At least 50 million people, and perhaps many more, turned to Christ in China during the brief period of increased freedom that followed the demise of Mao Tse Tung and his totalitarian regime. Concerned by this revival, Chinese authorities had already begun to imprison and even execute Christian leaders long before the student uprising and massacre at Tiananmen Square in early June 1989—peaceful demonstrations that were led, to a large extent, by Christians. Since that time, and particularly since the fall of Communist regimes in Europe, conditions in China have grown increasingly more difficult. There is great fear on the part of the leaders that the army could rise up as it did in Romania, and measures are being taken to prevent popular demonstrations of any kind. It seems likely that a new wave of repression against religion will be launched.
The new breath of freedom in Eastern Europe could well bring a similar revival there. As this book goes to press, there are indications that multitudes are coming to Christ. The following are brief excerpts from a few representative letters from the countries that formerly made up the Soviet Union, where so many are now believing the gospel after hearing it for the first time:
I was a member of the Communist Party for 25 years. How much harm I caused Christians! But God forgave me. I can’t believe the depth of His love. (from Rovno)
Together with some friends, I decided to rob a church….I came to the church to case the place and heard a sermon that was just for me….I repented. My friends think I’m crazy but I am praying for them. I want to tell everyone about Jesus. (from Grodno)
I was a hardened atheist….But now by God’s will I am proving that He does exist. (from Arkhangelsk)
I am already 80 years old and I just received my first copy of the Bible….I weep with great joy that God has sent me bread from heaven. (From Zaporozhe)
There are reports of many people who, upon hearing their first sermon or getting their first copy of the Bible, are being set free from sin and self for eternity. The following letter to the editor from a young man in Novosibirsk, Siberia, was published in “the popular Soviet weekly Ogonyok. It eloquently tells the story of what is happening to thousands:
I just turned over the last page of a great book, and I am overcome by feelings of gratitude and happiness. But there are some bitter questions which remain unanswered: Why only now, why so late? Half of my life is gone! Oh, if it could only have been 10 years earlier!…At the age of 30 I was able to read the Gospel for the very first time.
It was entirely by chance that this small book fell into my hands…and I was gripped by what I read….But gradually I began to boil with indignation: To think that such a treasure had been hidden from me! Who decided and on what grounds that this book was harmful to me? I realized that I have never been and never will be an atheist.
In our time of unrest and brokenness, when crystal palaces turn out to be cardboard shacks, when once majestic kings are now covered with shame, when under the granite edifices are unstable foundations of clay, then I know that there is a book to which I can always return, and it will help, comfort and support me in the darkest hour.