Nestor (Savchuk)

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Hieromonk Nestor (Savchuk) was a martyr for the Orthodox Faith in Zharky. His body was found on Dec 31, 1993.

Early Life

Nestor was born in Crimea in 1960. As a young man, he concentrated on developing his wrestling, boxing and martial arts abilities. He was always distant from his family, had a keen awareness and stood out above his peers. Neither he nor his family knew at the time, but two of his great-uncles served at Pochaev monastery, one as a married priest and the other as a revered monk.

In the early 1980s, in an anti-Orthodox, communist Russia, Nestor travelled to Odessa to work as an apprentice to paint religious murals. However, it seems that Nestor was motivated less by spirituality than by the need to work, because it was at this time that his friends, the older artists, would begin to inspire him with stories of righteous monastics, spending 1000 years glorifying God in this life. Despite the government of the time, Nestor saw the world's vanity and desired to flee it in order to arrive at ancient Christianity.

When he made his decision, Nestor left Odessa for Pochaev Monastery, where he began his monastic life (and met his distant relatives). While the government regulated monasteries and required monks to be registered, Nestor never registered. In the mid-1980s the government began a persecution of the monastery, with some monks going to prison-cames and others 'disappearing'. Nestor knew that if he was found he would be treated similarly if he was found, but continued living, albeit in hiding, as an illegal monk. He was soon ordained a priestmonk.

Eventually conditions at Pochaev deteriorated to the extent that the monastery was almost empty - either through monks leaving, being taken to prison camps or being killed. His spiritual father, Elder John Kristiankin, told him to go to Zharky, an isolated village; Nestor treated this as divine guidance and left for Zharky and, after a long journey, arrived.

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