Note: The editors at Lighthouse Trails have been aware of the Vins’ family since the late 1970s when Georgi Vins was a prisoner for his faith in the U.S.S.R. Today, Lighthouse Trails is the publisher for two of Georgi Vins’ books and carries one book written by his daughter, Natasha Vins. This family continually exercised courage and faith in the midst of persecution and are an inspiration and an example to the body of Christ, especially in a day and age today when freedom and liberty to worship God are at such risk of being lost.
There are no greater riches than Christ, and you feel this especially keenly when they want to take Him away from you, when they forbid you to share these riches with people . . . But people need Him so much! Jesus—is there any name more dear to a redeemed soul?—Georgi Vins
“A Legacy to Remember”
On December 21, 2019, Natalia (Natasha) Vins departed from this world and joined those who have gone before her into the arms of the Lord and eternal life.
Natasha was born November 27, 1952 in Kiev, Ukraine to Georgi and Nadia Vins during a period when Ukraine was part of the atheistic U.S.S.R. Her father was a Baptist preacher, and when Natasha was just nine years old, her father was arrested for preaching the Gospel. Over the next 17 years, he spent a total of eight years imprisoned for his faith.
Because of the unrelenting hostility by the Soviet State against Christians, throughout Natasha’s childhood she and her family suffered greatly. Not only were she and her younger siblings deprived of their father for many of their childhood years, they suffered persecution in their community and schools. There was also a law established when Natasha was in 1st grade that children were not allowed to attend church anymore. This was a great disappointment and heartache for Natasha and her family. Eventually, secret outdoor church meetings in the woods began that the Vins’ family participated in, but it put them in great danger. But there was never a question as to whom should they serve—God or man. The Lord had their unwavering devotion. In Natasha’s biography, Children of the Storm, she recalls:
Many changes took place for Peter and me after that first worship service in the woods. Papa explained to us, “The police might come to one of our meetings, arrest me, and take me to prison because I preach from the Bible. . . . He also said that difficulties might come not just for the grownups in our family, but also for me in school. “You are already nine, Natasha, and can understand a great deal. For many months you and Peter couldn’t go to church, because children were forbidden at the worship services. Unfortunately, these regulations were made by church leaders who gave in to pressure from the atheistic authorities. But when the church submits to such unbiblical demands, it disobeys the Lord’s commandments. There are many other things going on that have forced us to start a new church. But you are still too young to understand it all. Just remember the most important thing—your parents love Jesus and want to live according to the Bible.” That is how our carefree childhood abruptly ended: for me at the age of nine; for Peter at six; and little Lisa was not even big enough to remember the days when Papa spent his evenings at home, reading us children’s books and taking us to the playground in the park. Our family entered a harsh period of persecution that was to last several decades. (p. 6)
In school, Natasha experienced much ostracizing and ridicule for her belief in God. She describes one particular day:
In October of 1962, a long article criticizing Christians appeared in the Evening Kiev newspaper. My parents’ names were mentioned in it. The next day at school, my teacher Mrs. Alekseeva was telling us about cavemen, their customs, and religious practices. Suddenly she exclaimed, “Children, can you imagine that even in our day there are people who believe in God just like those cavemen did?” The kids giggled. “Science has proven that there is no God,” the teacher continued, “and progressive-minded mankind rejected all religious beliefs long ago. But occasionally even today we encounter people stupefied by religion. And such a girl is in our own class!” Mrs. Alekseeva stopped and peered at the class. Everyone was silent, waiting for what would come next. She turned to me. “Natasha Vins, come forward, stand before the class, and tell your comrades. Is it true that you believe in God?” I felt a sudden panic. Like a little animal being hunted, I wanted to hide, to become invisible. “Well? How long do we have to wait?” the teacher repeated in a stern voice.
Slowly I walked forward and turned to face the class. Tense silence hung in the air. Quietly, almost in a whisper, I said, “Yes, I believe in God.”
“What’s wrong with you?” the teacher exclaimed angrily. “Are you that ignorant? Didn’t you read what Yuri Gagarin said after he returned from his space flight? It was in all the newspapers. He did not see God anywhere! You’re in the third grade already! The Soviet State is making every effort to give its children the best education in the world, and here is the result. How shameful! Go to the principal’s office.” . . . My classmates had discovered that I was strikingly different from everyone else, and our relationships changed. (pp.7-8)
In 1979, when Natasha was 27 years old, her family was released from the U.S.S.R.’s hold, and they resettled in America. How this came about is chronicled in Children of the Storm as well as her father’s book, The Gospel in Bonds. Once settled in America, Natasha’s father became part of a ministry called Russian Gospel Ministries, which aided those still suffering persecution. Natasha worked by her father’s side until his passing in 1998 at the age of 69.
After her father passed away, Natasha continued in ministry for the Lord in various aspects including interpreting for Bible teachers and sharing the story of the Vins’ family and her own testimony of coming to faith in Christ while enduring years of persecution.
During the last several years of Natasha’s life, she worked alongside her husband, Alexander Velichkin, serving together as missionaries in Russia, bringing the Gospel to remote and hard-to-reach small villages scattered along two Siberian Rivers.
Natasha’s paternal grandparents, Peter (who was executed in a Soviet prison in 1937 at the age of 39) and Lydia, and Natasha’s parents left a legacy to their children and grandchildren of devotion and commitment to the Lord even in the face of extreme persecution and suffering. Natasha did not squander that legacy given to her but rather carried it throughout her own life, serving Christ and testifying to His faithfulness and goodness so that others might be partakers of the same unwavering faith that was passed on to her.
Today, we rejoice in knowing that she is now reunited with those who shaped her life and share in her life’s hope that many will come to Christ and follow Him all the days of their lives.
To read more about Georgi Vins and his daughter Natasha, visit www.georgivins.com.