WHEATON, Illinois (EP) – Perestroika and glasnost are not Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev’s doing, a Russian church leader told delegates at an international conference recently. The reforms that have come to the Soviet Union are the work of God, he said.
“This is God’s timing for our country,” said the Rev. Yakov Kuzmic Dukhochenko, of the Ukrainian Baptist Church.
Dukhochenko addressed the participants of the Slavic Gospel Association’s international conference in Wheaton, Illinois, stressing that atheism in the Soviet Union is going through a crisis, he said, and the church in the Soviet Union needs help from the West to meet the resulting crisis of spiritual hunger. “It is our vision that we want to do as much as we can today, so that if the door closes, we will have accomplished something.”
Scientific atheism in the Soviet Union is in a time of confusion, Dukhochenko said, and atheists are in disagreement over what teaching materials should be published. As a result, the required scientific atheism course that was previously required in all universities will no longer be offered. Instead, an elective introduction to religion courses will include lessons on both atheism and Christianity. Dukhochenko also pointed out that a course on the Bible is already being offered at the University of Kiev by an Orthodox priest.
Courses taught in elementary and high school level classes have yet to be revised, said another Ukrainian pastor, Rev. Komendant. Both Komendant and Dukhochenko appealed for Christians in the West to continue to send Bibles and Christian books to the Soviet church. “Our problem is no longer how to get the literature into the country,” Komendant said, “It is how to get all of the literature that we need and how to get it into the country at a faster pace. We need at least two million more Bibles for the Ukraine alone.”