After 72 years of communist rule, which had brought persecution and suppression for everyone including Christians, the Soviet Bloc began to loosen its grip on its people. In 1989, a couple of years before the collapse of the Iron Curtain, another wall was torn down—that of religious freedom. That year, Bob Provost, of the Master’s Seminary was sent to Russia to see what could be done to aid the believers there. Provost found the influence of Peter Deyneka and the Slavic Gospel Association, among others, had borne fruit. The persecuted church was indeed small (estimated 500,000 evangelicals in the country—p. 58) but it was vibrant. Provost discovered the most humble, joyful and hungry for truth Christians he had ever met (p. 12). In addition, the Lord had used the instrument of communism to protect the Russian church from false teachers from the Western world (p. 47). Bob knew that now was the time for theologically solid ministries in the West to help teach truth, train pastors, and strengthen churches—before the cults, liberals, and other false teachers flooded the country. Decades later great work has been done by the conservative Western church, but sadly heretics have been busy as well.
There is not much to critique in Tearing Down the Wall. It reads like a diary of Provost’s journey in Russia and the Eastern Bloc from 1989-1991. But I encourage anyone interested in the opening up of Soviet Russia to the gospel to read this little work and be edified by the recognition of God’s sovereign hand at work behind the Iron Curtain. One of the most encouraging statements in the book has to do with how Christian parents taught their children that Christ was sufficient.
“With God’s constant help, the majority of Christian parents and grandparents reared their children to believe that if they had Jesus they needed nothing more. This was an especially important concept, because as believers they were denied higher education and had no opportunities for good careers. They would never be able to buy a home or a car. But it did not matter because when they had Christ they needed nothing more. This conviction produced wonderful believers” (p. 70).
What a marvelous and insightful comment that should serve as a challenge to us all.
Tearing down the Wall, Prayer and the Untold Story by Bob Provost (Loves Park, IL: Slavic Gospel Association, 2019), 156 pp.
Reviewed by Gary E. Gilley, Pastor/teacher at Southern View Chapel.