America and Russian Communism
September 19th, 1965 @ 10:50 AM
AMERICA AND RUSSIAN COMMUNISM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
9-19-65 10:50 a.m.
The brethren have done a most gracious thing this day for me. They have bought fifteen minutes extra time on television and on radio. They have turned the service over to me at thirteen minutes after eleven. So I have more than a full hour for the first time in my life, and I exult in it. I feel so good—a full hour, unhurried, just to speak the things in my soul. If you are listening on television Channel 11, this is the First Baptist Church in Dallas. If you are listening on the radio KIXL, this is the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the eleven o’clock morning message entitled America and Russian Communism.
A young Danish naval officer got on the plane with me in Copenhagen, and we sat side by side on the journey to Oslo, the capital of Norway. He is very active as a Danish naval officer in NATO. And as you know, Denmark and Norway are vital units in the NATO compact. In fact one of the biggest military installations in civilian form I ever saw in my life is located in Oslo, one of the great NATO centers for the defense of Western Europe. So as we talked about Denmark, he said that the government almost prohibited visitors to turn eastward, Russian-ward. They are so violently anti-Russian. And he spoke of the same thing about Norway and its immeasurable and appreciated contribution to the defense of the free world.
I had all of that in my mind when we stopped in Oslo and I visited the beautiful, beautiful city. You’ll see Wednesday night, I’m going to try to present those pictures in two parts. The first part will be of Russia. And then we’ll have a benediction and those who must leave with children may do so. But the second part we’re going to look at some of the beautiful country of Norway, of Scotland, of Austria, of the Scandinavians, Finland and Sweden, and other things; as well as the drab, dreary land of Russia and the tragedy of the Berlin Wall.
I wasn’t prepared for anything in Norway except the feeling of friendship and comradeship with our American people in the defense of the free world. Oslo is built around one beautiful street from the king’s palace to the Parliament building. It is called Karl Johans gate, the Karl Johans street. It has by the side of it one of the most beautifully interesting parks in the world, where the people sit, where they have little tables and they take time to sup coffee and other things.
Well, I was walking down that beautiful street and I saw a crowd in front of the Parliament building. I was in Oslo about three days. That crowd never dissolved. It was always there. I elbowed my way up to the center of interest and I found there a garish picture. You’ll see it Wednesday night in livid and violent colors. It was one of these modernistic presentations and was in three dimensions, sort of. There were broken letters of Vietnam and indications of pillage, and war, and depredation. Then in the center there was a dismembered child, and the blood was pouring down over an American flag.
I felt a seething reaction. It was guarded by a policeman on this side and one on that side. I walked to this one. I asked him, “Can you understand me?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Isn’t this the Parliament building?”
“Aren’t these government grounds?”
“Then why on government grounds is a blasphemous picture like that?”
“Well,” he said, “I feel the same way about it as you do. And our people feel the same way about it as you do. But,” he said, “the artist, his name is Slettemark, a bearded left-winger. The artist belongs to the Norwegian Art Society, and once a week they present a picture who stays there in presentation for the week. And,” he said, “this was Slettemark’s picture.” He said, “We’ve had two violent riots here. And that’s why the government has stationed us to guard the picture.” He said, “The police department has made appeal to the government that they be removed but in the name of art, in the name of art, the picture is allowed to stay.”
That has been typical of the entire left-wing, socialist, communist world that I have seen throughout Europe. As the ambassador to Moscow for the United States said, “However the communists may differ, they all agree on this one thing: an implacable hatred for America and the American way of life.” I read for two weeks the English language newspapers and magazines of the Soviet. They never deviate. There is never a kind word about our country or our people. There is never a syllable of appreciation for what we are seeking to do for an oppressed world. But every line, and every sentence, and every syllable, and every word is one of blasphemous accusation and denunciation.
