By The Wheaton College Archives & Special Collections Staff
Title: Siberian Seven Collection, 1978-1989
Primary Creator: Hill, Kent Richmond
Extent: 11.0 Boxes. More info below.
Arrangement: The collection is arranged by series with folder level control.
Date Acquired: 00/00/1993
Subjects: Christian biography., Christians - Soviet Union., Freedom of religion., Hill, Kent Richmond, Hill, Kent Richmond - Correspondence., Pentecostals, Pentecostals - Soviet Union - Biography., Persecution - Soviet Union., Political refugees, Political refugees - Soviet Union - Correspondence., Protestants - Soviet Union., United States. Embassy (Soviet Union), Vashchenko, Lida
Forms of Material: Clippings, Correspondence, Photographs
Scope and Contents of the Materials
The Siberian Seven Collection dates primarily between 1978-1983, with some material dating to 1989. The collection documents the struggle of seven Pentecostals who sought refuge in the United States Embassy in Moscow in 1978. The collection measures about 5 linear feet. The Siberian Seven's personal material consists of half the collection and consists mainly of their personal autobiographies and correspondence. Their correspondence is chiefly with Kent Hill and his wife, with some correspondence consisting of appeals to the governments of the US and the USSR. The photographs taken of the Siberian Seven are taken mainly in the American Embassy in Moscow. Other photographs are of the Seven after their 1983 release in Israel. Also included are maps, news clippings, articles, and expenses, all information pertaining to the Seven and their hopeful release. Kent Hill's personal material consists mainly of biographical information, his correspondence to Marianne Ridge of Christian Solidarity International, and correspondence to Paul and Annette Roush, who also spent time visiting with the Seven when Hill was working in the Embassy. Kent Hill wrote about the Siberian Seven in a number of publications concerning their stay in the Embassy that he submitted to Christianity Today and are a part of this collection. Remaining material is correspondence with support organizations who were working for the Siberian Seven's release. Also included are photocopies of the manuscript, Siberian Seven by John Charles Pollock.
Kent R. Hill, Ph.D. is Vice President for Character Development at the John Templeton Foundation. He is responsible for creating large-scale programmatic initiatives that engage fundamental questions regarding the nature, development, and benefits of the virtues and character strengths. These questions emerge from Sir John Templeton's passion for his Foundation to be a philanthropic catalyst for helping all of humanity to practice the virtues of love, honesty, generosity, gratitude, forgiveness, reliability, entrepreneurship, diligence, thrift, joy, future-mindedness, beneficial purpose, creativity, curiosity, humility, and awe.
Before joining the Foundation in early 2009, Dr. Hill served for seven and a half years in two Senate-confirmed senior administrative positions at the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington D.C. As Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Global Health, he was responsible for international health programs which in 2008 totaled $2.6 billion. As Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for Europe and Eurasia, he administered economic, democratic, and social transition assistance in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe with annual budgets averaging $1 billion. A particular focus of Dr. Hill's development leadership at USAID focused on nurturing the values necessary for democracy, free markets, and human health to take root and grow. He was USAID's senior interagency liaison for matters involving Trafficking in Persons.
Dr. Hill's previous career includes nine years as president of Eastern Nazarene College (Quincy, MA), six years as president of the Institute on Religion and Democracy (Washington, D.C.), and six years as a tenured history faculty member at Seattle Pacific University. An authority on religion in communist countries, he is the author of The Soviet Union on the Brink (1991) and has written and spoken widely on many topics, including democracy, human rights, religious freedom, Marxism, conflict resolution, G.K. Chesterton, John Henry Newman, church/state relations, education, interreligious dialogue, and international development assistance.
Dr. Hill received his B.A. in history from Northwest Nazarene College and an M.A. in Russian studies from the University of Washington (Seattle), where he also received his Ph.D. in history, with specialties in European intellectual history, Russian history, and East European history. He served in the United States Army as a Russian translator.
He is married to Janice, a reading specialist, and they have two adult children and one grandchild. He loves to travel, read theology and church history, hike, and play tennis.
In 1978 seven Siberian Pentecostals crashed past Soviet guards and into the United States embassy seeking help in emigrating from the Soviet Union because of religious persecution. Pyotr Vashchenko, Augustina, and their three daughters, Lidiya, Lyubov and Liliya along with fellow believers Mariya Chmykhalov and her son Timofei had traveled 2,000 miles by rail from the Siberian town of Cherno-gorsk.
Starting in 1961, Siberian officials began harsh anti-Christian campaigns and routinely disrupted Christian worship services and jailed many Pentecostal leaders. The Vashchenko children faced harassment at school—ridicule, ostracism and beatings. The following year the Vashchenkos decided to educate them at home, but the state ruled them unfit and removed their daughters from the home and placed them in state homes until they turned 16. In January 1963, while Pyotr was in prison, Augustina and fellow Pentecostals made international headlines for forcing their way into the U.S. embassy seeking asylum. When they were promised better treatment they left. However, the Vashchenko’s home was confiscated, their jobs were lost and they were imprisoned.
