UKRAINIAN BAPTIST HERITAGE CENTRE

       ANDREW TESLUK

September 17, 1919 - March 24, 2007

ANDREW TESLUK was born in the village of Batyatychy, Ukraine on September 17, 1919.  He was one of three children to Paul and Katerina Tesluk.  He had two other siblings, Maria and Michael.

Andrew is survived by Helen, his wife of 64 years and his older brother Rev. Michael Tesluk, residing in California.  He is also survived by his four sons: Michael and wife Trudy, Alex and wife Marilyn, Andy and wife Linda, Peter and wife Paula; eight grandchildren: Kathy Perito, Robert Tesluk, Melanie Marshall, Matthew Tesluk, Timothy Tesluk, Amy tesluk, Olivia Tesluk and Neil Tesluk; three great-grandchildren: Alexandra Marshall, Joseph Perito and Grace Isabelle Perito.  Andrew is also survived by three nieces in Ukraine, daughters of his eldest sister Maria, three nieces in the United States, daughters of the his brother Michael – Nadia Tesluk, Luba Lehman, Vera Shantz – these names translate into Hope, Love and Faith in Ukrainian.

Andrew was predeceased by two granddaughters – Brook Andrea Tesluk who would have been thirty years old this year and Emily Tesluk who would have been 22 years old on the day of Andrew’s funeral.

Andrew’s life began on September 17th, 1919 and he passed away peacefully on March 24th, 2007, living 87 and a half years.

At about one year of age Andrew lost his father to typhus.  His mother soon remarried and he was raised by his stepfather, who was a good man to his mother and the children.

Andrew’s brother Michael, older by five years, was one of the first to accept Christ as his personal Saviour in their village.  He would take Andrew to the church services and in 1938, Andrew was baptized on his profession of faith.

Andrew had a great desire to play the violin.  He took private violin lessons from a son of the local priest.  He would diligently practice in the storage shed late at night, propping up the music on a sack of grain and would light a naphtha lamp.  His mother would come in and turn the lamp down because he was burning too much fuel.  Another passion for his was choral conducting, for which he also took formal training.  This would become his life’s work and ministry.

Having completed his studies in conducting, Dr. Potapovich asked him to head up the choir in Lviv, which he did for a year.  World War II stopped this work in Lviv, so he returned home to Batyatychy and headed up the choir there.

In 1942, on the suggestion of his brother, he would visit this ‘baptist family’ just across the border in Poland.  Who knows how he was enticed otherwise to go to a farm in the middle of nowhere.  When he arrived, he met Helen.  She was ill with typhus and her head had been shaved bald the day before.  It must have been love at first sight, because Andrew would later return, and on February 7th, 1943, he married Helen Prokopiuk. 

During the war, a was was enacted in their region that all Ukrainians should be forced out of this area into Russia or to other parts of Poland.  Andrew and Helen chose to move to Gdansk where they joined the Baptist church.  In 1946, Andrew organized a choir, which he led until the end of 1960.  Also during this time, he served as chairman of the Elders board.

As for an occupation to make a living, Andrew was a foreman in a shoe factory.

In November 1960 the Tesluk family immigrated to Canada on the sponsorship of Helen’s sister Anne, and were destined for Lethbridge, Alberta.  The stormy seas of late November made the voyage quite harsh.  Andrew was the sickest of all the family for several days.  The St. Lawrence river was frozen over and the family was not able to make it to Montreal as originally planned and disembarked in Quebec City.  From there they took the train to Montreal with no idea who would be there to meet them.  Would it be someone from the Polish or Ukrainian churches?  As it turned out, Rev. Reczun-Panko of the Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Church met the family in Montreal and somehow convinced Andrew to go to Toronto and he stayed there for the rest of his life.  It was not long afterwards that he became the choir director of the Ukrainian Evangelical Baptist Church in Toronto, taking over from Mykola Brych.  He also became a member of the church board.

Having experience in the shoe manufacturing industry, Andrew secured a job in early 1961 on a shoe making assembly line, cleaning and polishing shoes before they were shipped out.  He did this until he retired in 1984.

Andrew Tesluk led many different choirs in his church.  A mixed choir, Ladies’ and Mens’ choirs and various other ensembles, as well as choirs at conferences.  Under his direction a number of records were produced with the choirs of the Ukrainian Baptist Church in Toronto.  Andrew spent countless hours studying the music before he would teach it to the choir.  After supper he would spend hours plucking on his violin and learning all the parts.  His children would hear so much of the music that they would almost know all the four parts as well.

Andrew loved the Lord and worked tirelessly for Him.  Choral music was his lifelong ministry.

Andrew started to ail in 2001, but he never complained.  He was like Job, “do we accept good from God and not trouble?”

As time went on he was ever hopeful that there would be some cure for his eyesight, or after suffering several mini-strokes, that he would regain his walking abilities.  All these factors and poor circulation to his feet contributed to his eventual demise, where in the last year or so, he was unable to walk at all and was either in a wheelchair or in bed.

Andrew was a gentle man.  He rarely, if ever, had harsh words to say to, or about anyone.  He was a man of patience, and surely his children and even choir members took his patience to the limits, yet he never lashed out at anyone.

It took a lot of courage for Andrew at the age of 41, to pack up his family, leave his ministry, and head for the unknown to start a new life.  It also took a lot of courage for him to die.

It’s wonderful how God works.  Andrew’s granddaughter Amy, was studying in Australia last year and had a part time job in a nursing home.  Unknown to her parents, she decided to return home in December.  On Friday night Amy’s dad, Andy (Jr) asked her to go see her Dido for possibly the last time.  She would spend a few hours with him and Baba.  Her dad asked her to come home, but she called him back at 3:30 a.m. to say that everything was alright and that she would stay the whole night with her grandparents.  Five minutes later she called and said that Dido was gone.  In that brief time span she saw a look of distress on his face and she assured him he was not alone.  She then whispered in his ear the words of Psalm 30: “That rejoicing comes in the morning, and that he will soon be dancing and clothed with joy.”  With that Dido had a great calm over his face as he exhaled his last breath.

We all miss you Dad, and will remember your faithfulness to God.

On behalf of the family – Andy (Jr.) Tesluk

This article was published in the Spring/Summer 2007 issue of The Christian Herald, Vol. 65, Issue 1, pages 23-25.

 

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