While we were gone, something happened in Los Angeles. And the official Intourist agent said, “In Los Angeles, there are more than four thousand people that have been placed in prison. And the United States army has mowed down the people, men, women, and children, with Tommy guns and machine guns.” I wondered what had happened in Los Angeles. And this is the editorial account in a Russian newspaper:
There are moments when one cannot remain silent. Profoundly shaken by the ghastly treatment dealt out to the Negro in Los Angeles, we express our indignation, bitterness, and pain. What kind of a great society is this, where people are shot down with Tommy guns and machine guns? The events in Los Angeles bring to the human mind the barbarous violence of the American troops in Vietnam and the Dominican Republic. We can distinguish the same pain and suffering on the faces of the beaten up and maimed Negros in Los Angeles as in the eyes of the Vietnamese children burnt with napalm.
And it goes on, and on, and on, and on, and it never deviates.
On the anniversary of the dropping of the bomb in Hiroshima, they wrote this:
The attack on Hiroshima was an act of wanton brutality. Its destruction was a deliberate political move to make Russia more manageable. The real purpose was directed against the Soviet Union. But the existence of the Soviet armed forces based on the country’s powerful industries makes nonsense of all nuclear blackmail. On our side is history and the real balance of world power.
Cuba, the isle of freedom, Cuba, the isle of freedom has proved a hard nut for the American imperialists. The Western Hemisphere can no longer be regarded as a capitalistic domain. The Soviet people are among the most faithful of Cuba’s many friends.
Again, “America abhors public scrutiny of its actions and policies.” In this free democracy where any newspaper, and any editorial, and any politician, and any speaker can say anything that he pleases to criticize anybody, or anything, or any plan, or program, or policy, of the government, they say this: “America abhors public scrutiny of its actions and policies.”
The Western powers and notably the United States are hampering a disarmament settlement. American aggression in Vietnam, and the Dominican Republic, and imperialist drives in Africa have heightened world tensions and increased the danger of another world conflict.
It’s always America.
United States actions against peace have aroused a legitimate indignation of the peoples of the world. The Soviet people whole heartedly back their government’s policy of supporting and helping nations who are attacked by the imperialists of the United States. President Johnson’s references to peace in Vietnam are nothing but hypocritical attempts to disguise the United States imperialist policy of extending aggressive war. America thus violates the aspirations of the Vietnamese people and the peace-loving peoples of the world. The State Department of the American government has declared that the escalation of the war in Vietnam is accompanied by President Johnson’s peace offensive. This so-called peace offensive is nothing but a smoke grain for overt imperialist aggression. The foreign policy of the Soviet Union is engaged in the peaceful pursuits of consolidating friendship, and understanding between nations, and extending support to the heroic Viet Cong and to other peoples fighting for freedom and independence. In their struggle for freedom the peoples of Asia, Africa, and Latin America know that the Soviet Union is their loyal and staunch ally.
Look at this: “Peaceful coexistence,” now here they’re going to define it, “Peaceful coexistence with the United States does not mean appeasement, nor does it mean concessions to the government of Washington. It means a struggle against American imperialism and the support of all national liberation movements.” And what they mean by national liberation movement is Castro in Cuba, and that fellow Min Ho in North Vietnam, and the Rónai of Hungary.
And the pictures they have in their newspapers have the same unvarying theme. They never deviate. Here is one. It is captioned underneath and they say the underdeveloped nations are illiterate. And then there are American soldiers and around them, “Get out, Washington,” pointing out. “Yankee, go home. Get out. Get out.” Here’s another one. Escalation, here’s a picture of the islands of the West Indies. Here is an American officer and he says,
Let us take, for example, an island where five hundred residents of United States nationality are in danger. We send five hundred Marines to protect them. That makes one thousand United States citizens in danger. We then send, therefore, one thousand Marines and that makes two thousand Americans in danger. At this point we send two thousand Marines and that makes four thousand American citizens in danger—escalation.
Here’s one on “Design for United States Embassy building, 1965 model” and it is a bustling encampment of war. It has dragon’s teeth, and mines, and barbed wire, and cannon, and antiaircraft. This is the embassy building of our United States government.
Here is a caption of “A costly war,” pouring in money into South Vietnam and the barrel is leaking. Then the second one, 1965, pouring in American soldiers, and skulls and crossbones are pouring out.
