The Georgi Vins' Story: The Gospel in Bonds (A Book Review)
The Gospel in Bonds by Georgi Vins is a riveting book that you won't be able to put down.
This astounding story tells how persecuted U.S.S.R Baptist pastor Georgi Vins survived eight
years in Russian gulags. Now, if you're supposing this to be a depressing tale, be ready to
be uplifted and blessed by Vins' vibrant faith which he demonstrated day after day.
Vins' prison saga begins with a little chapter simply entitled "The Birds" telling of some small
Siberian sparrows to whom Vins fed a few crumbs. These "dear little birds" reminded Vins that
even at a remote Siberian prison he was not forgotten for as the words of the Lord Jesus say, "...
ye are of more value than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:31)
Of all the wonderful stories in this awesome book those about the treasured mini-Gospels touched
me the most. For some "mini descriptions" of these episodes please read below.
Vins Meets Victor
In the course of his imprisonment Vins met Victor. Victor had a mini-Gospel. Victor hid it
beneath his pillow, but not before Vins saw the mini-Gospel. How Vins rejoiced that a Gospel had made it into one of the darkest places in Russia. (c.4)
The Mark Mini-Gospel
Vins' family came to visit. They brought a mini-Gospel of Mark. Vins wondered exactly how best
to hide it. He then decided on sewing it into his undershirt. Amazingly, the little palm-sized Gospel, published secretly by the Christian Publishing House, was not found by the guards. And it was this
miniature Mark Gospel that was preserved throughout the remainder of Vins' incarceration. (c.10)
Bible Book in Boots
At the same time the mini-Gospel was smuggled in, some other Gospel of John pages were also
secreted in holes that Victor had previously placed under the heels of Vins' boots. These precious
pages too escaped the prying eyes of the guard. Later on, Victor retrieved the boot pages, smoothed them out, bound them, and even fashioned a cover for them. (c. 10,11)
Mini-Gospel for Mikhail
Victor was so excited about the Mark mini-Gospel that as soon as he could he borrowed it to give
it to a young man named Mikhail. Before his imprisonment Mikhail's wife had had a Christian up-bringing. Mikhail at that time had had no time for Gospels, but now Mikhail gladly read that little mini-Gospel for himself. (c.11)
High Voltage Room Gospel
For a time the mini Mark Gospel was borrowed, and hidden in the high voltage area by Vins' fellow electrician Yahov. Yahov, too, was most interested in Vins' Lord. And so during Yakov's year in prison he would isolate himself in the high voltage room to read and read. After Yakov's year was
up Vins gave him an address of believers in his home town fervently praying young Yakov would soon accept the Lord as his Savior. (c.12)
Stephan's Invincible Truth
Stephan also got to read the little Gospel. After reading it all Stephan remarked, "Truth is defenseless, but it is invincible." Asking him what he meant by that Stephan told Vins, "Jesus
Christ lived, was crucified, and died. But ... he arose. And ... there are Christians who love and believe Him and are willing to suffer for His teachings. That confirms that truth is invincible.
... Jesus Christ cannot be destroyed! Faith in God is great power! That's why I say truth is
defenseless but also invincible." (c.13)
Gospel in the Garbage
Riding along in the prisoner train corridor several, including Vins, were to be searched. Just ahead
of Vins the guard were especially harsh with a frail old man. Saddened, Vins intervened knowing because of this action his own life could be at risk. Startled by his audacity the guards stopped harming the old man, and turned on Vins. Rifling through Vins' bag a guard came across his mini-Gospel. Sneering the guard tossed the tiny Gospel into the garbage. Vins retrieved it. Enraged the guard vowed to rip it apart until another officer rescued Vins' beloved Gospel. Once more the mini-Gospel had been preserved! (c.14)
The Murderers Read the Mark Gospel
Cursed, and mocked Vins stood among "the murderers" having been thrust into their cell after a lengthy transport. It you're a Christian someone shouted, "Prove it! Let's see your Bible!" "Should
I reveal my little Gospel?" Vins wondered. He did! The murderers murmured, "It's so tiny!" Soon a skinny man, and others were seated at a table listening to a man in a black sweater read aloud from its pages. And so began Vins' week with "the murderers" who were in awe of that holy book. Vin, also, was in awe how a Gospel had touched and changed them. (c.15,16)
Little Gospel Left in Prison
Before Vins left Novosibirsk the man in the black sweater pleaded, "Give us this gospel. Your God will give you many more Bibles and Gospels ..." Some time later in America Vins wrote, "Today I have many Bibles, many Gospels, but my little Gospel of Mark remained behind bars in Siberia. What became of my Gospel in bonds? What became of those men in the murderers' cell? ... I won't learn about that until I get to heaven." (c.18)
These stories were so compelling I composed a little poem about Vins' treasured Gospel.
Vins' treasure book
Fit in the palm book,
Sewn in the shirt book,
Hidden from sight book-
Vins' treasure book
Hidden in nooks book,
Shared with murderers,
n' crooks book-
Vins' treasure book
Better than gold book,
Never grow old book,
Best story told book-
The Rest of the Story
Read the rest of the story about Georgi--his rescue from prison, his relocation to the United States, his restoration with his family, his return to the homeland, and his relentless proclamation of the gospel.
His final poem titled: "Christ and Russia" summarizes Vins' heart--forever sharing and forever caring for his beloved Russian people.
Great Tool for Church School
What a terrific book for children/youth--be it for church school, or homeschooling. As a teacher
I can imagine giving each student a miniature Bible after telling, or reading the story. How very
easy it would be also to assemble a Mini Vins Book complete with small objects/photos/drawings to illustrate the story episodes.
Filled with Photos
This book comes alive with its wonderful photos showing Vins' family, as well as various prison
sites. Even the "Epilogue" includes intriguing photographs of Alexander and Natasha (Vins) Velichkin's present work serving the Lord in Siberia.
Georgi's Prison Poetry
Highlighted throughout the book, and especially in "Prison Poems and the Stories Behind Them"
(c.25) are many of Georgi's poems. A favorite of mine would have to be the poignant poem
"Obstacles." Stanza two reads:
Storms shrieked of death and destruction,
And there seemed no appeasing their lust;
Then, I heard from those pages so sacred,
Whispers, "Trust" and again "Only trust."
A Faith-Filled Read
Would I recommend you purchase this book? I would answer in one word-yes! For through its pages you'll be inspired and moved by Vins' great love for the Word. And hopefully, you'll be challenged to rely on the Word in a greater measure in your own walk. Vins' final "Obstacles"
stanza says it all:
O the Bible--God's good news from heaven,
A celestial, inspired melody;
I don't know of a Book more amazing
And how precious its song is to me!
One Last Thought
What an amazing testimony! How Vins loved his Bible. How Vins loved his Gospel. How Vins loved his Lord. May we too, learn to treasure the precious holy word of God for as Psalm 19:10 says its words are, "More to be desired ... than gold, yea, than much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb."
Learn to Discern Granny Verse: Psalm 119:72
"The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver."
Terrific Lighthouse Trails Resources
Just like this book, Lighthouse Trails Publishers offer more really powerful reads--books that will truly enrich and encourage you in your spiritual growth. To order Vins' book, or any of the other many inspiring books click here. http://www.lighthousetrails.com/