This week a friend and I were talking at Starbucks about our ministry in Russia and the history of Evangelical Christians in Russia and Ukraine. In the middle of our conversation, the lady next to us turns around and says that she is from Ukraine and overheard our conversation. We soon begin to understand that her hope for salvation is in her nation. Click on the video to hear about our conversation and the conviction of God on her heart:
Where is Our Hope?
I ask if she believes in God, she says that her grandmother did, but she can’t. Religion is a crutch for the weak. It’s ok for people to go to church, because they learn morals, but God can’t exist because of all the suffering in the world. “After Chernobyl, I can’t believe in God.” In her opinion, the disaster at Chernobyl was not an accident, but an intentional attack meant to kill people and lead to the destruction of the Ukrainian people and the Soviet Union. Why would God allow that? The only hope is for the people and politicians of Ukraine to bring greatness to the nation.
My friend and I told her that our hope is not in democracy and it is not in America. Our hope is in the living God who redeemed us in Jesus Christ – who suffered for us while we were still enemies. That the human heart is evil, not just some people, but all people. “I can’t believe, I can’t believe.” She stood up and prepared to leave. Visibly shaken, she kept repeating “I feel so guilty, I feel so guilty. I see my grandmother standing in front of me, scolding me, ‘Olga, how dare you!’”
Believe in Your Heart and Confess with Your Mouth
Olga confided that she doesn’t usually tell people she doesn’t believe. She doesn’t know why she shared that with us, “I thought you were students of history, I didn’t know you were so religious! I believe in my heart that there’s no God, but I don’t usually say it. I feel so guilty.”
We told her we’d be praying for her and her son and invited her to the Russian language church where I am a member if she wanted to talk more about God.
Paul writes that we should believe in our heart and confess with our mouth (Romans 10:8-13). Interesting that she believes in her heart that there is no God, but she is shaken to the core when she confesses with her mouth. Please pray along with us that the conviction she feels will bring fruit.
2 thoughts on “After Chernobyl, I Can’t Believe In God”
She may sound ignorant, but after the Holodomor, a third of the population of Western Ukraine being sent to Siberia, and everything else the Soviets did to Ukraine, her conspiracy theory about Chernobyl is understandable.
Suffering is the biggest objection to God. But without God, suffering makes even less sense. Then it’s just a pointless feature of nature that cannot be objected to. Besides, atheists increase human suffering rather than decrease it. It took Muslims 15 centuries to kill 200 million people, but it took the Communists all of a couple decades to accomplish the same feat.
The people of Ukraine will bring greatness to their nation, but not through politics or ideology or through some messianic leader. It will happen through faith in God expressed in action, which is in ample display at the Euromaidan and the only reason they keep going besides love for their people. All major Christian denominations are providing regular music, prayer, preaching and calls to repentance from the main stage. I know the Ukrainian Baptists have a tent on the square and are reaching out to the people, both in the crowds and from the stage. The spiritual openness is incredible.
The key thing to understand is that salvation is not just for “going to Heaven”. It’s also for the here and now. And it doesn’t just affect ourselves personally, but our community and our nation as well. This woman clearly cared for and grieved for her nation. You should have pointed out to her that national revival also clearly depends on faith in God. And there are plenty of historical examples of that. Nations swept by repentance and the resulting reformation become great nations. A people changed by God cannot ignore Christian anthropology, the simple fact that human beings are created in the image and likeness of God and as a result have inherent rights and dignity as human beings, and cannot be treated like cattle. The US Declaration of Independence asserted this directly as the philosophical basis of the Revolution.
Slava Bogu, a seed is planted! God bless you. Will be praying for your ministry.