Here’s one on the common market in arms, and the people are coming to buy arms made in the United States, as though all that we were interested in was selling implements of war to the nations of the world.
And here is the description of a free world. It is a heap of indescribable outhouses and it is entitled “Poverty Row.” And then there’s a poor, emaciated critter reading “The Daily Pot Shot” and the headline is “Increase Aid to Vietnam.” And then down on the ground is a piece of the paper: “Congress Stalls on Aid to the Poor.” Then the caption: “They’ve got priority. They’ve got a communist menace.” And it goes on, and on, and on; solidified in just one thing, hatred, implacable and undying, for the American people and the American way of life.
We look at their land. This, this is the land of the Bolshevik Communists. This is the land of communist liberation. This is the land of Karl Marx and of Nikolai Lenin. What kind of a land is it? One, it is a land of fierce, and vile, and false propaganda. The official Intourist agent says, “Russia has never attacked another country.”
And I say, “But sir, in 1939 Russia attacked Finland.”
“Oh no,” says the agent, “Russia did not attack Finland. Finland attacked the United States—Finland attacked Russia.”
I said, “My soul, you’re kidding, you’re not serious.”
“I’m telling you the truth. Finland attacked Russia.”
Why, I’d just been in Finland. The country is about that big, has one town in it, and it’s small, Helsinki. “Finland attacked you?”
“Yes, Finland attacked Russia.”
I asked the official Intourist agent another one. “Why did you build a wall through Berlin?” Answer: “We built the wall through Berlin because so many thousands of West Berliners were pouring into East Berlin that we had to build the wall to stop the flood of humanity.”
I said, “You are kidding me? You’re not serious. You’re joking.”
“No,” says the official Intourist agent, “that wall was built to stop the flood of humanity pouring into East Germany through Berlin.”
“Why,” I said, “there’s not a syllable of truth in that.”
And the Intourist agent says, “All you read in the Western world are imperialist lies. But I’m telling you the truth. We publish the truth in Russia.” And the name of their official communist newspaper is Pravda, “Truth.”
When I look around and see the poverty of the people, I just happen to make remark, “Did you know in America, practically every family has at least one car?”
“We don’t believe that. That’s a lie!. That’s a lie! And the reason for the wealth of America is because they exploit the poor oppressed people in Latin America.”
I say, “In America, we have a democratic government and everybody can have a voice in it.”
And they reply, “That’s a lie. That’s a lie. That isn’t the truth. America is run by a few capitalistic magnates.”
“Why,” I said, “that’s impossible. How could they do it?”
And the official agent replies, “They do it through the buying of votes.”
Oh, they have been so brainwashed. The things they read are so distorted that they have no conception of an idea of what any other land could be like and least of all the glorious land of America. But the land of the Bolshevik liberation, the land of Marx and Lenin, what is it like? It is drab, and dreary, and filled with scarcity, and want, and poverty, and despair.
I did not realize the itinerary was so placed, but I am happy that it was for I entered in and out, and in and out of the Soviet world several times. We entered into the Soviet world out of Helsinki. Then out of the Soviet world into the free world of Vienna in Austria. Then back into the Soviet world in Czechoslovakia in Prague then into the Soviet world in East Germany. Then out of East Germany into free West Berlin. Then out of free West Berlin into slave East Berlin. Then out of slave East Berlin back into the free world, in and out several times.
And every time I was sensitive to that same indescribable horizon to horizon difference. The slave world is one of drabness, and of despair, and of darkness, and of dreariness, and of poverty, and of scarcity. The official Intourist agent in Prague said, “In our economy and under our glorious form of government, there are no poor.” And I ran into that again, and again, and again. “There are no poor.” And every time I said, “The reason is they are all poor! They’re all poor, every one of them. They’re all poor.”
