NASHVILLE (NRB) – With the dire warning that “darkness is falling in Russia,” Christians are called to faithfulness in the face of evil, Joel Rosenberg declared at Proclaim 18, the National Religious Broadcasters’ (NRB) International Christian Media Convention.
The New York Times best-selling author and speaker led a session March 2 on why Christians and Americans need to care about Russia and its leader, Vladimir Putin, who “poses a grave and growing threat to the national security of the United States and our allies of any power in the world — greater than radical Islam, greater than Iran or North Korea or China,” he said.
Rosenberg talked about a trip the late evangelist Billy Graham took to Russia in 1982, which allowed him to preach the Gospel and receive an invitation to return several years later to travel and preach around the continent. Through these trips, Rosenberg said, Graham’s preaching reached thousands of people as the door to share the Gospel remained open, beginning what many believe was the start of the collapse of communism.
Rosenberg summarized Putin’s reign in Russia, explaining why his popularity grew from less than 30 percent in 1999 when he began serving as Prime Minister, and later rose to 88 percent in 2008 after invading Georgia and occupying 20 percent of the country. Each shift in his popularity, Rosenberg explained, involved war on often unsuspecting countries.
“He’s not popular because he’s making day-to-day life better for Russians, but because he appeals to the blood lust,” he said, claiming that Putin creates a crisis, sends his troops to the field, claims the victory, and plants the Russian flag, which causes his popularity to soar. Rosenberg stated that Putin sees himself as a modern-day czar, and “sees his mission as rebuilding the glory of mother Russia.”
Putin’s leadership led to a decline in the population of Russia, but not because of war. Today, the population in Russia is three million less than it was in 2000. Men and women are dying, with one in four Russian men dying before age 55 because of drug and alcohol abuse, and families are not having children because of the societal conditions they would be born into, Rosenberg said.
Rosenberg explained three reasons why Russia’s recent history and the current affairs in the nation matter to believers. Not only does Russia pose a threat to America, he said, but fellow believers in Russia suffer under Putin’s rule, living without freedom and security. The doors once open to those preaching the Gospel in Russia — beginning with Graham’s 1982 trip — are closing today, he said.
Rosenberg said the Bible calls on Christians to “be watchmen on the walls,” meaning Christians must always be ready, willing, and able to identify potential threats to the nation, the church, and our fellow people, he said.
The Bible calls Christians to take the Gospel into dark places, he added.
“Darkness is falling in Russia. A czar is rising – at war with the Gospel, perhaps soon with us,” Rosenberg declared.
“More than 143 million people are slaves of an evil they either cannot see or cannot stop,” he added. “We must stand with our brothers and sisters who hear the prison doors closing and locking behind them.”
The era of evangelists like Graham preaching to thousands at a time may have ended, he said, but this does not mean the Church stops sharing the Gospel.
Additionally, Rosenberg said, the Bible calls believers to be “prayer warriors.” Christians often feel like they do not have any influence in global crises or issues when the issues seem out of control. He reminded attendees that “we are sons and daughters of the King of kings and Lord of lords and can have an impact on the course of nations by getting on our knees in intercessory prayer.”
Rosenberg encouraged attendees to remember Graham’s faithful work to share the Gospel throughout the world, which gives Christians hope for taking the Good News into dark places today. The Christian’s call is to faithfulness, Rosenberg said, and faithfulness even amid dark and difficult circumstances.
“I don’t intend to run from this czar,” Rosenberg said of Putin. “With whatever means I have, I intend to confront him. Not that I have much. A novel. A blog. A microphone or two. But what if you and I worked together? What if we sounded the trumpet, to arouse our government, the people, and the Church to each play our part? What if we took to heart what one man can do when he believes that 'nothing is impossible with God?'”
Billy Graham’s faithfulness should be a model for Christians today confronting Russia.
“There will never be another Billy Graham,” he said. “But there doesn’t need to be. We can pick up the cross and carry forth the mission. Our task is to be faithful — faithful to see threats, faithful to sound the alarm, and rouse people to action even in the face of great danger. Let us then be faithful, come what may.”
The best-selling author of 11 novels and five nonfiction books, with more than three million copies sold, Rosenberg’s latest novel, The Kremlin Conspiracy, released March 6.
By RuthAnne Irvin
Published: March 8, 2018