Excerpts from                                                                          

I Found God in Soviet Russia

Chapter 22: Return to Freedom

              By John Noble, 1959

    For John Noble, this was the conclusion of a decade of intense suffering, amazing endurance, and faithfyl witnessing in Soviet prison camps and labor camps. God had miraculously opened the door to freedom. For background information go to the Introduction and read about the arctic Soviet slave-labor camp, Vorkuta

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“Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." 1 Corinthians 2:14

When I got ready to leave the repatriation camp at Potma for Moscow on January 2, 1955, I had only one possession in the world except my prison clothes: a book of Bible stories in German that another prisoner had given me a month before, the only religious book I had had during my entire confinement. But even this I did not take with me; an Austrian girl at Potma had asked me for it.

In Moscow we saw the Kremlin. At one corner of the Kremlin wall is an ancient, imposing Orthodox church. Scaffolding surrounded it and some reconstruction work was being done....

In countless ways, the foreigner can see how deep the religious tradition runs in Russian life. In everyday speech, the Russian people are constantly calling upon God—albeit many times blasphemously—to right their wrongs or punish their enemies. ... I was reminded of the communist official in Vorkuta who, when he arrived at the camp movie theater and found a seat still vacant, crossed himself and said "Thank God!”

While we were in Moscow, Marchuk and I were lodged in a luxurious suburban villa.... For the first time in nearly a decade, I now slept between clean sheets on a comfortable bed and wore a new suit of civilian clothes. A smartly uniformed colonel and several lesser officers, smiling and courteous, spent three days escorting us around the city. The situation was incongruous. Here were two former slave laborers, subjected for years to humiliation and degradation, now being treated as honored guests of the Soviet government.

It was January 5, Christmas Eve by the Russian Orthodox calendar, when I walked through the Moscow streets for the last time; I could only look around with sorrow at those other prisoners, the Russian people themselves, who were not going to get away from Communist tyranny so soon or so easily as I. The next day, their own neglected Christmas Day, I would be on my way to Berlin.

Thanks to my father’s authentication of my handwriting on the postal card, the wheels had begun in God’s good time to turn. Congressman Bentley, now recovered, had taken the case to President Eisenhower, and Charles E. Bohlen, our Ambassador to Russia, had set in motion the final “investigation” by the Soviet state.

When I passed through that last door into West Berlin and freedom, one of my first stops was at the American Military Hospital. After my check-up and in spite of being so emaciated, with calluses on hands, wrists, and shoulders, the doctors said I was in perfect condition. They could hardly understand this—but I could. Once more, at the end as at the beginning, God had shown me His hand.

When I went into my aunt’s Berlin apartment with her (she had formally identified me at American Headquarters), the radio was playing the grand old hymn, “Now Thank We All Our God” (Nun Danket). We did not say a word, but just stood listening with our heads bowed....

By January 19, I was home in Detroit and on the twenty-second, at a reception given for me at the Detroit Bible Institute, I wanted to meet all those people who had prayed for me on Wednesday nights. It was a wonderful time for all of us, for our prayers had indeed been answered.

The Lord, who had literally prepared a table for me in the presence of mine enemies when I was starving in Dresden Prison, now filled my cup to overflowing with human, as well as divine, love and happiness.

"I will give You thanks in the great assembly;

     I will praise You among many people."

Psalm 35:18