Dikhtyar Faithfully Serves at Trevecca for More Than 30 Years After Fleeing Soviet Union

| Faculty

Val Dikhtyar headshotWhen Dan Boone and his family headed to the Nashville airport in the spring of 1990, they were going to meet a refugee family arriving from Moscow. Trevecca Community Church (then known as College Hill), where Boone pastored at the time, had agreed to sponsor the family so they could relocate to Tennessee. The family was fleeing the oppression of the Soviet Union.

“We experienced some harsh times in the Soviet Union so as soon as we had a window of opportunity, we grabbed our two girls and our luggage and we moved,” Val Dikhtyar said.  

The hospitality of the church was immense, and soon Dikhtyar, his wife Liya, and their daughters moved into an apartment the church had furnished for them on Murfreesboro Pike. 

“The people provided us with furniture and filled the fridge with food,” Dikhtyar said. “We were amazed. After leaving Moscow, we had spent three months in Italy waiting for our sponsorship to get approved, and it had been a very tough time.” 

Trevecca offered Dikhtyar a job in maintenance, which he was eager to take. Despite arriving with limited understanding of the English language and unsure of what a ‘Trevecca’ was, he began working with the thought that it would be a short-term arrangement. 

“I thought it would be a temporary job but now it's been more than 30 years,” laughed Dikhtyar. “It's been a blessing. Trevecca is like an oasis among other areas of the city.” 

Now, the ties between the Dikhtyar family and Trevecca community have moved far beyond an employer-employee relationship. Val and Liya had two sons after arriving in the U.S., and each of their four children attended the University.  

“They had great experiences and studied biology, chemistry and those kinds of things and now they are all in the medical field,” Dikhtyar said. 

He has a daughter who is a registered nurse and another in the pharmaceutical industry. One of his sons is a resident physician and the other is attending medical school in Memphis with plans to become a psychiatrist.  

Dikhtyar sees the value of being part of a community like Trevecca in the success of his children. 

“I'm so grateful,” he said. “I give credit to my wife for raising them properly. But really and truly, I'm so thankful to the Trevecca community that helped us raise our kids in a safe place.You know the expression, ‘It takes a village to raise a child?’ My question is, ‘What does it take to educate them properly?’”

The Dikhtyar family is committed to giving back to the school that has given them so much. They recently established the AMEN endowment scholarship for students in the health sciences. The name of the scholarship comes from the first letter of the names of their four children—Anthony, Maya, Elya and Nicholas.  

“We'd been thinking and praying about it, and God gave us the desire and ability to make it happen,” Dikhtyar said “We talked to the kids and they said ‘Yes, this is the right thing to do.’Our family wants to contribute for generations to come.”

After many years as the school’s plumber, a job he joked can feel life-saving for students in need, Dikhtyar has no plans of stopping. His service has not gone unnoticed, and at the 2023 President’s Dinner, Boone commended him and his family for their faithfulness to Trevecca before the entire faculty and staff. 

“He is a problem solver. He's a man of great practical wisdom,” Boone said. “Val and his wife are great parents and the entire family is just remarkable.” 

More than his accomplishments or the stability of the United States, the relationships Dikhtyar and his family have built have shaped their lives for the better. He summed it up with a saying commonly used in the Soviet Union when the ruble currency was at its strongest. 

“It is better to have 100 friends than one hundred rubles,” Dikhtyar said. “And here, God has given us so many friends. Most of those friends are alive and some of them are already with the Lord. But to have so many friends, that is a great blessing.”