Soviet Baptist pastor Georgi Vins arrived at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York April 27 a free man, and many Christians worldwide saw living proof of answered prayer. Baptist groups, missions agencies, and local churches had mobilized prayer and letter support for Vins, who was released along with four other Soviet dissidents in an exchange with the United States government for two convicted Soviet spies.
Vins, 51, probably the best-known of the persecuted Soviet churchmen, had just finished a five-year jail term deriving from his involvement with the illegal Council of Churches of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (CCECB). He had begun serving an additional five years in Siberian exile, when the White House announced his release.
He immediately began a hectic schedule—meeting with dignitaries, State Department officials, and former acquaintances. Vins was met at the airport by Olis Robison, an ordained Baptist who is president of Middlebury College in Vermont. Vins planned to stay several weeks at Robison’s home near the 1,800-student campus. (Robison has made a number of trips to the Soviet Union, and on one such trip last year, he began the negotiations that led to Vins’s release.)
Michael Bordeaux, a Vins biographer from Keston College near London, England, called U.S. State Department contacts immediately after hearing of Vin’s release. Those contacts arranged for him to meet with Vins. Bordeaux traveled to New York at his own expense.
Bordeaux, who is fluent in Russian, served as Vins’s interpreter during Vins’s first days in the U.S. Bordeaux helped arrange an interview between Vins and CHRISTIANITY TODAY senior editor Edward Plowman in New York, less than a week after Vins’s arrival. (See box.)
On the Sunday following ...1
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