Shaping the Nation: Politics and the Family
the cold war
By Kenneth Akers
To learn more about the ministry of Free Will Baptist Master's Men, visit www.fwbmastersmen.org.
When I was a child growing up in the hills of eastern Kentucky, we didn’t worry about much. True, money was scarce, but we didn’t worry about what we didn’t have. The one threat looming large on people’s minds was Russia.
In those days, the military stalemate between the Soviet Republic and the United States had become known as the cold war. Both had developed a powerful, nuclear arsenal. The public assumed that special agents from both nations sat beside a glowing button 24 hours a day, just waiting for the order to launch the globe into nuclear war.
In time, the threat grew less and less. Finally, on a memorable day in 1991, the Soviet Union dissolved, and Soviet president, Mikhail Gorbachev, uttered these memorable words, “The end of the Cold War is our common victory.” The Iron Curtain lifted, and the Cold War came to an end.
Today, however, Russia finds herself in another cold war—the coldness of her people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
My first visit to Russia came in 1995, when I traveled to Moscow on a mission trip. On that trip, I learned that the Russians were really no different than Americans. Though we speak different languages, we both share ideas and dreams, and we all need a Savior. During the first trip, I was deeply touched by the sadness of the people. Their freedom was very new, and many Russians were unsure of how to handle it.
Although many flocked to the church when restrictions were lifted, many more stood resolute against anything of a religious nature. While many people were saved through street preaching and other forms of evangelism, the overall reception to the Gospel was cold.
In April 2008, I was privileged to return to Russia. This time, the trip was organized by the Master’s Men Department. We would work at the youth camp in Tikhoretsk. Five men from five states, with five unique backgrounds, came together to reach people through hard work. A pastor from Georgia, a retired state worker from Illinois, a former postal worker from Arkansas, a preacher-promotional director from Alabama, and a hillbilly from Kentucky worked, preached, sang, and shared their testimonies for the cause of Christ.
I was surprised to see the significant changes since my visit to Russia 13 years earlier. Commerce has exploded. Malls and shopping centers, fast food restaurants, and other small businesses have popped up everywhere. Life seems much easier for the average person. Yet one thing has not changed—their cold reception to the Gospel.
While not everyone is against Christianity, and Russian Christians are seeing fruit for their labors, they face many battles. Russian Baptists are regarded as a cult. They face persecution from the government and even other religious groups like the Russian Orthodox Church.
During our visit we encountered several obstacles. But nothing we experienced in our 12-day visit compares to the life long battles Russian Christians fight because of their faith.
Please pray for Mikhail Penchuk, Stanaslov, Nikolaj Sobolev, and Constantin Rubinskiy as they labor tirelessly for souls in Russia. Pray for women like Anna Rubinsky and her sister Valentin as they direct youth camps—three camps lasting 11 days each, which are attended by mostly unsaved young people.
For the moment, at least, Americans don’t have to worry about the threat of Russia’s nuclear weapons. Today, both Russians and Americans face the challenge of reaching cold hearts of men, women, and children who refuse to be warmed by the Gospel.
ABOUT THE WRITER: Ken Akers is the general director of the Master’s Men Department. To learn more about the ministry of Master’s Men, visit the website at www.fwbmastersmen.org.