On a bus in Prague, I had a few very small and worthless coins. I had no idea what they were so I pulled out one of them and gave it to the woman who was the street car collector and she shook her head. I added another one; shook her head. I added another one; shook her head. I added a piece of paper, their paper money; shook her head. I added another worthless coin, and she smiled, and gave me some infinitesimal coins in return. By me was a big heavy looking washer woman. And I took those worthless coins and I put them in her hand. You would have thought that I had bestowed upon her an inheritance. She beamed, and smiled, and thanked me in Czech, and I had no idea what she was saying. Then finally she said, “Danke schoen, danke schoen. Sprechen zie Deutsche?” I said, “Nein”, but I knew what “danke schoen” was. Rejoicing as though the millennium had come, over one third of one cent, that’s the whole world of the communist regime. And it’s impossible to me to grasp. I don’t see it. And I can’t understand it.
We flew from one side of Russia to the other, the clear length from the Baltic down to the Black Sea. And then back again east and then all through to the west. And when you fly over Russia, it looks as though you were flying over Iowa, and Wisconsin, and Illinois. That undulating land is some of the richest in this earth and some of the most fruitfully prolific. Yet they are hungry, and they have to go to Canada, and they have to go to the United States to buy food for their people. If an American farmer were in Russia, they’d have such surpluses that they couldn’t build granaries big enough to hold them all. But under that system, everything that the collective farm raises is produced, and the government takes every grain of it, and gives back to those farmers enough for a bare and a miserable existence. There’s nobody on those collective farms but a handful of old people. The young people have fled—poverty and need.
Leningrad is a city as big as Chicago and marvelously laid out. Those great boulevards so wide and so impressive; you can walk down any boulevard with your eyes closed with no fear of being hit by a car whatsoever. I asked again and again in any city in Czechoslovakia, in Russia, “I’d like to see a filling station, a filling station. I believe I’ve come to where I’d rather see a filling station than a museum. Does anybody know where a filling station is?” And I had no reason to see it like somebody might think, except I just wanted to know if one existed; that’s all.
I asked Jack Meredith, the nephew of Joy Tankel, I said, “You driving this American car around here,” He’s the military attaché to the American Embassy in Moscow. I said, “I want you to show me a filling station, one.” Well, he said, “I don’t know whether I can or not.” I said, “You get gas for this. Where do you get it?” He said, “It’s very difficult.” And he couldn’t show me. In the whole earth, not one filling station could I find. And I said to Jack Meredith, “There are a few cars here, where’d they come from?” He said, “You can count on it. They’re all official in some way or another. The private people do not have automobiles.”
And where they live, there are literally millions of people who are waiting for some place to live. Here is a typical family. They are four in that family. They live in a room six by nine feet, and they share the bathroom with six other families. In the Europa Hotel in Leningrad, on my floor was a big display propaganda room; Lenin’s picture, all of the other things that go with it; and those glorious slogans of the Soviet government and what they’re going to do. And in 1970, they’re going to have a flat they call it, an apartment for every family. And when 1970 comes, there’ll be more people without homes and places to live than there are now; for it can’t produce. Why produce? When the government, when the government seizes and takes from the people all of the fruit of their energy.
I talked to an American doctor in Kharkov. He said, “I make a hundred seventy-seven dollars a month.” So in Kiev I spoke of that to the official Intourist agent. “The doctor in Kharkov said he made a hundred and seventy-seven dollars a month, affluent.” And she said, “I don’t believe it’s true. The wage of a doctor is a hundred thirty dollars a month. And if he makes a hundred seventy-seven, he’s doing something on the side.” Wonder what she was referring to.
Poverty, want and need; and wherever you go, there is the queue. There is the queue, lined up for everything you can imagine. Melons, little muskmelons that look like kind of halfway honeydews were just coming in. And I had a hard time being happy about the situation in the gastronomical appurtenances of these places so I’d go out to buy a little muskmelon. Wherever I went in any town, city, or place, I stood in a long queue in order to get up there to buy a little muskmelon that big a round.
