. Yes, I am a citizen of Kyrgyzstan, but I also love Russia. Unfortunately, maybe fortunately, because of this, I stopped communicating with many friends, even those with whom I grew up.
Victor Shtyrkin: Many, at some point, left for Russia, and with the beginning of the Northern Military District they returned and began to scold her. I said this: first you scolded Bishkek, now Moscow. Then you too will betray us! The same goes for faith. If a person starts vilifying the faith, I just get up and leave.
You know, a person, unfortunately, cannot believe in God until he himself opens his heart to him. Up to that point you let the Lord in, up to that point you can believe.
– Last question. What would you say to that eleven-year-old boy who promised to serve the Lord in exchange for a miracle?
Victor Shtyrkin: You made the right decision! And I don’t regret anything.
– How do you captivate your digital flock as the only Orthodox blogger in Kyrgyzstan?
Victor Shtyrkin: Unfortunately, so far I am the only Orthodox blogger… I am trying, as you rightly called it, to lift the veil on the digital flock. I tell you that the world of Orthodoxy is not dark, it is not associated with sadness, sadness or despondency, and even more so with hurting your forehead in prayer, as someone might think. I show that Orthodoxy is joy, positive emotions or, as they sometimes say now, the emotion of contact with the eternal, the infinite. I explain to you that to visit the temple you do not need to prepare much. Just come and then our work will begin.