One of the greatest obstacles to evangelizing the world for Christ has been an unswerving opposition to Christianity by Communism. The method used to successfully block the advance of Christianity in Communist countries has been both subtle and direct. Freedom of religion is guaranteed, at first, but quietly and systematically, church work in welfare agencies, hospitals and educations is banned, church literature is restricted until only worship is left and this is usually scheduled when attendance is demanded elsewhere. The policy of the Communists outside of Communist countries has been equally defeating. By classifying religion as “an opiate of the people” used by “capitalists” to keep the “workers happy while exploited,” or by making missionaries out to be puppets of the “imperialists” the Communists have tried to make Christian belief as unattractive outside their immediate spheres of influence as they have within.
To document the above statements we shall present a few historical facts concerning the Christian Church in Communist countries. Next we will point out some overall obstacles which Communism has used in its cold war on Christianity; then, because the Communists believe in Evangelization to advance their cause, particularly among young people, we will emphasize some basic Christian beliefs that declare where we stand, and that we teach our young people. Finally we suggest some practical ways of sending Christ’s message into Communist countries.
II. What Has Happened to Christianity in Communist Countries?
A. The Church in the Soviet Union
The pattern in all Communist countries is clear: first, oppression of religion; second, divisiveness, and a militant movement of atheism; and third, use of what religion and Christianity remains for Communist ends. Communist leaders firmly believe that education can eradicate religion, something which they consider to be a form of ignorant superstition.
In the Soviet Union in direct competition with the Christian young people there has been a ‘League of Militant Godless,” which was disbanded in 1941, but was revived in 1957. In the same year at Odessa the government established the “House of the Atheist,” devoted to atheistic indoctrination. Some 10,765,000 persons were reached in one year through the 239,000 meetings held in this house. While Christian literature was banned or restricted, the League published a total of 14,200,000 pieces in one year. Through persecution, death, and various indirect means, the former 80 percent of Christian believers in Russia was cut to 30 percent by 1960. This encourages Communist leaders in their belief that “religion will gradually die out.”
B. Communist China and Christianity
Either every man, woman, and child must fit into the mold of what the Communist Chinese consider a good Chinese citizen to be, or they must pay the penalty. Atheism is taught with the same enthusiasm as in the Soviet Union. Though a church is in existence it has been forced into a nationalistic mold called the Three—Self Movement: self—support, self—management, and. self—propagation. God in China is a “benevolent” God who approves of the Communist program. Christian teachings have been changed into Communist dogma. The few churches that remain are in metropolitan centers and are showpieces for the Communists and their propaganda to indicate that freedom of religion is allowed.
C. The Church in North Korea
Similar patterns of oppression are found in North Korea. Between 1959 and 1960 seven thousand party leaders carried on a concentrated program of examination and censorship of all the people. In this process three million persons were liquidated, including all Christians. Present indications are that there is no surviving church in North Korea.
III. The Obstacles which Communism Presents to Evangelism
Not only are there past and present but also future obstacles io evangelism. Among them are:
1. Lack of contact with the outside world because of the iron and bamboo curtains.
2. Indoctrination with Communist ideology so that Christian beliefs are “educated” away.
3, The use of fear to confiscate personal freedom so that people cannot learn about basic world facts; people are drilled in the idea that individuals exist only for the state and not for themselves.
4. The use of tyranny that makes people dependent and expendable to the state.
5. Direct suppression of religion, or. the use of it as a propaganda device.
6. Subversion of young people all over the world who have no real knowledge of Communism.
IV. Ways of Meeting These Obstacles
A. Since we believe that Christianity offers something that transcends one’s material, political and nationalistic needs we here list some basic Christian affirmations that can be taught to our own young people.
1. We believe in an all—righteous, all—loving God who is the source of man’s existence and his only final deliverance from sin and death. Service to Him should be man’s primary motivation in continuing personal and social reconstruction of life.
2. We believe in moral and spiritual values founded in the character of God.
3. We believe in the supreme worth and dignity of persons.
4. We believe in a universal and’ eternal Christian fellowship.
5. We believe in the Kingdom of God. If men will obey the will of God, justice, and peace will increasingly prevail in history.
6. We believe in Jesus Christ, the son of God, as our Saviour and Iiord. Through His life and death He completed God’s plan of salvation and He alone reconciles all men to God and men to one another.
7. We believe in the Holy Spirit who guides and empowers man to work for the achievement of the Kingdbm of God.
8. We believe the Holy Bible to be a record of God’s revelation to men.
9. We believe in the Church as “the body of Christt’ •in which we carry on universal and eternal fellowship with God and with one another.
B. We offer the following concrete ways of sending Christ’s message to Communist countries.
1. We can use radio as a means o+ evangelism and to reach Communist countries.
2. We must find ways of sending the written message. Can we use other literature than our own to get this message across?
3. Balloons can be used to carry the message.
4. Water kegs can be used to send the message.
5. Where they are free to visit or live in Communist countries we can use people as living witnesses.
6. We must depend on prayer and the witness of Christian living. Only with God’s help can we surmount our many obstacles and find ways of taking His message. Only by righteous Christian lives can we overcome the economic, and political problems that make men susceptible to Communist offers.