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COMMUNITY VOICE

Fall of Iron Curtain effected immense historic changes in Eastern Europe

Thursday, February 6, 2014 - 8:59 am

Ten years before 9/11 the world witnessed a historic event of a different kind when the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union fell.

Unlike 9/11, the fall of the oppressive Communist regime involved very little loss of life as millions of people filled the streets of Moscow, Warsaw, Berlin, Bucharest and other major cities in Eastern Europe. Within days of the uprisings, once-invincible tyrants either fled for their lives or met their doom. Young Germans in Berlin beat down the Berlin Wall with sledge hammers and crowbars, etching iconic images of freedom forever in the memories of anyone over 30.

While Bill Clinton did his bravado on the world stage and the U.S. economy boomed, the 15 former Soviet republics like Russia, Ukraine and Kazakhstan assessed the extent of the damage of a collapsed society. Millions of their citizens watched their savings evaporate as the Russian ruble devalued at hundreds of times. Bank accounts that were once equal to $50,000 dropped to $50.

The former Soviet people also faced a moral and spiritual vacuum. While some of the old faithful shuffled downtown to the decaying statues of Lenin to place a wreath of flowers on May Day, most people scratched their heads and asked, “If Communism was wrong, then is there perhaps a God?” Public school officials across the former empire urged their teachers to actually use the Bible to teach morals and ethics in their classrooms, citing a widespread loss of any moral compass.

For those interested in getting a gripping and insightful look into the immense changes that happened when the Iron Curtain fell, I would recommend a new book entitled “Fields of Gold: Planting a Church Among Central Asians” by James Wright, who lived in the former Soviet Union (available online at Amazon.com).

The story takes place along the Silk Road in Central Asia where changes took place rapidly in the public and personal lives of people living in that diverse and exotic society.

An important part of the story is the way friction developed when some elements in society wanted to shut down religious and personal freedom. As the problem of religious persecution increases across the world, this story helps explain some of the causes and reasons behind it as well as offers some positive ways of responding.

“Fields of Gold” also has some light-hearted moments and will appeal to readers of all ages who appreciate a true story of struggle, hope, faith and redemption.

Ron Coody, who considers Waynedale his home, lives and works in Istanbul.