When you buy a bar of chocolate candy, it costs me two dollars twenty-three cents; one bar of chocolate candy, two dollars twenty-three cents. A white shirt as I have on costs twenty-two dollars fifty cents, of inferior quality. Shoes cost forty-three dollars. It is a land of want and scarcity. And the government keeps it that way. In Odessa, an interesting city, the great seaport of the Ukraine, in Odessa at ten thirty at night when I walked out of the restaurant, two militia men were there guarding the door. Why guard the door of the restaurant?––because of the crowd out there wanting to get in to eat.
In an American economy, there come along a restaurateur and he’d go across the street and he’d build another restaurant. And if that weren’t enough, he’d go across the street and build another restaurant. And if that wasn’t enough, he could have a whole row of restaurants to feed the people. But in the Soviet economy, instead of building more restaurants to feed more people, they just hire more officers and more policemen to stand at the door to keep them out. You can’t conceive of such a situation. And the whole economy is just like that.
What kind of a land is the land of communist liberation? This glorious worker’s paradise, this land of the achievement of the ideology of Karl Marx and the implementation of the glorious revolution led by Nikolai Lenin; what kind of a land is it? It is a land, it is a land of the destruction and the suppression of basic human freedoms: one, economic; two, political; and three and foremost, spiritual and religious.
One, economic; Prague is a beautiful city, one of the most interesting cities in the world, and one of the oldest; a city of a thousand golden spires. Walk up and down the streets of that great city, and everything you see in it is owned and run by the state. Every little place where you buy a newspaper, every little place where you would buy an ice cream cone, every thing that lives and exists is owned and run by a bureaucracy and a government. Fly over that vast and beautiful rolling land and everything you see below is owned by the government. No man can own a little piece of ground. “This is mine.” No man can say, “This belongs to me. The toil of my hands has won this.” It’s owned by the government. And by governmental decree, men live and die, they are born, they suffer. Their whole lives are bound up in the state.
Political oppression, denial; the Intourist agent says to me, “We have universal sufferance. We have pure democracy. We have a secret ballot. Anybody coming to the polls can mark out any candidate that he doesn’t like.” By that time I had quit arguing. I quit saying anything. No need to say it. They haven’t the ableness to see that this is not freedom. Just to mark out a Communist candidate for you have no other choice. There’s no other candidate to choose from just that Communist candidate. And you can mark him out. To what end, to what purpose?
But the great denial is the basic one and the all inclusive one: the denial of spiritual and soul freedom, the denial of religious liberty. In the presence of a group of our Baptist laymen, godly men, I said, “You know I don’t understand. You say to me, ‘All of these churches are closed by government decree, not because they’re not patronized by the people.’ By government decree, the churches are made into railroad stations, and museums, and instruments of atheism, and warehouses, and grain storage. Or else they’re falling into decay.”
And I said, “And yet you have a Baptist church in Leningrad. You have one in Moscow, Odessa, Kiev, Kharkov, and there are five thousand five hundred in Russia in the little places; one church to a place.” I said, “Why don’t they close them all? Why just one?” And the Latvian said who had borne the awful brunt of religious persecution, he said to me, he said, “Pastor, I’ll answer that question.” He said, “The Soviet Union boasts of religious liberty and religious freedom. And if the Soviet Union closed all the churches it would be a manifest and patent lie! So,” he says, “we have one church open in Leningrad,” a city as big as Chicago; “we have one church open in Moscow,” a city almost as big as New York, “so that if people come and they say, ‘We hear that there’s no religious liberty in the Soviet Union,’ why, the Soviet official says, ‘You hear that? Why, that’s an imperialistic falsehood. Come with me,’ and he shows you the Baptist church open in Leningrad, and the Baptist church open in Moscow.” Who remembers Fred Lang? Oh, what a lie, what a lie!
And the denial of the very right to exist––one of those communist leaders placed in my hands a book on atheism, deriding the Bible. And when I looked at it and had a translator to go through it and tell me what it said, I turned to the agent and I replied, “In our country, we could write a book answering this vile and blasphemous volume.”
He said, “But in our country you cannot. For,” he said, “in our country, religious views are wrong. And it is not possible to publish in our country wrong, untruthful views. That is freedom of speech, and freedom of press.” And the denial of religious liberty reached down into the very home life of the people, for the children are taken away and taught atheism. And they can be taught nothing else.
