Understandably, Soviet Protestant leader Georgi Vins has been showered with attention in Christian circles in the West. His surprise release from a Siberian work camp and deportation to the U.S. in late April following years of imprisonment and harassment was received as a welcome answer to prayer. Vins, however, has mixed feelings about what happened, and so do we.

Vins was stripped of his citizenship, ousted from the land he loved, and removed from direct contact with the churches he ably served. He belongs in his own country, where his ministry is needed—but with his rights intact. He was hounded and jailed by Soviet authorities solely for his religious activities, an appalling violation of the Soviet Union’s own constitution.

Sadly, a number of others like Vins—no one, including Vins, knows how many—are still in jail. Continual pressure must be placed upon the Soviet government; there can be no letup until Soviet believers are permitted to exercise their God-ordained rights.

In the months ahead, Vins and his family will need assistance in starting a new life. He will need protection from would-be exploiters while seeking new opportunities for Christian service. He may wish to reassess his position regarding the dispute that split the Protestants in the Soviet Union in the 1960s. Basically, that dispute was over government interference in church affairs: Vins and some other leaders argued that any intrusion ought to be resisted at all costs; but the majority of the Protestant leadership, deeming it best for the survival of the churches, chose to cooperate with the government in hopes that significant rights could be retained or gained. The widespread closure for decades of churches in Albania, China, and North Korea, where ...

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