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The Forerunner

1988 - The Year That Shook The World!

By Editorial Staff
Published May 1, 1988

In the Soviet Union, China and Cuba, the Christian movement began to push back the tide of communism. What follows are news reports from those countries:

Soviet Union

In the midst of the pomp and fanfare of the 1000th birthday of Christianity in Russia, the younger generation in the Soviet Union is apparently showing a growing interest in spiritual matters. “There has been a religious revival among the young people,” said deputy Chief Father Vladimir of the Russian Orthodoxy’s main monastic center.

Young Russians are increasingly interested in joining the clergy, according to Time magazine, and they are attending church in unprecedented numbers. For example, at a monastery that reopened as a church after a period of government control, two-fifths of the congregation is in their 20’s and 30’s.

The growing interest in Christianity among the youth during the state-sanctioned celebration may stem from boredom, disillusionment, and cynicism – which the Soviet government is acknowledging as a problem.

This is most definitely a far cry from the rhetoric of past Soviet regimes, which predicted a total eradication of faith and Christianity by this date. As millions of nationals celebrate the arrival of the Christian gospel in the Soviet Union, and as young people return to the churches in record numbers, it will most likely open the doors for even more lively discussion in the Kremlin about the future of the USSR.

China

A spiritual awakening is taking place in the People’s Republic of China which has been attracting the attention of the concerned government for several years. The growth of Christianity in this country is occurring at record rates. Today there are an estimated 50 million believers in China, and at this present rate of growth the number may surpass 100 million in 14 years time.

What does the future hold for China? Although government restrictions are not likely to stop overnight, it is very likely that policies will become more relaxed as government officials become Christians. Reports are already being circulated about officials in all levels of the communist government who are having personal encounters with Jesus Christ.

On one of the most prestigious campuses in the People’s Republic of China, Beijing University, students instigated the destruction of a four-story tall statue of revolutionary leader Mao Tse Tung. Destruction of the statue was perceived by university officials as a move to lessen the late leader’s influence. A middle aged professor who helped erect the statue in 1967 said, “It’s a symbol of an era, and that era is over. Taking it down is only natural.”

Cuba

The moral leadership of Cuban Christians is gaining them respect in the eyes of state officials, according to a U.S. missionary leader who visited Cuban churches in January.

“The state is gradually recognizing the positive moral strength of the evangelical church and is showing an openness to the churches’ request for standing before governmental agencies,” says Gordon Johnson, president of Rio Grande Bible Institute and Language School in Edinburg, Texas.

Johnson, who has made 24 trips to Latin America, says that a change in attitude toward evangelical churches was noted in 1985 when a Brazilian Catholic priest, Frei Betto, interviewed Fidel Castro. “For the first time, Castro spoke of religion not necessarily as the ‘opiate of the people,’ but as a possible positive force in building a socialist state. This acceptance of ‘religion’ has lent a certain credence to evangelicals,” says Johnson.

Philippines

In the Philippines the gospel is changing the lives of huge numbers of people who in turn are changing the course of their nation’s history. With all of its poverty, factional political disputes, and problems left over from the Marcos period, the Philippines is a land of hope and opportunity.

A new president in February, 1986, replaced the corruption-ridden dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos as the result of concentrated days of national prayer. A revitalized military is headed by outspoken Christians who are making their mark in that institution. Pastors who had been uninvolved outside of their pulpits are now in the forefront of exposing the deceptions of communism from the light of Scripture.

The spiritual awakening occurring in the Philippines is incomprehensible to the communists who assume the spiritual dimension of man to be irrelevant. They may never know why their apparatus, so painstakingly built up over the years, faces what could be a steady, and even rapid collapse. The next two years are not likely to be good ones for being a communist in the Philippines, but there is no doubt that they will be a great time for the Christians.


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