Known to the outside world as “the Siberian Seven,” they have lived as uninvited guests in a grubby 12-ft. by 20-ft. room in the basement of the U.S. embassy on Moscow's bustling Tchaikovsky Street. They shared two beds and earned small change around the embassy washing cars, knitting garments, cleaning rooms.
Inspired by Soviet Dissident Andrei Sakharov, after three and a half years in the embassy basement Augustina and Lidiya Vashchenko began a hunger strike—stopping their eating in a desperate bid to win world attention and shame the Soviets into relenting. Their health failed quickly. Their plan worked as the severity of their situation gained international attention and the hunger strike became life-threatening. Pyotr Vashchenko was opposed to their tactics because of his understanding of the Christian teaching against suicide.
While in the embassy, the group completed a 225,000-word account of their heart-rending saga, reworked by John Pollock as The Siberian Seven. Their experiences reveal the sufferings that Christians behind the Iron Curtain had been compelled to bear. It has been noted that the case of the Siberian Seven is a good example of the gravity of the human rights situation inside the Soviet Union.
According to an account by Kent Hill, he and his wife were living in Moscow as Kent was a Fulbright schola doing PhD research when they became acquainted with the Siberian Seven holed up in the U.S. Embassy. He ended up translating materials that they had brought with them to the embassy which documented the persecution of unregistered believers. This began a long saga that took five years to resolve before the Soviets gave them permission to emigrate. As for Kent, it was personally important because it initiated him into the plight of Christians in general under communism and was a life-changing event to meet them.
College Archives & Special Collections
Alternate Extent Statement:
4.5 linear feet
There are no specific restrictions on this collection.
Duplication may be restricted if copying could cause damage to items.
The Siberian Seven Collection was donated by Mr. Kent Hill and was received in the Spring of 1993.
Siberian Seven Collection (SC-52), Wheaton College Special Collections, Wheaton, Illinois.
The collection documents the struggle of seven Pentecostals who sought refuge in the United States Embassy in Moscow in 1978 and spent five years awaiting an opportunity to emigrate. In 1978 seven Siberian Pentecostals crashed past Soviet guards and into the United States embassy seeking help in emigrating from the Soviet Union because of religious persecution. Pyotr Vashchenko, Augustina, and their three daughters, Lidiya, Lyubov and Liliya along with fellow believers Mariya Chmykhalov and her son Timofei had traveled 2,000 miles by rail from the Siberian town of Cherno-gorsk.
Box and Folder Listing Browse by Series:
[Series 1: Siberian Seven
[Series 2: Kent Hill
[Series 3: Support Organizations],
[Series 4: John Charles Pollock
Browse by Series:
- Series 3: Support Organizations
- Box 8
- Folder 1: Business Correspondence From Ambassador Malcolm Toon, to Mr. James A. Gittings, April 3, 1979
- Folder 2: Business Correspondence regarding The Vashchenkos in the U.S. Embassy and their treatment
- Folder 3: Business Correspondence Letters written on behalf of the seven in the American Embassy and their treatment there
- Folder 4: Personal Correspondence regarding Vashchenko's story in the U.S. Embassy and their treatment
- Folder 5: Report, "Embassy Fact Sheet," sent out late May 1982, regarding Vashchenko's arrival and stay at the Embassy
- Folder 6: Report, Two CSI's visit to the State Department, it was a confrontation about the rules/regulations placed on the seven in the embassy", 1980
- Folder 7: Report, regarding Vashchenko/Chmykhalov cases, health, family issues
- Folder 8: Report, Senate Report, "Expressing the sense of the Congress with respect to the treatment of Christians by the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, 1980, Congressional Record, June 27, 1980
- Folder 9: Statements, Oliver, Spencer, "Statement on Principle VII," 1980- Kampelman, Max M., "Statement...U.S. Delegation Plenary Session-CSCE," 1981
- Folder 10: Articles, Lynch Kevin, "Down and Out in the American Embassy," "The Guests in the Basement," "Waiting for Mr. Reagan"
- Folder 11: Newsclippings, regarding The Vashchenkos in the U.S. Embassy
- Folder 12: Notes, regarding Case against the U.S. Embassy on negative treatment of Vashchenkos and Chmykhalovs
- Folder 13: Paper [European Effort], Danny Smith "The Price of Peace"
- Folder 14: Articles, Buzz, Hall, David, "Suburbian Seven?" Oct., 1981; Buzz, Hall, David and Steve Goddard, "Diary of a Demonstration," August 1981
