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Russian exile Georgi Vins dies of brain tumor at 69

ELKHART, Ind. (BP)–Georgi Vins, 69, died of a brain
tumor Jan. 11 in his adopted hometown of Elkhart, Ind.,
where he had founded Russian Gospel Ministries
International, Inc., after his exile from the former Soviet
Union. Vins was diagnosed with a malignant inoperable tumor
last fall.
In 1979, Vins was stripped of his Soviet citizenship
and exiled to the United States with four Soviet political
dissidents, in exchange for two Soviet spies caught in the
United States. The swap was arranged by then-President Jimmy
Carter. His family was allowed to join him in America six
weeks later.
In the former Soviet Union, Vins had been general
secretary of the Council of Evangelical Baptist Churches,
the leadership body of 2,000 persecuted congregations, and
had spent a number of years in prison for his Christian
activities stemming mainly from his stance against the 1929
Legislation Regarding Religious Cults which required any
religious groups to be registered with the government.
Vins returned to his native Russia in 1990 when
restrictions on his travel there were lifted by special
In a message to his supporters last fall, Vins had
written, “Of course, the Lord is powerful and could shrink
my tumor. But if not and God calls me to heaven, I won’t be
sorry to go! However, my greatest desire is that the work of
Russian Gospel Ministries continues — whether I am
personally on earth or with the Lord. Russian Gospel
Ministries does not belong to me or any man. It is God’s.
The Lord’s work must go on.”
Currently, Russian Gospel Ministries translates and
publishes Christian literature; supports about 50 national
pastors financially; helps provide funds to purchase land or
building supplies in order to construct new prayer houses
(church buildings) or remodel existing structures; ships
humanitarian aid, including food, clothing and medical
supplies; and recently had opened a medical clinic in Kiev.
Vins is survived by his wife, Nadia, five children and
three grandchildren.
His funeral will be at 11 a.m. Saturday, Jan. 17, at
First Baptist Church, Elkhart.