‘Like men who dreamed’

Posted on 01 April 2008

Evangel 9:2 (Summer 1991)

‘Like men who dreamed’

Evangel 9:2 (Summer 1991)

They were heady days! As a member of the College ‘Eastern Europe Prayer Group’ our times of prayer for God to open doors were accompanied by the news of another revolution every time we met! The new openness in the Soviet Union and symbolically, the collapse of the Ceausescu regime and the death of the dictator on Christmas Day 1989 seemed to declare a new, better and secure age had arrived. The possibility of a united Europe (even a world) at peace became an almost intoxicating possibility.

Eighteen months later, the euphoria has passed away in the light of the cold reality of the new dawn. The Gulf crisis has posed serious questions both about world peace and the effectiveness of a united Europe. The massive problems now being encountered by the former eastern bloc regimes, as they try to move towards more market-directed economies, are beginning to trouble even the rather insular politicians of the west. The destruction of the Berlin Wall may yet herald an influx of immigrants which will swamp western Europe.

Post Cold War Europe no longer appears to be the Utopia envisioned but months ago. Confusion has replaced certainty. Where are we all going? Where should we be going?

The present issue of Evangel seeks to offer some tentative light from a Christian perspective. It offers a selection of articles intended to hint at the issues and directions which Christian thinking ought to be probing. Perhaps, the following observations can be made:

1. Klaas Runia’s short article should prompt evangelicals to find new and innovative ways of establishing supportive links between churches across Europe.

2. Fred Catherwood alerts us to some of the political issues which, as Christians, we need to establish as high on our agendas and on those of our own leaders.

3. Nick Baines’ incisive essay reminds us of the need to be fully informed of the history and the realities of life in eastern and central Europe. Only if this is achieved will political and religious answers be arrived at that have any chance of a lasting impact.

4. Philip Walter’s raises issues which inform us of both the strengths and the weaknesses of church life in the former eastern bloc countries. There are lessons for us to learn and be wary of both within our own church lives and as we encounter believers and churches in such countries.

5. Finally, Josef Tson reminds us of the danger that we can think in terms of ‘what can we do for them?‘ rather than ‘what can we learn from them?‘ We need to be humble enough to recognise that the suffering church in Eastern Europe has learnt much in persecution and privation which we have failed to come to terms with in the midst of our relative affluence.

These articles only dip their toes into deep waters, but they begin to chart the course through them and demand our reflection and action.