Last in a series examining how Western Christians are helping reshape society in the former Soviet Union.

The social, political, and religious land-scape of the formar Soviet Union looks radically different today from what it most observers believe it will look radically different five years from now.

“The present degree of freedom we have in eastern Europe will not be there very long, because it is more due to anarchy than to design,” says theologian Peter Kuzmic, whose home country of Yugoslavia has been torn by ethnic and nationalistic fighting.

According to Kent Hill, executive director of the Institute on Religion and Democracy, who is now living and teaching in Moscow, communist ideology in the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) is dead, but the stage may be set for some form of authoritarianism, which he noted is “deeply ingrained in the Russian political and historical situation.”

Kuzmic and Hill were among those who attended a recent gathering in Chicago of leaders of ministries active in the CIS. The consultation was sponsored by the National Association of Evangelicals and the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies.

Too Much Of A Good Thing?

Activity among Western Christians in the CIS has been widely documented. By and large, church and parachurch organizations have made substantial efforts to get in on the ground floor of these countries-in-the-making. But those who have observed the activity closely say it has had negative, as well as positive, effects. And some worry that Western organizations have learned little in nearly two years of work in the once-closed republics.

“Americans have a great love for Russia,” observes Russian native Peter Sautov, director of the Moscow-based Center for Evangelism. But ...

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