Recent news reports on Russia remind me of days of the Cold War and Soviet domination.
My Dad had a vision of Satan’s attack on the children of the world, and he knew the answer was God’s Word. He responded with our first Book of Hope—a harmonized version of the Gospels presented in a way that children and youth can easily understand.
Word of the Book of Hope was beginning to spread around the world. Pinochet in Chile and Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua heard about the Book of Hope and invited us to come to their countries. Fascists and communists were inviting us!
Suddenly, I found myself sitting before the Minister of Education for the former Soviet Union. As I began to explain what the Book of Hope was doing for kids in other countries, he interrupted.
“Excuse me. But do you know where you are? This is the Soviet Union! For 70 years, we have taught our young people to believe something that no longer exists.
And now we have something new coming to our country and it is called ‘choice.’ And with choice, will come everything from the West. Movies, music, drugs, and pornography—we are looking at becoming the greatest moral catastrophe this world has ever seen!
If what you are telling me is true and this book can bring hope and answers to our children, we welcome you into our nation.”
I walked out of his office with a letter of permission to give the Book of Hope to every single schoolchild in the former Soviet Union, totaling 58 million kids.
The communists invited us to one of their elite schools filled with their leading students and best teachers. Since it was during the time of Glasnost and Perestroika, they had cameras there to show their new ‘openness.’ I was escorted by the principal to hand out the Book of Hope at School Number 715 in Moscow and given 5 minutes to tell the story of Jesus. How do you tell the story of Jesus in five minutes to kids who were taught their entire life that Jesus does not exist, that God is a lie, Christianity is a myth and the Bible is a fairytale?
But the sovereign work of His Holy Spirit can do more in five minutes than you and I can do in a lifetime. He can do more in five minutes than it took communist atheism 70 years to build.
I told the story of Jesus as simply as I could while their English/Komsomol teacher—sent to indoctrinate them in atheism—translated.
At first, she boldly translated. Then she slowed considerably. I was afraid she was angry at having to interpret things she did not believe. Instead, that 32-year-old Russian teacher had tears flowing down her cheeks.
She was hearing the story of Jesus for the first time in her life. “Sir, I am sorry. I cannot continue. I need to know right now—when school is over, what church do I go to and what man do I speak with so that I can accept Jesus in my life?”
I replied, “Ma’am, you do not need to go to a church or speak to a man. You can accept Him into your life right here and right now.” A smile broke across her face.
“The children also want to know, can they accept Jesus or are they too young?” she asked. I asked her to tell them that no, they are not too young, and if they want to accept Jesus, have them stand to their feet.
With the cameras rolling, 32 children stood to their feet in the center of Moscow and bowed their hearts and gave themselves to their savior, Jesus.
After the Iron Curtain fell, many ministries rushed in. Some were simply there for photo ops, most never took the time or expense to move beyond the major cities. Although many triumphed in evangelism after the fall of the Iron Curtain, few had invested long-term resources into planting churches and discipling new believers. Thankfully national indigenous movements are helping build strong church planting movements. Our partners have identified nearly 100,000 towns and villages in Russia with no church, and are working to address this by planting 10,000 churches in Russia before 2020.
A new brand of Russia nationalism and expansionism is emerging that could create a new cold front similar to Soviet times. No one can predict how long the door will remain open for evangelism and church planting, but we must continue to serve our partners as they serve the “Forgotten Russia“. If you’d like to learn more about Russia, explore
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