“They…first gave their own selves to the Lord.” 2 Corinthians 8.5.
According to information received in January 1982 Galina Vilchinskaya, a 23-year-old Christian girl, was beaten in the concentration camp where she is serving a sentence for teaching children about Jesus Christ. In a recent letter Galina’s mother writes about the incident:
Camp authorities warned Galina that if she did not stop speaking about God she would pay for it. They continually frighten her with threats to put her in isolation or in a punishment cell. She was beaten by two vicious inmates while two others held the door. Such heatings are horrible. They beat you until you lose consciousness, then they beat you some more. The blood begins to flow and they still beat you. They do their best to leave as few marks as possible but all the same the damage to the body is enough to leave you crippled for life. But why do they have to pick on our poor defenceless Galina? On a previous visit she told us, “I’m so weak, I’d fall over if you just poked me.”
The other women in the camp get along with her well, so we have no doubts about the fact that the women who beat her were acting under the orders of the camp administration.
When I lived in Kiev, Galina was in my home several times. At 15 years of age, this fragile young girl became involved with the youth in her church visiting the sick and elderly and comforting them with the Word of God. Once she was caught by the police while visiting a sick elderly man. During the entire affair she courageously spoke out about the Lord and the policemen who had gathered around her heard about Christ for the first time in their lives.
Galina’s wedding was planned for the autumn of 1979. But during that summer she left home to work in a summer Christian camp for prisoners’ children, knowing full well that she might not return. Totally prepared to sacrifice all, she left home and…never returned.
In August she was arrested for teaching children’s Bible classes and was imprisoned in the city of Lvov (Ukraine). At the prison she sang hymns, recited Christian poems and spoke to others about Jesus Christ. For this she was transferred from cell to cell each one worse than the previous one, but because of this the entire women’s cell block heard about the love of Christ. Galina even taught them Christian songs.
Finally, after threatening her and realizing that she was not about to be shaken, the KGB (secret police) and the investigator for the public prosecutor locked her in a cold damp cell on death row, with several condemned women. After her trial she told her mother that
it was the most horrible experience of her life. Day and night the women would wail and tear their hair in despair. Galina sang to comfort and calm them. She spent two and a half months on death row before her trial, and all in all she was confined in prison a year before her trial. Usually only those who have committed serious crimes are confined for such a long period of time in prison before their trial. She was brought to her trial exhausted and pale but burning with the all-forgiving love of the Saviour Jesus Christ. She was given a three year sentence and they threatened to send her away into the most severe parts of the country where she would rot.
When word spread through the prison that Galina was being sent away, the prisoners collected a supply of dry bread and 8 pounds of sugar for her (each prisoner sacrificed a teaspoon or cube).
The threats were carried out and Galina was sent 12,000 kilometers (7,200 miles) away from home to the Primorsk Area where there is a concentration camp in the depths of the forest which still exists from the Stalinist era. There is no water near the camp and no paved roads leading to it. There, far away from her relatives, they hoped to break the spirit of this fragile but courageous Christian girl or destroy her physically. But the Lord has strengthened her and she has sung hymns of praise to Him and testified of His love.
Once again she is being transferred from one brigade to another, but she continues to take advantage of the situation. “I didn’t come here to sit silently with my hands folded in my lap,” she says, “I came to speak about Christ.”
Hunger, malnutrition, exhaustion, cold and severe living conditions have caused her hair and teeth to fall out and left her body covered with boils. Nevertheless, Galina has continued to bear the cross of Christ’s suffering with joy as she did before and her spirits are high. Her mother writes, “It is a comfort to know that Galina has remained faithful and steadfast, for which I thank the Lord.” The cruel beating brought more tears to the eyes of Galina’s mother who appealed to me, “Help Galina, help my dear daughter!”
I appeal to you mothers, fathers and young people, respond to this cry and bring it before the Lord’s throne in prayer. May this cry stir the sympathies of many and start a flood of petitions for this young Christian woman suffering for the sake of Christ.
May the Lord move you to help Galina!
International Representative for the Council of ECB Prisoners’ Relatives.