Russian President Vladimir Putin has said that “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” was the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Now, in 2022, Putin is moving hard to “reclaim,” as he would see it, an important part of Russia – neighboring Ukraine.
Thus, the fallout from the Communist atheists’ disastrous takeover of Russia in 1917 continues to this day. In many ways, Putin is following in Lenin’s and Stalin’s footsteps.
How this story will end, no one knows. But there is an angle that ought to be considered. There are millions of devout Christians in Ukraine, and they are fiercely committed to their independence.
Music Mission Kiev
One of the great untold stories about Ukraine involves Roger and Diane McMurrin, who ministered in South Florida for years. Roger McMurrin was the music director of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in the 1970s and 1980s.
Though retired now, Roger and Diane pioneered a work in Ukraine that continues to this day. It is called Music Mission Kiev, which they founded officially in 1994.
In the early 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when religious freedom was allowed in Russia and Ukraine, Roger and Diane got to visit there and even came up with the idea to re-introduce sacred music to be performed by professional Ukrainian musicians – many of whom were out of work.
The first piece Roger worked to have them perform was Handel’s Messiah, which had not been heard in at least 70 years there. It was a major success.
Eventually, Roger and his wife Diane felt called to minister in Kiev through the avenue of classical music. Diane McMurrin wrote up the whole story in her 1998 book, The Splendor of His Music.
Thus was born, Music Mission Kiev, the home of the Kiev (actually, Kyiv) Symphony Orchestra.
Their website (musicmissionkiev.org) notes their organization “began performing sacred masterpieces of classical music in 1993…[pieces, which] were banned under Communist rule.” Roger told me that included works such as Hayden’s Creation, Bach’s St. John’s Passion and St. Matthew’s Passion, Brahm’s Requiem,Beethoven’s “Hallelujah” from Christ on the Mount of Olives.
When Roger and team first started in the early 1990s, everybody they hired, including the musicians, were atheists and agnostics.
Roger told me the Ukrainian people they encountered in general were atheists, and their lives were desperate and depressed. Men died at the average age of 56 (largely through alcohol and tobacco use), and the average lifespan for the women was 75.
Although their ministry was focused on classical music, very soon after starting, they began weekly feeding of widows and orphans.
Roger and his group were able to premier a great many classical works – even those by famous Russian composers – and have these performed for the first time since the Bolsheviks started taking over Russia beginning in 1917. Such as Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture.
Meanwhile, through the work of various Christian ministries throughout Ukraine, including Music Mission Kiev, Roger said that today there are millions of Christians.
A resilient people
And now comes Putin’s invasion. Roger McMurrin added that the history of Ukraine is filled with foreign invasions. Through the centuries, they were ruled by the Mongols, the Tatars, the Ottomans, the Swedes, and, of course, Russia beginning around 1919 (with an interval during World War 2 under Nazi Rule), until the Soviet Union imploded in 1991.
He said that the Ukrainians are brave. They love their country and they will fight to the end.
Perhaps Putin has bitten off more than he can chew in this invasion. The Ukrainian people will fight to the end. Pray for them in this hour of crisis.
Jerry Newcombe, D.Min., is the executive director of the Providence Forum, an outreach of D. James Kennedy Ministries, where Jerry also serves as senior producer and an on-air host. He has written/co-written 33 books. www.djkm.org @newcombejerry www.jerrynewcombe.com
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