Sergei Kourdakov, a former KGB agent and Soviet naval intelligence officer, defected from the USSR at the age of twenty. A year later we met at my Federal Government office in Washington DC. We were watched and followed. “Even you could be spy,” Sergei whispered. My book, A Rose for Sergei, is the true story of our time together.

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Power of One

It only takes one person to make a difference.  When Sergei Kourdakov wrote The Persecutor he reached people all over the world.  Alone, he touched thousands with his story and changed lives.  There is a lot to be said about the power of one.  You don’t always ask to be the one, often the choice isn’t yours.
When I worked at an elementary school I was the only adult close by in the cafeteria when a young girl started choking.  She couldn’t speak and was clawing frantically at her throat; her panicked eyes begged me for help.  I looked around helplessly; but no other adult was near.  It’s not that I didn’t want to help; I just didn’t know what to do.  I had never performed the life-saving Heimlich maneuver before.  I was afraid but there was no other choice.   
I quickly stepped behind her and placed my folded locked hands above her waist.  One quick thrust inward and upward just below her rib cage did nothing.  A second sharp thrust, again no results, she was still grabbing at her throat.  At that point a sickening feeling came over me, this child is going to die in my arms and I can’t do anything to save her.  And so I prayed for help, God you have to help me save this child.  I don’t want her to die, please don’t let her die.  
The second the prayer left my lips I had the strangest sensation.  Tunnel vision formed and everything around me became a hazy blur.  The little girl at the end of the tunnel was perfectly in focus.  Everything outside of the tunnel moved in slow motion.  I could not hear any sounds whatsoever even though there were hundreds of students loudly enjoying their lunch break.  My focus was entirely on the choking girl.  I clearly and methodically went over the Heimlich directions again in my mind and knew I wasn’t using enough force.  One final thrust of my hands lifted the child a few inches off the ground, dislodging the potato chip and forcing it to fly across the table.
Slowly the tunnel vision dissipated and my body trembled inside from the rush of adrenaline.  This beautiful little girl would live.  I didn’t ask to be the one that day, but the choice wasn’t mine.  It only takes one person to make a difference.

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Frightening Reality

As I write A Rose for Sergei, I am stunned by how easily the words are flowing.  I wonder if it’s because the words I write have never been spoken or written about before.  It is as if they have been preserved in my memory all these years.  The conversations between Sergei and I are in essence verbatim.  I can only think of two reasons why this would be possible.  The first is that my memories are clear, they never expanded with repetition like some stories we tell over time.  The second is because I had a heightened sense of awareness when we were together.  Sergei knew he was being watched and followed; he told many people about that.  The frightening reality to his statement is that it easily translated to  . . . “We are being watched and followed.” 

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The Persecutor by Sergei Kourdakov

I suspect that before Sergei even dreamed of writing his book, The Persecutor, he was told over and over by many people that he needed to write about his life – that when people heard his story they were spell bound.  His job with the KGB in Russia was to inflict terror on Christians.  He became disillusioned with Communism and defected to Canada in September 1971.  During his stay in Canada he converted to Christianity, and eventually moved to California where he became a member of Underground Evangelism (now known as Mission Without Borders).  Several articles about Sergei have suggested that he seemed eager to tell his story and he was only interested in writing a book for the money.  However, in writing his book he knew he was putting his life in jeopardy.  It was his decision; he knew the consequences, and he was willing to take that risk.  He was eager to write a book, but for the right reasons.
He wanted to make a difference . . . and he made all the difference in the world.  
 * * *
“You really need to write a book!”  Suzanna said.  I heard those words from her many times over the past ten years.  “Why?” I would ask each time.  “Because it’s a really good story,” was Suzanna’s reply.  Suzanna was my friend and co-worker, smart and pretty, young enough to be my daughter, and wise beyond her years.  She was only one of a handful of friends who knew about me and Sergei, possibly because she was a compassionate listener.  “I wouldn’t even know where to begin to write a book about Sergei,” I finally admitted one day.  “You start with . . . , that’s where you need to start,” Suzanna confidently told me.  Her words stayed with me over the years.
I started to write A Rose for Sergei exactly where Suzanna had suggested. 
 A brief account of Sergei’s life can be found at:
An online version of The Persecutor is available at: