The historic exchange
1974 – We should ever remember that this was the day that Rev. Georgi P. Vins was arrested then on Jan. 27, 1975, at a five day show trial, he was sentenced to five years in concentration camps, followed by five years of exile in Siberia and the confiscation of all his property. Vins had refused to have the local churches and their pastors controlled by the government. His strong position had led to his arrest and trial in 1966 in which he was sentenced to three years in concentration camps. Following his release, Vins continued his ministry and was sentenced to a year of forced labor in 1970. After that, being under constant surveillance, he hid from public view and carried on his ministry traveling covertly, without authorization. During the time that he was underground, his mother was arrested, tried, and imprisoned for three years. Thankfully, President Jimmy Carter exchanged two convicted Russian spies for five Russian dissidents, which Carter insisted would include Vins. On April 27, 1980 the exchange was made in NY, City. Vins wife and children joined him later. This was a major event at the time and news articles said, “Vin’s group is a secessionist “Reform Baptist” assembly that is more militant about religious rights than is the mainline Baptist group in Russia.” Vins, like many of his counterparts in the USSR, was desirous of maintaining the age-old principle of religious liberty. There are three types of church-state arrangements practiced in the world. First is that which places the church above the state, the ecclesiastical is also the political leader. Another puts the state above the church. This makes the Political leader over the church. Then there is liberty guaranteed by the First Amendment where the church has the right to be under Christ alone.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon, from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins/Thompson /, pp. 128.
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President Carter had him released
1975 – PETER VINS AND HIS SON GEORGI SUFFER FOR THE UNREGISTERED CHURCH MOVEMENT IN RUSSIA – On January 27, 1975, Georgi Vins was sentenced to five years in concentration camps, followed by five years of exile in Siberia and the confiscation of all his property. His father Peter I. Vins had studied theology in America and returned to the USSR in 1922 where he ministered in Siberia. The ministry was fruitful but he was arrested in 1930 and sentenced to 3 years in concentration camps. In 1936 Peter was held for 9 months without trial before being released. In 1937 he was arrested for the third time while pastoring the 1,000 member Baptist Church of Omsk, Siberia. It was then forcibly closed by the authorities. Peter died in prison in 1943. Georgi, after completing his education in Kiev married Lidia, who had led the Council of Prisoners Relatives. She was arrested on Feb. 8, 1970 and sentenced to 3 years in prison for her activities. When the Russian government passed a law requiring all churches to register, Georgi Vins refused and this led to his arrest in Nov. 1966 and sentence of 3 years in a concentration camp. After his release he was sentenced again for a year at forced labor in Kiev. He came to America in an exchange for two convicted Russian spies in a deal worked out by Baptist President Jimmy Carter in 1979. Pastor Vins died on Jan. 11, 1998 in Elkhart, Indiana.
Dr. Greg J. Dixon; adapted from: Day in Baptist History Vol. I: Cummins Thompson/ pg. 36
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“She became “more than a conqueror.”
The verdict against Valentina Saveleva, a Russian believer was handed down by a Russian judge on Jan. 28, 1983. Her long trip began that would deliver her to a distant prison camp near Irkutsk in Siberia. Valentina was a secret courier of Christian literature who was arrested in Jan. 1982. As a 27 year old college graduate, her future looked bright, but from her detainment she knew that she would receive five years in the Russian penal system. The brilliant defense that she presented meant nothing to the puppet judge. The KGB had already determined the sentence and she made that clear to her court appointed atheistic attorney. He interrogator became interested in her Bible and especially wanted to read the trial of Jesus. After the sentencing the miserable journey took a month to reach Siberia with stops at several remote cities along the way like Pyatigorsk and Aktyubinsk. Russia formed the art of “Diesel Therapy”, before it ever caught on here in the US. She finally arrived at the prison camp at Bozoi on March 3, 1983 which is known as the “Valley of Death” where living conditions were desperate but Valentina lived victoriously. Continual efforts by the KGB to break her spirit and will were in vain. She had a resolute assurance that she was right were God wanted her, and though she suffered greatly, he provided grace for every trial. Valentina persevered, and she became “more than a conqueror.”
Dr. Greg J. Dixon from: This Day in Baptist History Vol. IIII: Cummins, pp. 57-58.