When Mikhail Morgulis of Project Christian Bridge arranged an invitation for CT Editor at Large Philip Yancey and 18 other evangelical leaders to visit the Soviet Union, they were told they were to be guests of the government—and indeed they were. Everywhere they went, they showed a card that said, “Guest of the President,” and they got imperial treatment. At the Kremlin Museum, for example, officials immediately closed the facility to the public (even though there were long lines outside) and let a dozen Christian Bridge visitors view the treasures at their leisure.
Their hotel (until recently owned by the Communist party) was also top drawer. There was a concierge on every floor. And guerrillas from the hotel laundry would snatch carelessly dropped clothes and return them washed and folded.
Unfortunately, there soon developed a snag in the government courtesy. The hotel wanted to be paid in hard currency; and the Soviet government did not have hard currency. A shouting match, lasting until 2 A.M., ensued between the hotel manager and a top government minister. “We own you!” the government man claimed. “Prove it,” the manager replied. And that was a problem, for in a country that for over 70 years has had no private property, there are no property deeds. And in such a rapidly disintegrating state, no one wanted to be left holding a bag of roubles.
In the end, the “Guests of the President” passed the hat among themselves and parted with $7,000 in hard currency so the hotel would accept the balance of their bill in the government’s roubles.
The big story of that trip was, however, spiritual, not economic. Philip’s fascinating account begins on page 16.
DAVID NEFF, Managing Editor
Cover photos: Philip Yancey and Christian Bridge.
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