The loud ringing of a bell interrupted our class. The teacher commanded all of us to crawl under our desks. I was an elementary student in the public school system. It was the early 1960s, and we had just gone through an air raid drill. Substantial buildings in town were designated as fallout shelters in case of a nuclear attack. The Cold War was on, and it seemed that everyone was worried about the Russians.
As a young boy growing up in a Christian home, I was shielded from the things that most of my classmates were seeing in movies and on television. They did not seem to be bothered by the threat of war and violence. But I was petrified. To me, the Russians were atheists, and the prospect of meeting them was quite dismal. I was a believer in Christ! There could be no compromise!
As I was thinking about my own welfare, it did not occur to me to consider the experience of believers who actually lived in Russia. They were Russians too, numbering in the thousands!
What would it be like living as a Russian? Had the government of Russia always been opposed to Christianity? If not, what took place in history to bring the nation to this place?
The Russians' Secret tells about life in Russia, not only in recent times, but also through a thousand years of history. The rulers as well as the common people come alive in this story, with names and narratives about them that captivate the reader.
Many of these people were believers. Their lives had short intervals of peace, but most lived daily with the threat of prison and death. While we in the West were trying to protect ourselves and our lands from Russian aggression, the Russian believers were giving up their families, possessions, and lives for Christ's sake.
How did the believers remain faithful in this intense persecution? Why did the church grow so rapidly and large while experiencing horrible suffering? Why did so many believers turn their backs on wealth and fame to be numbered with the poor? Why did they choose suffering? What was their secret?
They believed Jesus, and they loved him! Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he die, yet shall he live!" (John 11:25)
"For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection" (Rom. 6:5).
Death to the Russian believers was not the end, but the beginning! It was the path to life. They saw a victorious Christ. Their lives were a celebration of Christ's resurrection, and their victory was found in calling on the name of Jesus.
Many believers refused to compromise on what some would call minor issues. Simply refusing to sign their name to a government document often meant years in prison, separation from family, and ultimate death. Believers in the West often have faulted them for such "unnecessary" disobedience. Was their consequent suffering senseless or was it a crucial part of the secret? The reader will have the opportunity to ponder the answer for himself.
Today, I am a father. My concerns and questions have changed. The question is not "Will persecution come to us?" But we must ask: "Have I chosen the path of suffering?" Will my children choose this path as well, or will the world swallow them? Is there a Christian bypass around this path, and will it lead then to Christ?
Our society has not become more Christ-friendly, yet there seems to be little pressure on the church. Is it because the church is in essence no threat to the world system?
The world does not hate good morals or values. It hates the Son! Where the Son is revealed, suffering follows.
The Russian believers succeeded when Jesus was their sole devotion. He became their Mighty Warrior who was also the Victor!
This book will encourage those who are risen with Christ to "set [their] affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For [they] are dead and [their] life is hid with Christ in God."
Lynn F. Martin
Shippensburg Christian Fellowship
October 23, 1999