The Communist rebels took over Russia in 1918, deposed a cruel and selfish Czar and then went on to amalgamate the Soviet Union of Eastern Bloc states with other communist nations at the ready to consume the USA . Had it not been for the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe they might have subsumed that as well.
There were many Christians then as now praying for the release of these nations and their trapped peoples from the mandatory atheism and materialism which is the foundational doctrine of socialist-communist political systems. For 70 long years it appeared those prayers would not be answered. Then finally as the poverty and bankruptcy of communism demolished Russia from within they started on the path of westernization. But what kind of government would replace this system? Would they simply replace one failure with another?
God would answer that generation of prayers with one man, a hard drinking street fighter of a leader in Boris Yeltsin and the kind of government would occur as a result of a side trip to a grocery store.
It was September 16, 1989 and Yeltsin, then newly elected to the new Soviet parliament and the Supreme Soviet, had just visited Johnson Space Center (Houston, Texas). What followed was …. an unscheduled trip inside a nearby Randall’s grocery store.
Yeltsin, then 58, roamed the aisles of Randall’s nodding his head in amazement. He told his fellow Russians in his entourage that if their people, who often must wait in line for most goods, saw the conditions of U.S. supermarkets, “there would be a revolution.”
Shoppers and employees stopped him to shake his hand and say hello. Yeltsin asked customers about what they were buying and how much it cost, later asking the store manager if one needed a special education to manage a store. He marveled at the produce section, the fresh fish market, and the checkout counter. He looked especially excited about frozen pudding pops.
The fact that stores like these were on nearly every street corner in America amazed him. They even offered free cheese samples. Yeltsin didn’t leave empty-handed, as he was given a small bag of goodies to enjoy on his trip.
About a year after the Russian leader left office, a Yeltsin biographer later wrote that on the plane ride to Yeltsin’s next destination, Miami, he was despondent. He couldn’t stop thinking about the plentiful food at the grocery store and what his countrymen had to subsist on in Russia.
In Yeltsin’s own autobiography, he wrote about the experience at Randall’s, which shattered his view of communism. Two years later, he left the Communist Party and began making reforms to turn the economic tide in Russia.
“When I saw those shelves crammed with hundreds, thousands of cans, cartons and goods of every possible sort, for the first time I felt quite frankly sick with despair for the Soviet people,” Yeltsin wrote. “That such a potentially super-rich country as ours has been brought to a state of such poverty! It is terrible to think of it.”
So God took a plain man of the people to a grocery store and the future of the largest nation on earth was forever changed. Russia is by no means out of the woods today, but now Russians can worship again, buy consumer goods, and enough heat and food. They can wear jeans and play rock music, and hope for the future. Allowing Christianity is a major change because Christians bring life to a nation: “he who has the Son has life.”
God tells us, “Watch and pray and do not faint.” Just because we don’t see God working, is no reason to not pray. He uses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise. Expect it!