Many people have voiced the conviction that the present freedom for the gospel in the former Soviet Union will be short-lived. Certainly, forces are at work opposing the spread of the gospel.
After the doors opened for Christian work in 1988, it was easy to gather a crowd of thousands to hear the gospel. You did not need extensive advertisement campaigns. People were hungry to hear the Word of God. Some came out of curiosity, but most were sincere in their desire to know more about God and the Bible, which for so many years had been a forbidden book.
Today the situation is changing. People are not as ready to attend gospel services, especially in the main cities where most of the evangelistic crusades are being held. Some people are too burdened by the very difficult economic conditions, or too busy trying to get enough money for their daily needs. But others are disillusioned for one reason or another. They did not find what they were looking for.
I am afraid that Christians, both Western, native Russians, and others, are partly to blame for this disillusionment. Consider the kind of picture of Christian life that has been presented to the people of the former Soviet Union. Many Russians have an idealized conception of what a believer should be. This dates back in history to some of the Orthodox saints, who were poor in earthly riches but who went about the countryside doing good and helping the needy. I am not advocating imitation of Orthodox saints for the sake of adhering to a particular Christian tradition's ideal image. But by being insensitive not only to Russian culture, but also to the self-sacrificial requirements of a true disciple of Christ, some crusades may have contributed to turning people away from the gospel.
It would not be right to place all the blame for the present trend of increasing indifference for the things of God on foreign Christians. Indigenous Russian believers are not blameless. Just as Western worldly values and methods have affected Christian work, so also believers in the former Soviet Union have been influenced by communism and particularly its teaching that "the end justifies the means." We wish more believers there would practice honesty and trustworthiness in all that they do.
Pirkko Poysti is the editor of Prayer and Praise, Russian Christian Radio, Box 1667, Estes Park, CO 80517. Her husband, Russian-American radio evangelist Earl Poysti, has preached extensively in recent years all across the former Soviet Union.
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© 1993 East-West Church and Ministry Report