By Editorial Staff
Published December 1, 1988
EDINA, MN (EP) – It was an unlikely scene – a leading Soviet network journalist sitting in the front row of an evangelical church in Minnesota, listening intently to the service. Her camera crew roamed the aisles taping the service – worshipping, singing, and even praying – for later viewing in the Soviet Union.
It was a sign of Perestroika’s heady winds of freedom, which are presenting unique opportunities for the Gospel.
Leading Soviet journalist Svetlana Staradomskya recently spent two weeks in the St. Paul/Minneapolis area filming scenes of American life to use in her Soviet news broadcasts, which have an estimated national audience of twenty million people.
Staradomskya and her film crew travelled to a public school, a shopping mall, a nursing home and even a professional football game, but it was the two hours spent among believers at Grace Church in Edina, that proved to be the emotional high point of her trip. “Svetlana said that she felt an outpouring of love from Americans all during her stay here, but none more graciously shown than the love of the people of Grace Church,” said Diana Pierce, an anchorwoman for the local NBC affiliate, KARE-TV.
It was Pierce who invited Staradomskya to attend a service at Pierce’s church. “I wanted to invite her to come to a church service in the United States, and I thought it would be really nice if she could join me at Grace.” After a second invitation, Staradomskya agreed to attend. According to Pierce, Staradomskya was intrigued by the modern facilities and by the congregation’s concentration of young, professional people – a sharp contrast with the old and largely empty church structures in the Soviet Union.
Following the service, Pierce introduced her to the church’s senior pastor, Dr. John Eagen. “God bless you,” said Eagen. “God bless you back,” was Staradomskya’s surprising reply. When asked by Eagen if she really meant that, Staradomskya said in her heavy accent, “Under Perestroika, we are much freer to talk about God.”
Eagen remembers her curiosity about the “differentness of this place.” When she expressed uncertainty about the reason for that difference, Eagen replied, “I know what you are experiencing, Svetlana. It is the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”
The worship service in the large, non-denominational evangelical church proved so captivating to Staradomskya that she sought permission to return with a film crew the following Sunday. The Church not only agreed to the filming but also called Pierce and Staradomskya up to the platform where Eagen presented the Russian journalist with an American Bible. Inscribed in the Bible was the wish that she would “come to know the wonderful freedom of Christ’s love and the tremendous peace that results from an intimate relationship with Him.”
In brief remarks to the congregation, Staradomskya said, “It is a privilege for me to just be here with you and tell you that now I think this is what lives in our hearts and our souls: that Soviet people really want to make as many bridges with you as possible, to get more close ties in every sphere of life – economic, political – and perhaps one day will come when we get together in such a solemn place as your church to pray together for our cooperation, our love, our understanding.”
Following the service, people of the church gathered around Staradomskya, welcoming her to the United States and to Grace Church. Tears welled in Staradomskya’s eyes as several people greeted her in her own language. One individual pressed a Russian Bible into her hand, while another presented her with a copy of Josh McDowell’s classic apologetic book, Evidence that Demands a Verdict.
Speaking with people and hugging their children, Staradomskya became almost overwhelmed with emotion. Perhaps finding old words inadequate for new feelings, she simply stated, “I feel so full of human love.”
“Svetlana was very touched and truly overwhelmed by the love shown to her,” said Pierce.
Eagen’s message on the morning of the Soviet filming – planned four months earlier with no knowledge of what was to occur- was entitled “Revolutionary Living for Revolutionary Times” from Acts 2. It contained a strong presentation of the gospel. October 23, was also “Friend Day” at the church. Soon after arriving, Staradomskya pointed to a large banner in the foyer that said “Welcome Visitors” and exclaimed to Pierce that it was nice to be welcomed in such a manner. It was an error that Pierce did not have the heart to correct.
In parting comments before returning to the Soviet Union, Staradomskya mentioned to Diana Pierce that of all her reports, it was her report of her visit to the church that she would treasure the most.
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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).
Welcome to the Second American Revolution!
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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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
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Exposes the Dangers of Abortion to Women!
These shocking eyewitness accounts expose the dangers of abortion not only to unborn children, but to the health and lives women as well. An antidote to the smokescreens of the liberal media, these six short clips show what really happens in and around abortion clinics.
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Watch these pro-life videos on-line.
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Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
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God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
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Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
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