- Folder 15: Correspondence Mostly Business Correspondence between CSI, Buzz (Danny) and Hruby, 1980-1982
- Folder 16: Correspondence to H. Stuckelberger, from Wilgot Fritzon, March, 1979
- Folder 17: Correspondence Copies of letters sent to CSI, copied in order to keep track of Soviet mail system, 1979
- Folder 18: Business Correspondence Rev. H. Stuckelberger, President of Christian Solidarity International, 1978-1979
- Folder 19: Business Correspondence Marianne Ridge for CSI, March-July, 1979
- Folder 20: Business Correspondence CSI, Oct-December, 1978
- Folder 21: Business Correspondence CSI, Jan-June, 1979
- Folder 22: Business Correspondence Christian Solidarity International, 1978
- Folder 23: Business Correspondence CSI, in French, and German, 1978-1979
- Folder 24: Business Correspondence from many individuals who are interested in CSI/Siberian Seven, 1979
- Folder 25: Business Correspondence CSI, 1979
- Folder 26: Business Correspondence CSI, 1980
- Folder 27: Business Correspondence CSI, 1980-1981
- Folder 28: Business Correspondence CSI, 1982
- Folder 29: Conferences, CSI Conference, 1979
- Folder 30: Publicity/Travel Notes, CSI, Not Dated
- Box 9
- Folder 1: Publicity, Coalition for the Siberian Seven, 1981
- Folder 2: Congressional Resolutions, House Joint Resolution No. 82 and House Floor Resolution No. 82-107
- Folder 3: Government Action/Policy, Congressional Resolution 100 in the House of Representatives, March 25, 1981
- Folder 4: EWNS, East/West News Service, February 1, 1982
- Folder 5: Publicity, EWNS, News packets and special reports, Oct. 1980/1982
- Folder 6: Business Correspondence regarding The Seven
- Folder 7: Business Correspondence between Kent Hill and Danny Smith, 1982
- Folder 8: Flyers/Papers, regarding The Seven (in many languages)
- Folder 9: Newsclippings, regarding The Seven, Not Dated
- Folder 10: Newsclippings, regarding The Seven, 1978-1983 (many languages)
- Folder 11: Publicity/Pamphlets, regarding The Seven and British involvement, 1982-1983
- Folder 12: Publicity, regarding The Seven, 1983
- Folder 13: Reports, Darrel Darby report on going to the USSR and meeting with the Seven and Soviets, September, 1979
- Folder 14: Pictures, Evangelism to Communist Lands
- Folder 15: Evangelism in Communist Lands, Letters and documents giving examples of persecution and unjust treatment of the Vashchenkos and others, translated by Kent Hill
- Folder 16: Reports, Atkinson, David and David Dick report on the meeting with the Committee for the Defense of Religious Freedom
- Folder 17: Pamphlet, pertaining to Evangelism to Communist Lands, 1955, 1979
- Folder 18: Pamphlet, pertaining to Evangelism to Communist Lands, 1980
- Folder 19: Pamphlet, pertaining to Evangelism to Communist Lands, 1981-1982
- Folder 20: Pamphlet, pertaining to Evangelism to Communist Lands, Not Dated
- Folder 21: Publicity, Friends in the West
- Folder 22: News Clippings, "Groups and Individuals Who Helped," 1979-1982
- Folder 23: Correspondence Notes, "Groups and Ind.'s Who Helped," 1978-1979
- Folder 24: Correspondence "Groups and Ind.'s Who Helped," 1980
- Folder 25: Correspondence "Groups and Ind.'s Who Helped," 1981-1982
- Folder 26: Articles, "Oldline," 1978-1979
- Folder 27: Article, Fritz, Esther, "New Hope for the Siberian Seven," in The Christian CENTURY, Nov. 5, 1980
- Folder 28: Correspondence "Oldline," 1978
- Folder 29: Correspondence "Oldline," 1979
- Folder 30: Correspondence RCDA, 1980
- Folder 31: Correspondence RCDA, 1981
- Folder 32: Correspondence RCDA, 1982
- Folder 33: Correspondence RCDA with Hruby, 1978
- Folder 34: Correspondence RCDA with Hruby, 1979
- Folder 35: Correspondence RCDA with Hruby, 1980
- Folder 36: Correspondence RCDA with Hruby, 1981
- Folder 37: Correspondence RCDA with Hruby, 1982, 1983
- Folder 38: Correspondence RCDA with Hruby, Not Dated
- Folder 39: Publicity, RCDA, "The Vashchenko Chronicle An Attempt to Emigrate: 1962-1978," "Religion and USSR: Vashchenko Case," "Soviet Law and Believers" 1978
- Box 10
- Folder 1: Publicity, Keston College, affil. with Society for the Study of Religion and Communism
- Folder 2: Business Correspondence Society for the Study of Religion and Communism, 1979-1982
- Folder 3: Business Correspondence Society of Americans for Vashchenko Emigration
- Folder 4: Correspondence SAVE, 1980-1981
- Folder 5: Publicity, SAVE
- Folder 6: Publicity, Voice of Salvation
- Folder 7: Publicity, Voice of Salvation Periodical, "Persecuted Church," 1982-1983
- Folder 8: Business Correspondence Research Center for Religion and Human Rights, Feb- May, 1977
- Folder 9: WWWC, Council Conversations: "The Siberian Seven..."
[Series 1: Siberian Seven
[Series 2: Kent Hill
[Series 3: Support Organizations],
[Series 4: John Charles Pollock