|At the birthplace of Joseph Stalin in Gori, Georgia (Stalin's luxury train)|
This region of the world is known for having been the recipients of some of the most brutal forms of persecution ever handed out by Communism and Islam. The entire region had been held captive by the former Soviet Union for decades. Christians were placed in prisons and many died under the harsh dictatorship of Joseph Stalin. It is estimated that nearly 22 million died at the hands of Stalin.
While preaching in Georgia I had the opportunity to visit a Baptist church in the very town were he was born and reared called Gori. It was a reminder of the lengths one will go to promote self and brutalize their own people when they reject the gospel of Christ. Stalin, as a boy, was reared in an orthodox church and even for a time attended a seminary. However, he eventually rejected all of his Christian influences and became an avowed humanist and atheist. Now nearly 60 years after his death, within five minute walk from the place of his birth stands a Baptist Church where souls are coming to Christ and where the Word of God is proclaimed. Jesus' name will outshine the names of those who have attempted to vanquish His from the minds of men.
After preaching in Georgia and seeing souls saved in a high school, at a university, and in a house church in a village, I headed to Yerevan Armenia. Armenia was unique in that the people had suffered not only under communism in the last century, but also severely under the Ottoman Empire (Turkey) for simply embracing Christ. An estimated 1.5 million had been murdered by Islamic soldiers who came from the west to crush the Armenians and take their lands. All of the people living in this small country had personal stories of their families losses.
|A older couple in Kamaris, Armenia who trusted Christ as Savior|
I travelled from there under radar to the country of Azerbaijan. I met with pastors and Christian servants that had labored hard and long in this muslim land. For sake of the security of these brothers and sisters in Christ, I cannot tell of all the work for the Lord that is being done in this place, but I can tell you that many are turning to Christ as Savior. One pastor spoke to me of travelling back and forth to the neighboring country of Iran and starting more than 40 house churches in 11 cities and towns. Another pastor spoke of being imprisoned 3 times for preaching the gospel. He shared how the most recent time, he nearly died for lack of oxygen in his cell. He told how for 3 days he would place his mouth over a small crack in a stone wall and inhale all the air he could find in order to survive. These were humble saints and had all paid heavily for their faith.
|Children asking Christ to be their Savior in Rivne, Ukraine|
|My pastor friend, Garik Khachatryan, in Republic Square, Yerevan, Armenia|