War in the Persian Gulf and a failed coup in the Soviet Union dominated world headlines in 1991. Both events altered the terrain for Christian ministry in those regions.

The year began with the world anxiously watching the U.S. and its allies assemble more than a half-million troops in Saudi Arabia, ready to drive Iraqi forces from Kuwait. The night after President Bush issued the order to begin the attack, his White House guest was Billy Graham. Prior to issuing the order to attack, Bush sought counsel from religious leaders, including Senate Chaplain Richard Halverson and Edmond Browning, presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church.

Operation Desert Storm enjoyed broad support among the American people, overwhelming the voice of protest from ardent pacifists and some mainline church leaders. While the National Association of Evangelicals took no official position on the war, Robert Dugan, director of the NAE Office of Public Affairs, stated publicly that he supported the use of force in the region, arguing that Desert Storm met the criteria for a just war. Religious broadcaster Pat Robertson was among the many who viewed the war as a possible sign of the end times. Indeed, the war created a bull market for apocalyptic books.

Democratic reforms in the USSR received a boost from an unlikely source—hardline Communists—when their failed efforts to replace Mikhail Gorbachev merely energized those intent on restructuring Soviet society. The events of late summer solidified religious freedom, holding open the door to scores of Western ministries. At the same time, however, Mormons, Hare Krishnas, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and other non-Christian religions also rushed in to fill the spiritual vacuum left by decades of communism. ...

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