Book Review: Beyond The Rapids

24 Feb

Beyond the Rapids is the true story of Ukrainian pastor Alexei Brynza and his wife, Valentina, who endured persecution in a culture that was hostile to their faith as they struggled to raise their four children as believers.

Spanning the years from the Great Terror of the 1930s to the time when believing in Christ is no longer a crime, this close-knit Ukrainian family quietly persisted through the years, trusting God for everything. The Brynzas’ children, forced to choose between God and the communist system, wrestled with temptations of ambition, popularity, love, and wealth. But God heard the faithful prayers of Alexei and Valentina, and the Brynza family was able to not only survive, but to thrive. Their son-in-law, Igor Yaremchuk, adds his own testimony of coming to Christ with the help of miracles and atheistic propaganda.

Beyond the Rapids is a story for all believers everywhere. Parents—even parents of wayward children—concerned about raising their children as Christians. Believers facing trials, or who are concerned about the erosion of religious freedom and how to stand firm in their faith.  The Brynzas’ testimony of God’s faithfulness will give hope and inspiration as you are reminded anew that God is with you, in every moment. And as you sail through the torrents in your own life, God will meet you right where you are and guide you to the smooth water beyond the rapids.


About the Brynzas:

Alexei Brynza served as a Baptist pastor in the Khortitsa Baptist Church near the city of Zaporozhe from 1975 to 1990.  In 1975, he was named senior pastor for the Zaporozhe region, overseeing over 30 churches.

He and his wife, Valentina, had four children, Yakov, Viktor, Lena, and Veniamin. In spite of pressure from school government officials, they brought their children up in the church, even during the years it was illegal to do so.

Following the fall of the Soviet Union, Alexei Brynza was asked to be the first president of a new seminary to train Baptist and Evangelical Christian pastors and Christian education workers, to be located in Irpin, suburb of Kiev. He served in that role from 1990 to 2008, resigning only a few months before his death.  His son-in-law, Igor Yaremchuk, now serves as president of the Irpin Biblical Seminary.

All four of the Brynza children came to know Jesus as their savior.  Beyond the Rapids tells of their struggles and triumphs, and how these faithful parents were able to defeat the efforts of the government to prevent them from passing on their faith to their children.  All of Alexei and Valentina’s children are currently serving in ministry.


About the author:

Evelyn Puerto left a career in health care planning to serve as a missionary for seven years in Russia. On her return to the US, she worked in missions and not-for-profit management. Her missions work has taken her to many countries in Europe, Asia, and Africa, but she feels the greatest bond with Russia and Ukraine, and she especially misses the hours she spent drinking tea with the friends she made there. Following her return to the US, she got married, inheriting three stepdaughters, two step-grandsons and a cat. She and her husband Tony live in St. Louis, Missouri.




My Impressions:

What an eye opener!  Beyond The Rapids gives an inside look at life in the Soviet Union during the Communist era. There were so many things I never knew about the persecution faced by Christians during this time.   Government agencies, teachers, KGB, police, employers, neighbors, co-workers were all used to put pressure on and to harass those daring to live their lives for Christ.  The story of the Brynza family is a testimony to God’s care and provision for his people.  Sometimes providing miracles, sometimes providing protection, sometimes just providing His presence during trials, God remained faithful to this family no matter what they faced.

Each chapter has a quote from Communist leaders, slogans, or propaganda literature and a corresponding quote from scripture.  How could the Soviet people be duped?  Are we in the United States that much different?  Our society is much more subtle than that of the communists, but, perhaps more effective in luring us away from Jesus.

In the epilogue, one of the family, son-in-law Igor, states:  In my time in America I was amazed.  In a country of religious freedom, why weren’t more people flocking to the churches?  And how could people be so careless with God’s Word?  In a land of material plenty, it seemed that the thirsty Americans were chasing after salt water, and missing the true, living water that was so abundantly available to all. (p. 320)

I highly recommend Beyond The Rapids to anyone wanting to know more about the struggles of Christians in different cultures and desiring an insight into what we as American Christians face as well.


Highly Recommended.


(I received a copy of Beyond The Rapids from the author in exchange for an honest review.  The opinions expressed are mine alone.)

2 Responses to “Book Review: Beyond The Rapids”

  1. Book Reviews at BookRack February 25, 2011 at 1:26 am #

    Thank you for the review. Does sound really interesting!


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