They were the judge, jury, executioners and morticians

“Charles, come to the front door; quickly” were the words that I heard and, when Grandma said it that way, I came to the front door quickly!  The excitement in her voice was precipitated by the arrival of her son, one of my favorite uncles, in his shiny, new, four door, black Buick Special.

The fact that he had his wife with him seemed not to be the issue.  It was the shiny, new, 1950, four door, black Buick Special. That car, for a time, would be the topic of discussion around the dinner table, with a number of punctuated and colorful comments by the Ford and Chevy owners. Raven 1

Politics would take a back seat as the details of this new black marvel of a machine were carefully, fully, and boastfully laid-out before the family.  These discussions very seldom ended amicably! Now fast-forward your mind fifty years to the future. The reaction of those living in Krasnodar, Russia, brought out a far different set of emotions to the surface when the black car pulled up to their home, business or place of employment.  It would not be a shiny, new black Buick Special, but usually a sinister looking Black Russian Volga, the trademark vehicle of the K.G.B. To some people living in the United States, the KGB. is simply a sister organization to the FBI, a government office of specially trained security people designed to fight crime.  Nothing could be farther from the truth.  The KGB was an umbrella organization of the U.S.S.R.  It served as Russia’s main intelligence agency along with its security agency and the secret police, all serving under its direction.

The acronym KGB (Komitet Gosudarstvennoy Bezopasnosti) translated into English simply means “State Security Committee”.   That sounds simple and non-threatening but the power behind and through this organization left all the living ones caught in its tentacles, gasping for breath and stability.   They were the judge, jury, executioners and morticians of the Government of Russia. The ones killed by this security agency have yet to be totally accounted for or numbered, but you can start your counting in the millions.

Raven 2The black car became the calling card of the K.G.B; the method used to raise the blood pressure of the populace; the fear producer of the normal Russian person. When the black car was in the neighborhood, it meant you stayed behind your closed doors, peeking through the windows, hoping it was not stopping at your house or business.

Some of the Russians called the secret police vehicle, “The Black Raven”.

The Reverend Vladimir Okhotin, writing in Let the Waters Roar; Evangelists in the Gulag (Georgi Vins, Compiler; Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, page 138) tells the story about the beginning of his vacation.

         Hey, Okhotin, we just got a call for you from the personnel office.  You have to go by and sign your vacation forms,” I was told.  Actually, I was already on vacation and had only stopped by work with my wife to pick up my pay.  “All right, I’ll go”, I said.  “You’ll go right over? You’ll be sure to stop by the office?”   “Yes, yes, I’m going.”

When we reached the building with the personnel office, I noticed a black Volga parked on the corner.  Right away, I knew something was wrong.  “I don’t like that black car,” I said to my wife.

We entered the building, and the woman at the desk said, “O good. We were hoping you would come.  Take this form for your head engineer to sign, then bring it back here.”  To my wife she said, “You can wait here for your husband.”

I took the form and left.  As I stepped out the front door, I saw that the black Volga was now parked in front of the building.  Two men standing beside the door grabbed me as I came out. 

          “Quick, get in the car!” one of them said.

          “What’s going on?  Where are you taking me?”

          “Don’t talk.  Just get in the car!”

With nothing else said, Vladimir’s ride to somewhere began and he did not even get to say goodbye to his wife Nadia or explain why he was not finishing his vacation. A small team of agents took him to a pre-determined location. They were probably armed with enough weapons to protect the leader of a small country. They could pick up an enemy of the government with enough luggage space to extract the evidence they needed and eliminate the enemy as well.  They liked the larger GAZ-13 Chaika (Seagull) with its powerful 6.0 litre V8, pushbutton-controlled automatic transmission and enough luggage space to accommodate the remains of two or three ex-enemy agents.  This large vehicle could also transport criminals to close or far locations.  It was the KGB, one-way Taxi.

Vladimir was found guilty for being a Christian and sentenced to prison.

