Recent changes within the Soviet Union have surprised most political observers, but those who have had close contact with Christians inside the nation say the elections and new emphasis on a free market, along with increasing religious freedom, are not surprising. “What happens now in the Soviet Union is not the result of politics or a leader,” said Brother Hamm, a well-known Russian evangelist. “Such great changes in such a short time are absolutely the result of many, many prayers of Christians worldwide.”
In 1984, Open Doors Ministries launched “Seven Years of Prayer for the Soviet Union,” with teams committed to praying around-the-clock. “We had people from our regional offices from all over the world praying daily for the Soviet Union,” said Chris Woehr, news editor for News Network International (NNI), which is affiliated with Open Doors. According to officials with NNI’s Holland office, over 1000 are participating in the international prayer link.
When the “Seven Years of Prayer” began, its emphasis was on asking God to open up the Soviet Union to Christianity. Soon after, the term glasnost, which means “openness,” began to surface in international news whenever reports were released from the USSR.
“We haven’t been surprised at the changes behind the Iron Curtain because of our prayer,” Woehr added. In February 1984, Open Doors published a list of 307 Christians imprisoned for their faith in the USSR. Since the publication of that list, the number has been reduced to 21. Vladimir Poresk, who was one of the first prayer targets, was released in 1986. In 1987 a prayer campaign was launched for the release of Alexander Ogorodnikov, and he was freed later that year.