While I was there an announcement came out in Pravda, that such and such Jewish people had the liberty now for their young people to go to the synagogue to pray. But by that time, one of the Jews said to me, “By that time our young people don’t want to pray. They have been indoctrinated and taught in atheism from the days of their birth, and now they have forgotten the language of heaven, and they forgot the language of the Book, and they forgot the name of God, and they don’t want to pray.”
You can’t have a revival meeting. You can’t have a Sunday school. You can’t have a school. You can’t have a seminary. You can’t invite anyone to church, and the people cry in their souls, mostly old, mostly old. A Jewish couple who is now atheist, said to me, “Our grandmothers and our grandfathers went to the synagogue. But when they die, our synagogue will be turned into a museum.”
I said, “Don’t you care?”
They said, “No, it is nothing to us, nothing to us.” The God of our fathers, forgot, forgot. No literature allowed to be printed, no Bibles allowed.
In Odessa, after a long and tedious service, they are more than three hours long, as you know, I was tired and I sat down in a chair by the aisle. And while I was seated there, one of those young men came and knelt down by my side, put both of his hands on my left arm in friendship and love, then on the right knee he described the outline of a Bible. Then pantomime, he turned the pages of the Book. And then with his hand outstretched said to me, and he didn’t think I understood his word, he said, “Biblia, Biblia, Biblia,” got a Bible? “Got a Bible? Got a Bible?” In Leningrad, the car could not move because of the press of those Baptist people around it. At that time we had a Bible or two that we’d given out. And we had little St. John’s Gospels and those people reaching forward their hands, wherever they could be seen, “Biblia? Biblia? Biblia? Biblia?” a famine for the Word of God!
In Kiev, a fine, handsome-looking, young Russian Baptist preacher walked with us to the street railway car that we were catching back to the Dnipro Hotel. And even though it was the first of September, it was cold and he had on a heavy coat. And underneath his heavy coat, hidden away, he had a Bible. And in pantomime, the best that he could describe, he carefully showed us where he carries his Bible. And then, pantomiming it, “If they knew outside I had a Bible,” then he’d do that with his throat. Or then he’d make a sign of disappearing with his hands just for the Word of God. Oh, when you turn your face homeward, it’s like turning your face God-ward, heaven-ward, Christ-ward, church-ward!
I saw Mr. Geda, Friday, Dallas Laundry and Tailor and Laundry Supply Company. He came to America, sixty-one years ago, when he was a youth. And he was describing to me the persecution that he felt in Russia as a young Jew––every one of their passports the first, the first page in it, “Jew” and nothing but sorrow and persecution. And I’m going to speak about our Baptist people, and the pain, and grief they know tonight. And Mr. Geda said to me, “For sixty-one years, every night and every morning I bless the name of God for America, for America; it’s open door to rear our children, to teach them the Word of God, to go to church, to name the name of Jesus.” My soul, my fellow countryman, and my fellow Christians, bow down, and kiss the ground on which you live, and on which you walk. Hats off, hats off.
Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums,
A flash of color beneath the sky:
Hats off! Our flag is passing by!
Sign of a nation, great and strong
To ward her people from foreign wrong:
Glory and honor, courage, —all
Stand in the colors to live or fall.
Hats off! Along the street there comes
A blare of bugles, a ruffle of drums;
And loyal hearts are beating high:
Hats off! The flag is passing by!
[from “The Flag Goes By,” Henry Holcomb Bennett]
O say, can you see? By the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air
Gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there
O say, does that star spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free, and the home of the brave
[“O Say Can You See?”; Francis Scott Key]
God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her, and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home
God bless America, my home sweet home
[“God Bless America”; Irving Berlin]
It is 12:00 o’clock and again may I thank in deepest appreciation our brethren who bought this extra time and allowed me to say one other thing. “O, our God,” cried the king, “O our God, we have no might against this great company that cometh out against us; neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon Thee, but our eyes are upon Thee” [2 Chronicles 20:12].