Raven 3The Volga was the vehicle of preference for the office of Security. It may have looked like a commie copy of a ’53 Ford Custom sedan, as one car magazine’s test in 1960 reported, but its reputation was far more than an executive transport vehicle. Sleek, low-slung and preferably black, it was once an object of desire for every Soviet bureaucrat. However, in a country where for most citizens the alternative was riding an old, decrepit bus, the Volga was hugely desirable. However, the sleek look of the Volga was not what one observed when being taken for a “secure ride’ by the KGB.

Raven 4This was the car driven by cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man to rocket into space. It was the car the Soviets were proud to export to the British, describing its cabin as making “lengthy out-of-town voyages joyous”.

Dissident Soviets, Pastors, or businessmen of the time who found themselves bundled between a pair of KGB agents on the big back seat might not have noticed its comfortable ride and powerful motor.

As Vladimir was driven off in the “Black Raven”, it would be years before he would be returned to his family.  He was taken to trial in the court system and before the Russian judges because he was the Music Director of Children and Adults, leading them in Christian Music and singing hymns that were determined to be dangerous and against the laws of Russia.  Vladimir Okhotin, found guilty as a criminal for being a Christian, was sentenced to prison.Raven 6

Lorretta and I walked the streets where Vladimir and his wife Nadia walked.  Larissa, his daughter, told us about the places she loved and where she and the family played.  We ministered with Vladimir’s brother-in-law in the city of Krasnodar.  We were in the Lampados College office when the phones went silent, turned off by the Krasnodar officials of the so-called “former” KGB.

We stood in the train station where Vladimir was returned to his family following the years of wrongful imprisonment.  We talked with, had dealings with and ate in the home of the woman KGB agent who was responsible for turning many believers over to the KGB.  We witnessed what kind of illegal activities the “former” KGB agents were involved in throughout the city.  We talked to the business owners who paid the exorbitant bribes necessary to keep their businesses from being destroyed. We saw the burned out metal kiosk, the one with no water, or electricity or gas which strangely “caught on fire” in the middle of the night.

The wretched deeds and life altering treatment of the K.G.B. brought us to the realization that fear was not just a word found in the dictionary, but was part of the life style of the everyday Russian.

One needs only to read about the atrocities of the K.G.B. or look into the eyes of those who experienced the “black car” at the door to come to some understanding as to why the people lived secretly and felt absolutely crushed down.  The wretched deeds and life altering treatment of the K.G.B. brought us to the realization that fear was not just a word found in the dictionary, but was part of the life style of the everyday Russian.   When that kind of fear lives with you, one becomes absolutely convinced that your next step may lead to your trail of blood and mayhem and betrayal.

Russia did not identify their enemy or know where he was going or what he was trying to accomplish at the turn of the twentieth century. They closed their eyes and waited for the catastrophe to strike!  And strike it did!  The scary part, as we look at the situation before us in America, is that it seems some do know what they want and are determined to take the path that leads to the same road that Russia took in the world-changing 1917 revolution.

When they get what they say they want, they will not like it!

We are not personally interested in going that direction.  We have lived with those who have both “hit the wall” and were “hit by the wall”, simply because they were Christians.  Because they did not pay attention to what was happening, they let themselves be lead down a path that reached a political dead end where their leaders had purposely lead them!

It is strange to think that that may be ahead for America if we do not stand and make America great again now!

We do not think that Americans will enjoy the ride or the destination when they are placed in the back seat of that sleek, powerful black car!


If you have the opportunity to visit the city of  San Diego, California, spend some time with Vladimir, he can tell you about “the comfort” of the Black Raven!


“My Country ‘Tis Of Thee”

My country ’tis of thee
Sweet land of liberty
Of thee I sing
Land where my fathers died
Land of the pilgrims’ pride
From every mountainside
Let freedom ring,
Let freedom ring
Let it ring


My Country, ‘Tis of Thee“, also known as “America“, is an American patriotic songwhose lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831  while he was a student at the Andover Theological Seminary in Andover, Massachusetts and first performed in public on July 4, 1831 at a children’s Independence Day celebration at Park Street Church in Boston.

(Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia “My Country Tis Of Thee”.)


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