John Noble

John Noble – I found God in Soviet Russia

This might well be an older book but it is very much up-to-date since it is the account of a man of faith living among the godless. The appalling moral degeneracy of the Russian people after being denied knowledge of God is so very similar to what we see around us today; the answers are timeless, and this man’s testimony is a very strong one – and nicely written.

His family, which had lively Christian antecedents, had returned to Germany from the US for commercial purposes but was caught up in the final events of WW2 and unable to escape. They had been so focused on business that they were paying no attention to God at all. Noble describes himself as a careless young man. They were in Dresden and therefore part of the Russian zone and, as Americans, he and his father were arrested on false charges and thrown into prison. Here they were subject to a system designed to starve most of the prisoners to death, and it was as he was dying that Noble reached the end of himself. He had started crying out to God, but to no apparent avail – he was telling God what he wanted; finally he cried out in desperation “your will be done, whether death or life . . .” and as he did so his mind was flooded with peace, and over the next days, despite no improvement in rations, his body began to get stronger.

After months of essentially solitary confinement he and his father, who had also recovered faith, were moved on to Buchenwald, where Noble was able to share his new faith. His salvation was so clear that God was now his mainstay and purpose. The whole process of starvation and then recovered faith had in fact seen his father healed of numerous physical ailments; the father was now released and made his way back to the US, but John was shipped off to Russia, and to Vorkuta, great coal mines in the far north, commonly considered the worst destination.

At no point did Noble pray for release. Instead he figured that his presence in Vorkuta was God’s will, that he could help the faith of others there, but most of all that one day he would be able to reveal to the world what was happening.

He recounts the terrible conditions; the utter degeneracy so common among the Russian people, which he ascribes to their complete lack of knowledge of God; the cruelty with which prisoners were treated, the lack of regard for life; the great heroism of many of the believing men, notably nuns and priests – some of whom refused to work for the communists and were eventually left alone to pray; the thirst of many Russian ‘free’ workers for the word of God . . . and Noble’s eventual release before his 10 years was up. (The Soviet authorities denied all knowledge of his whereabouts, until a letter smuggled out and prayer by the father’s church led to US pressure that secured his freedom.)

While there is no point giving more than a taste of the book here, it will be understood that this is the sort of book one might feel all careless Westerners should read!