May I speak briefly? One, something for our hands to do; secondly, something for our hearts to believe. First, something for our hands to do. In the forty-five or more minute interview that we had with the American ambassador in Moscow, we asked him about those evangelical Baptists that came out of Siberia, and sought haven, and refuge, and asylum in our embassy in Moscow. And as you know, they were delivered back to the Soviet government. And we said to him, “The American people didn’t do that with Cardinal Mindszenty in Hungary and Budapest.”
“Well,” he said, “I cannot enter into that. It was in the days of war, and they were saving the life of a man, and I am grateful.”
“But,” we said, “Why didn’t you do something for our evangelical Baptists that had made their way across the vast continent out of Siberia and here into the American embassy?” And the man seemed to be moved. He said, “You see our embassy here and the little courtyard which is all we have,” he said, “They were the most miserable, pitiful, and wretched people I ever looked upon. They numbered about thirty-five with their families and their children here in our courtyard.” He said, “We did everything humanly possible to be done, what would you have done? What would you have done?” He said, “We are guests of the Russian government. We do not own this place. And,” he said, “if we could have granted asylum to those thirty-four wretches,” he said, “there would be millions and millions who would be coming seeking asylum and refuge in the American embassy.”
He said with sorrow of heart, that “All we could do was to turn them back to the Russian government, and elicit from them a promise that they would not be harmed and persecuted but they’d be returned to their homes in Siberia.” I said, “Do you know whether they kept the promise or not?” He said, “We cannot find out. We have no idea what became of them and there’s no way that we can learn.” I can imagine what became of them. I can easily imagine.
And in his helplessness when he described how little they could do in the embassy in Moscow, I said, “Mr. Ambassador, would you have any word, as I go home. Is there anything we can do in America?” And he replied, “Yes there is. Yes, there is.” He said, “The greatest thing we have to do is to keep America Christian.” He said, “Our basic strength is always spiritual. And only in that basic spiritual strength do we have power to confront the Soviet people and the peoples of the world.” And he says, “If we lose that battle there, we lose it everywhere.” What can our hands do? We, we can pour our souls, and our hearts, and our lives into this devotion and commitment to the principles that have made our nation what it is: God in Christ in His church, with its glorious message. Oh, why don’t we do it?
On a Moscow subway, hanging by one of those straps in a crowded car, right in front of me sat a Russian mother and by her side a little freckled-face boy. He could not have been more than six or seven years of age. But while I was hanging to that strap, riding that car, all the time I was there, that mother had Pravda, the Communist paper, Pravda open and reading it to that little boy. And he wasn’t but six or seven years of age. From the time he’s born into all the formative years of life he hears not a thing but the lie and the falsehood of the communist line.
And as I clung to that strap and watched that mother reading Pravda to that little freckled-face boy, I thought in my soul, “How many mothers in America are reading the Bible to that little boy? How many mothers in America are reading the great pronouncements of religion, liberty, and political freedom to their children?” I thought in my soul, “And how many mothers in America are instilling in those children, those principles of love, and peace, and godliness, and Christliness that made our nation what it is?” It’s something to do, something to do, something to believe, something in our souls and in our hearts.
I sat down one afternoon in a chair in the Intourist headquarters in the Ukraine Hotel in Moscow. I don’t think I was ever lower or bluer in my life. A sense of overwhelming despair had overtaken me. In those socialist countries, in Scandinavia, our churches are empty, and our guides were atheists, socialism; and in Russia, every syllable, every cartoon, every word one of vile and blasphemous defamation. And in the Ukraine Hotel, ambassadors, plenipotentiaries, governmental leaders from the ends of the earth; they were there from Africa, there from Asia, there from Latin America. A seething sea of governmental diplomats there in the Soviet Union to be taught how to deliver their governments and their people into the Soviet tyrannical slave hands of despair and defeat.
