advocacy, Alexander Ogorodnikov, Christian persecution, Communism, dissident, Evin Prison, Faith J. H. McDonnell, freedom, Gulag, intercession, Iranian Christians, Islamism, Pastor Saeed Abedini, prayer, Russia, Soviet Union, Tehran, totalitarianism, tyranny
By Faith J. H. McDonnell (@Cuchulain09)
This week Front Page Magazine published my story about Russian Christian dissident Alexander Ogorodnikov. The news about a new biography of this courageous man, Dissident for Life: Alexander Ogorodnikov and the Struggle for Religious Freedom in Russia, by Koenraad De Wolf was what spurred me to reflecting on my own experiences with this hero of Soviet Union era Christianity.
I was very pleased that De Wolf has chronicled Ogorodnikov’s amazing story, and I hope that it will be read far and wide. It is a challenge to complacent, apathetic church members. It is an education into what “socialism” is really all about to Millennials and others may have had their views shaped by America’s own socialism supporters in public education and in the seminaries. And it is an encouragement that tyrannies and totalitarianisms – whether Marxist or Islamist – are not the final answer. Only God is the final answer, and He is able to deliver the oppressed.
You can read about my own experience with Sasha (Ogorodnikov’s nickname) in the Front Page article. It began before I ever met him, praying for him while he was in the Gulag. And then, the miracle! God answers prayer for his release and his pardon is signed by Mikhail Gorbachev himself. And to top it off – a few years later I was privileged to go with a small team from Church of the Apostles on a short-term mission to help Sasha form plans for a soup kitchen and many other ministries.
In Front Page Magazine I explained that reading Sasha’s story once again in Dissident for Life made me realize the significance of the experience of knowing and praying for and knowing a former prisoner of faith as I had never realized while it was happening. This made me wonder what experiences, what relationships in today’s ongoing battles for freedom around the world may ultimately be those that will make a similar difference.
For instance, right now we are praying for Pastor Saeed Abedini, imprisoned in Tehran’s horrible Evin Prison for his faith – along with dozens of other Christians as well as innocent Baha’i members. If God can open the prison gates and deliver Alexander Ogorodnikov from his Communist captors and then go on to use him to bring blessing to so many in Russia and throughout the world, He can do the same thing for Pastor Saeed and all those who are in prison and labor camp for the sake of the Gospel. Please pray with me for this miracle.