Excerpts from The Gospel in Bonds Part 2
In the Soviet Gulags: Imprisoned for His Faith
May God use this wonderful book to equip you for the times ahead.
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"The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church."
Tertullian, 1st century AD
Like his father, Georgi Vins was prepared to serve God in the midst of hardships and persecution. He knew well that he would face harsh imprisonment, hateful guards, little food, and long, lonely separations from his family. But he was confident that God was with him and would guide Him through the trials ahead. No threats from his foes would keep him from finishing His God-given assignment.
The faith and perseverance that the apostle Paul demonstrated long ago were surely imprinted on Georgi's heart. Living a life of faith in the midst of unthinkable hardships, he -- like the apostle Paul -- could honestly say:
". . . none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:24)
A few days after I arrived at Mokhsogollokh, a KGB official summoned me to his office. He was thin, almost fragile in appearance with a squeaky voice. His narrow eyes glittered with hostility.
"We know," he said testily, "that you want to build a secret printing press here at the camp to print religious brochures! We will not allow this! We'll rot you! We'll put you in the punishment block. You'll get solitary confinement!
I was surprised. "I don't understand. What kind of print shop? What brochures?"
"Cut the act!" the officer barked, slamming the desk with his bony fist. "We know you are dangerous. Hundreds of eyes will scrutinize your every move no matter were you are in the camp, the barracks, or the factory. Don't you dare pray or talk to anyone about God!"
"He struggled to sound ominous and produce a deep bass voice. The result was comical.
It never occurred to me to set up a print shop here," I answered quietly. Besides, it's impossible. But I do have the right to pray. I am a believer and will continue praying to God. I'll pray for the whole camp, and I'll pray for you, that the Lord would grant you repentance and the salvation of your soul."
"Don't you ever pray for my soul!" the officer shrieked. "You'll regret this conversation! Now get out of here!"
That's how I found myself in hand cuffs and on my way to another camp. But I knew that my banishment from Mokhsogollokh was actually a victory for Christ. The KGB fears open prayers and testimonies about Jesus Christ more than the vilest crimes! As we rumbled along in the raven, I knew my future was secure in the Lord's trustworthy hands. [pages 21-22]
My persecutors, I do not curse you.
And as this hour under the burden of the cross,
I pray for you and bless you,
With the simple humanity of Christ. (1)
Our sixty-two-mile journey had taken nearly four hours. The soldier let Anvar and me out of the van and took us to the control point. The handcuffs made it difficult for me to hold on to my small bag of personal belongs. Anvar looked at me and shook his head.
Georgi," he whispered, "I'm a murderer, a criminal, and I don't have handcuffs. But you're an engineer and a believer and you have handcuffs? You didn't kill or knife anyone. You're a man of God. What they're doing is not good."
An officer and the camp director were working the control point. The convoy officer handed over our files. The director scanned the papers.
"Take them back," he announced. "I won't accept them. I have enough cutthroats!"
"But I had orders to bring them here to Bolshaya Markha," protested the convoy officer.
"I won't take them," interrupted the director. "I know this man." He pointed to Anvar. "He's already been in every camp in the North." Then he pointed to me. "And who's this. Why is he wearing handcuffs?
"My orders say he travels only in handcuffs," answered the convoy officer.
The director looked a me. "Why were you arrested? What's your crime?"
"I'm a Christian," I replied. "I was sentenced to ten yours for my faith in God." ...
"Quite a pair we've got here," he muttered. "A murderer and a Baptist!" He turned to the convoy officer. "I won't accept them. The last thing I need is a Baptist agitator! Take them back."...
Anvar approached the duty officer. "Citizen officer, let us sit down. We are very tired."
"Keep standing!" he barked. "Bandits like you and this Baptist should be shot, not chauffeured around from camp to camp!"
"My handcuffs were starting to hurt and the slightest movement in my wrist automatically caused them to tighten. I decided to speak to the convoy offer.
"Citizen officer, please take off these handcuffs. They're very tight."
"Why not just pray to your God?" he taunted. "Maybe He'll take them off for you!"
"About an hour later, the camp director finally agreed to accept Anvar and me. My handcuffs were removed, and we were trip searched. A guard took us to the barracks." [pages 23-24]
Georgi's suffering was an essential part of his life and love for Jesus. He was well acquainted with both the painful cost and the priceless reward of following Jesus here on earth - and forever:
"The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together. For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us." (Romans 8:16-18)
May our almighty God use Georgi's timeless message to prepare us for the challenges ahead!
"...we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. We are troubled on every side, yet not distressed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down, but not destroyed; always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body." (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)
That Scripture points us to a very special song by the blind hymn writer, Francis Crosby:
All the way my Savior leads me
What have I to ask beside?
Can I doubt His tender mercy,
Who through life has been my Guide?
Heavenly peace, divinest comfort,
Here by faith in Him to dwell!
For I know, what e'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well;
For I know, what e'er befall me,
Jesus doeth all things well. (3)
1. Written by Georgi P. Vins, Anyusha Prison Camp, December 1968. Translated from Russian into English.
2. Oswald Chambers, My Utmost of His Highest, February 1.
3.Hymn: "All the way my Savior leads me," written by the beloved blind hymn writer, Fanny Crosby.
The Gospel in Bonds - Part 1 & The Gospel in Bonds - Part 3