And I was sitting in that chair and it seemed to me that the world had come to an end. There’s not any hope, and there’s not any way, and there’s not any future; just to die and that’s all. And while I was seated there, in despair I began to think about that tomb, that dead man whose face I had just seen. Lenin’s tomb, the mausoleum before the Kremlin wall––look at that dead man’s face. I got to thinking about Nikolai Lenin, that dead man’s face, that dead man. I began thinking about him there in that glass casket, dead, dead. And I began to think about the philosophy of communism, death, death, death, nothing but death.
And then my heart went back to a thing I had experienced in Oslo, where I first had met such a rebuff to my spirit and soul. Riding with a godly Baptist layman around the harbor, it’s one of the most beautiful in the world. Across the harbor, the blue, beautiful cold waters, the summer palace of the king, and I said to this godly layman, “You see that’s the summer palace of the king.” I said, “Don’t you find that so much baggage, so much weight and burden to have a king?”
“Oh,” he said, “no, you don’t understand, no.” He said, “Our king is the embodiment and the personification of the hope for our country. Why,” he said, “in the days of the Nazi occupation, for five long years, five years, we lived under the rape and the violence of those German soldiers, five years. And,” he said, “when we became almost to despair,” he said, “there came a little plane over Oslo from out of the blue and it showered down leaflets on our city. And I picked up one of them.” He said, “It was a little record, a little record.” He said, “I went home, I closed the windows, I pulled down the shades. I put it on. And,” he said, “The record was the voice of my king, Haakon.” And he said, “My king said, ‘Be of good courage, be of good cheer. I shall come back, victory belongs to us. The righteous cause of heaven is with us. Don’t be discouraged. I’ll be back and I’ll see you someday.”
And he said, “I played that record again, and again, and again.” By that time the car had come around to the head of the harbor, and he said, “That place there, that place there,” he said, “one glorious and triumphant day,” he said, “my King Haakon, put his foot down on that place at the head of this harbor. He’d come back.” The layman said, “We were there by the thousands,” he said, “we were there by the hundreds of thousands.” And he said, “We wept, and we cried, and we rejoiced, and we hugged one another, and we kissed one another, and we cried, ‘The king has come home, the king is back, King Haakon has returned, rejoice, rejoice, rejoice.’”
And as I sat in that chair, I thought of a letter that we have from Him in heaven, “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer…thou shalt have tribulation ten days; be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life” [Revelation 2:10]. “He which testifieth these things saith, Behold I come quickly” [Revelation 22:20]. And some glorious day, some triumphant day, out of the blue of the sky, when the heavens shall be rolled back like a scroll, shall our King descend in triumph, in glory, in victory [Matthew 24:30, Revelation 6:14, 19:11]. And His feet shall stand upon that place, and we shall gather around Him by the thousands, and the tens of thousands, and the hundreds of thousands. And we shall rejoice, and clap our hands, and weep for gladness, and hug one another, and kiss one another, and say, “Our King has come back, our Lord has returned. O, glory to His marvelous and matchless name.” “Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus” [Revelation 22:20]. So the victory belongs to God, and the triumph lies in His gracious hands [1 Corinthians 15:57], and His people are to be faithful unto death [Revelation 2:10].
And while we sing this song of appeal, 125, while we sing this song of appeal, a 125; somebody you, putting your life in the hands of Jesus [Romans 10:8-13]; a couple you, coming into the fellowship of the church [Hebrews 10:24-25]; a family, “Pastor, my wife, my children, all of us are coming today.” Or, on, somebody you; out of the balcony, there’s a stairway at the front and the back on either side, into the aisle and down to the front. “Here I come, pastor, here I am.” Make it this morning, make it now. Come, come. Decide now and when you stand up, stand up coming. Do it. Do it, while we stand and while we sing.
AMERICA AND RUSSIAN COMMUNISM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
I. However different, the socialist countries all agree on one thing; seething hatred of America and the American way of life
II. Communist Russia calls itself a worker’s paradise
1. A land of false, misstated propaganda
2. It is a drab, dreary land of lack, poverty and inefficiency
3. A land of denial of political and religious freedom
4. In contrast there is blessing, abundance and freedom in America
I. What our hands can do
II. What is in our hearts