THE DEATH OF A GREAT LADY
Lyudmila Alexeyeva died Dec. 08, 2018 in a Russian hospital, age 91.
"Ms Alexeyeva became a fierce human rights advocate in 1950s Soviet Union, went into exile and returned to continue her work in modern Russia.
In 1968 she was expelled from the Communist Party and fired from her job because of her activism.
She co-founded the human rights organisation Moscow Helsinki Group in 1976, and within a year its members were arrested, jailed or forced into exile.
She emigrated to the US in 1977, where she continued her fight for human rights, until her return in 1993, after the dissolution of the Soviet Union."
The Helsinki Group was an outgrowth of an international effort to forge the Helsinki Accord in 1975. Their intent was to monitor compliance within Russia of the human rights statements included in the accord.
Alexeyeva often received death threats. Still, neither she nor her colleagues would give up their human rights cause.
Do we appreciate the risks taken by people in repressive environments to stand up for what is merely fair… for the most basic human rights?
THE BIRTHDAY OF A GREAT MAN
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn comes to mind again. He died in 2008. Today marks the 100th anniversary of his birth. He was unliked by many in the US during his forced exile from the Soviet Union. Yes, he seemed an irascible character… caustic, sarcastic. But the negative reactions may have stemmed more from the truth in his bluntness.
How difficult it is, when living in prosperity, to be resolute and make sacrifices!”
“[He] lectured me that I presumed to judge the experience of the world from the viewpoint of my own limited Soviet and prison-camp experience”…
The 30 articles of this historic document are majestic, all-inclusive, idealistic… and ever more distant from reality.
But before sniffing at its air of naiveté, we who are Jesus followers should remember: God embraces humanity without subsets. Without the spiritual transformation that comes through the Son, Jesus Christ, we will remain hopelessly tribal, fearful, divisive, cruel… bristling with nuclear warheads pointed at each other.
We should also remember that, however distant the goal, we yearn and strive for it. It is our calling: to share the news of a loving Savior. He receives all who embrace what he did for us through his crucifixion and resurrection.
"Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all." Colossians 3:11
“Scythian” is not a word that evokes a visceral response today. Back then, it was like saying “the scum of the earth.” So, who do we fear, despise, look down on the most? Even those whom we view as the scum of the earth are offered everything we have been offered in Jesus Christ… including a seat at the table in our home and church fellowship.
HUMANITY & HUMAN RIGHTS…
Racism, despotism, social injustice, and economic inequality get my attention. We should be about more than our corporations’ bottom lines and the cheapest labor possible to protect them. Human rights in the countries we use to produce our trinkets and techie toys should be a front burner issue. Today, it’s not even on the back burner… not even on the stove.
But, as Carol might say, these are not hills to die on.
Jesus is the only hope for humanity. His mission preempts all others. We are here to blur the lines that divide humans into subsets. We are to be living examples of God’s fairness, love and acceptance. He paid the highest price possible to rescue us. He paid no less for the souls of those we fear or despise.
I am humbled and stirred by people like Alexeyeva and Solzhenitsyn. As Jesus followers, what is our personal stake in the battle? Shall we not risk as much—or more—for the eternal betterment of humanity?
Hey, I just thought of a great suggestion for your church sign next weekend (you can thank me later):
Yes...! As of July 5, 2020, my book is now available on Amazon.com.
It's a new book about an old problem: the cross and the crown… the Gospel and politics… do they mix? Should they mix?
If my words generate some reflection and healthy conversation—as in more light and less heat—I will be satisfied.
For feedback or questions, feel free to use the email link below.
Greg grew up in Menomonee Falls, WI. His ministry began in 1976: 5 years in Central America, 37 in Mexico. Church planting and discipleship have been his passion.
"The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field." -Matthew 13:44
GREG'S other BLOG
Concise devotions in Spanish and English, along with some lengthier essays… Designed for personal spiritual growth and to help anyone studying English or Spanish as a second language to improve their skills… Rev 14:6