By Dr. Marc Drake, Senior Pastor, First Baptist Church, Sun Lakes
Before the old Soviet Union collapsed, Galina Vilchinskaya was a 23-year-old Sunday school teacher who spent five years in a Soviet prison for sharing her faith. However, imprisonment, hunger, and beatings could not silence her witness. In fact, she led many in her prison to faith in Jesus Christ; consequently, she was transferred to another facility – and after that, yet another.
These transfers, however, were just new opportunities for Galina to spread her message of hope. Finally, she was transported by prison train to the far eastern part of Siberia along with many other prisoners – the worst of the worst. As the train rumbled through the Siberian wilderness, the din of cursing and fighting among the prisoners was broken by a clear, sweet voice of singing. It was the voice of Galina singing about her Lord and Savior. A hush fell over the train car as even the most hardened criminals turned their faces away to hide their tears. Mile after mile, hymn after hymn, Galina sang the gospel.
Today, Galina is a pastor’s wife in Siberia, where once she was a prisoner of an atheistic empire that no longer exists. It is certainly true that God has the last word! As we sometimes sing in our worship services:
“How lovely on the mountains are the feet of himWho brings good news, good news Announcing peace, proclaiming news of happiness. Our God reigns; our God reigns!”
The Soviet Union may have been intent on crushing a young woman for the “crime” of being a Sunday School teacher. But the full force of the government was no match for Galina’s God! It’s true that the collapse of the Soviet state brought unprecedented freedom and opportunity for the dissemination of Bibles and the spreading of the gospel message. For that we are exceedingly thankful. However, with the rise of some 15 countries after the collapse of the Soviet system in the late 1980s, there also came new tyrants who began bringing oppression and persecution back to the region once again.
But consider this: The rise and fall of nations gives us a perfect backdrop for the unending kingdom of the Lord Jesus – a kingdom that will never fall. And that’s something to sing about – even in unlikely places!