LTRP Note: Georgi Vins was a Baptist pastor who was imprisoned for his faith in the Soviet Union for a total of eight years. When he was first imprisoned, he was 32 years old.
By Georgi Vins
(author of The Gospel in Bonds)
One Sunday evening I stepped out of the hot, stuffy barracks to get some fresh air. It was early October, but already a soft snow was falling. The recreation area where prisoners played volleyball in the summer was deserted. I walked back and forth across the playground, deep in thought, praying and singing a bit. After a while, I realized that I was not alone. Another prisoner was making his way toward me.
The stranger was a Yakut, about fifty years old, with broad shoulders and a stocky build.
“Are you Petrovich?” he asked in perfect Russian.
“Yes, that’s what they call me,” I answered. “Are you from the latest transport? I’ve never seen you before.”
“I’ve been here two weeks already,” he said with a grin. “My name is Stepan. May I talk with you? They tell me that you’re a Christian, that you were arrested for your faith. I believe in God, too, but I was arrested for murder.”
Then Stepan told me his story.
He was a mathematics teacher. He’d studied seven years at an institute in Leningrad specifically for the peoples of the North. Then Stepan returned to Yakutia and began teaching. He was arrested twice, both times for murder. His first prison term was ten years; this time he was sentenced to fifteen. He still had seven years to serve.
Stepan loved vodka. But he couldn’t hold his liquor, and when he drank even a little, he would immediately lose control of himself. But now the Lord had begun to work in his heart.
Before coming to Tabaga, Stepan had been in a camp in the northern Urals. There he met a Christian prisoner who spoke a great deal about the Lord and was a good testimony. I was so glad that the seed of God’s Word had already been sown in Stepan’s heart, even though he’d never read or even seen a Gospel. As soon as Stepan found out that I was a Christian, he had decided to meet me.
“May I read your Gospel?” he asked. “Everyone knows you have one.”
I gave Stepan the first fifteen chapters of the Gospel of John. He read them over and over. A week later, he asked if I had anything else. I held out the little Gospel of Mark.
“It’s so tiny!” he exclaimed. “Are you sure it’s a real Gospel?”
“Of course it’s real! It’s a mini-Gospel printed especially for prisoners,” I explained.
After he had read that whole book through, he came to me and said, “Truth is defenseless, but it is invincible.”
“What exactly do you mean by that?” I asked.
“Jesus Christ lived, was crucified, and died,” Stepan said thoughtfully. “But He’s alive today because He arose. And right now in our twentieth century, there are still Christians who love and believe Him and are willing to suffer for His teachings. That confirms that truth is invincible. The Gospel is alive! Jesus Christ cannot be destroyed! Faith in God is a great power! That’s why I say that truth is defenseless but also invincible.”
Related Articles by or about Georgi Vins:
A Pastor in a Soviet Prison—The Most Dangerous of All! by Georgi Vins