Kamil Metz is a local pastor with a rich history of life experiences that shaped his faith in Christianity. The story begins with that of his grandfather, Yuriy Andrushkiv.
Andrushkiv was born in the Soviet Union, close to the Ukrainian part. When he was four or five years old, his father was murdered by the communists. This formed a grudge against the communist party. When he was a teenager, he was politically aware, loved to read and loved all books. He took his passion for knowledge and political awareness and became a political activist.
The communists sent Andrushkiv to Siberia to a labor camp. It was located in the far east of North Korea. Metz says his grandfather was physically fit and survived his time in the camp. Most of his diet consisted of beets, which led to loose stools.
He was eventually captured by the Nazis and sent to a concentration camp. Metz said that train had stopped in Poland for refueling when Andrushkiv and another person escaped from the train. Each cart had a hole in the floor so people could use the toilet. The two men escaped through those holes. He was then captured and placed in a local prison. There is no information about the other man who escaped.
The prisons were fenced off. It was not a high security area. The locals would come to feed the prisoners potatoes through the holes in the fence. Andrushkiv escaped from the local prison and went into hiding.
He met a Polish woman who was helping to care for a German family. The woman somehow persuaded the family to let him help around the house. He did this in exchange for food. They were married a year or two later. The woman is Metz’s grandmother.
Since Metz’s grandfather was an anti-communist and a prisoner of war, he was unable to return home. Stalin killed people like him. Andrushkiv befriended a Polish man who could vouch for him. He ran out of documents, so he was able to get citizenship in Poland.
The only letter anyone had ever received from Metz’s grandfather was written in code. They believed that Andrushkiv was in Ukraine. Communism ended in 1989 and he died shortly after.
This was only part of Metz’s story that shaped who he would become as an adult. His other part of his story was with his own house. His father was raised Catholic and his mother was an active Lutheran. She played the organ in her home church and was passionate about her faith. When their children were born, this caused an argument among them about how their children should be raised. His father left home for a while. While he was gone, Metz’s mother met a woman who introduced her to the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
This religion made sense to her, so she started going to church with her children on Saturday. She was truly on fire for God, Metz said.
Metz’s father joined the communist party and his mother became a Christian. His father was back and hated the idea of his family going to church. They had to hide their Bibles from his father and sneak to church on Saturdays.
His mother kept her faith and would put their money into the sacrifice at the church. Even if they gave everything away, Metz said God would provide. His mother continued to pray for his family, and her faith grew stronger when a nearby nursing home asked the family to receive the excessive abundance of food that was left. Metz said they were able to eat what he explained was fancier food, such as plaited bread. These were foods they normally couldn’t afford.
Even though they had no money, his mother arranged for the children to receive Bibles and music lessons. Her only wish was that they would love God and enjoy reading.
Metz’s mother was diagnosed with what would be a terminal illness. She feared that her seven children would no longer be raised Christian. She didn’t want them to be raised communist. She prayed and treated herself with expensive herbal remedies. His mother is alive and the communist doctor is now a Christian thanks to her healing and strong faith, Metz explained.
“God has his ways. All things work together for the better,” said Metz.
Their faith was still being challenged by the communists when his brother got a chance at school. His brother had to walk two miles to the bus and once encountered a man in the snow that he was carrying home. He received high honors in school and was subsequently admitted to medical school. There was a question about evolution that he answered as a Christian. He was refused entry because they said they didn’t need Christian doctors. A year and a half later, communism ended. His brother got a letter of apology and a chance to go to school. He decided it was not his path.
This was one of the ways they were influenced by the communist regime, but it didn’t destroy their faith. Metz’s family went through trials and tribulations in a communist nation, but his faith remained strong. He came to the United States and studied English, business and theology. He now preaches to five congregations; one of these is Tell City Seventh Advent Church.