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Predvestnik: The Russian Language Forerunner

Tatarstan: Making a Decision Between Islam and Christianity

By Editorial Staff
Published April 1, 1994

A Special Report from the Russian language Forerunner

By Oleg Aleksandrov
Translation by Roman Medvid

KAZAN, Tatarstan – The spread of the gospel in the former USSR has become an irreversible process. You can hear a lot about new churches and Bible schools being started, Christian literature being distributed and the lives of millions of people being healed.

The louder the gospel proclamation, however, the more indignant are those who see it as a threat to their well-being. It is no wonder that many inter-religious and inter-denominational problems emerged recently. These conflicts are dramatized in major cities where religion is tightly knit with nationalistic endeavors.

One of these “hot spots” is Kazan. The capital city of Tatarstan, the city is a large industrial, academic and cultural center in the Volga river valley region. The population of Kazan surpassed one million many years ago. Russians and Tatars make up 90 percent of the city, having equal shares of the population. However, local government offices and economic leadership are dominated by people of Tatar nationality. In attempt to maintain and enlarge their influence, the Tatars are evoking national conflicts. One of the most influential means, Islam, is the most traditional and common religion for the majority of the population.

During the rule of the Soviet Union, the roots of Islam were not entirely done away with in Tatarstan. Even though many priests were persecuted, many mosques were closed and Islamic religious literature was banned, the Muslim presence remained. Having penetrated the historical and national traditions of the Tatar nation, Islam recently became the “national religion,” as opposed to Christianity, which had been brought here by Russian migrants.

Antagonism between the two religions reached its climax recently. The conflict led some nationalistic groups under Islamic banners to call for the jihad, or “the Holy War.” The ideological position of Islam sees a struggle with another religion’s adherents as something that pleases Allah and every person killed in the struggle is seen as a martyr.

However, this extreme position has not been in favor with the common people of Tatarstan. In fact, the Orthodox Church, characterized by a great tolerance of other religions, has never promoted the conflict. Relations between Russians and Tatars have never been in enmity. Before it became a means of political struggle, Islam never had this strong support from the government.

Now the shift has taken place: old mosques in the Old City are being rebuilt at a rapid speed, new ones are built in modern districts and Islamic literature is being distributed through regular news stands. The idea is being promulgated among the common people that a real Tatar is to go to a mosque. Mass media promotes traditionalism, a return to old religious values and a refutation of anything new that has come during the past few decades.

This situation causes many problems to numerous young Christian churches, missions and centers. Evangelical Protestants have to counter much opposition not only from the government and followers of Islam, but also from the Russian Orthodox Church. Members of different Protestant denominations are far from agreement. This fact inevitably leads to the weakening of their influence. We hope that Christians from all denominations and confessions would unite in order to carry the Word of Truth to the people.


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Go Stand Speak (DVD)

With “preaching to the lost” being such a basic foundation of Christianity, why do many in the church seem to be apathetic on this issue of preaching in highways and byways of towns and cities?

Is it biblical to stand in the public places of the world and proclaim the gospel, regardless if people want to hear it or not?

Does the Bible really call church pastors, leaders and evangelists to proclaim the gospel in the public square as part of obedience to the Great Commission, or is public preaching something that is outdated and not applicable for our day and age?

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“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

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This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House.

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“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine

Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese

Running Time: 28 minutes

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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