By Christopher Proudlove —
A letter-writing and prayer campaign that helped free a Christian dissident in Russia stamped a lasting impression on me.
The late award-winning journalist Dan Wooding launched the campaign urging the release from the Russian gulag of a despairing believer, Alexander Ogorodnikov.
His “crime” was running a Christian discussion group while studying at Moscow State University. After five years incarceration, without a single letter or visitor, Alexander was suicidal and asked to be executed.
Keston, the British college that monitored persecution in the former USSR, heard of his plight, which Dan also learned about.
“I know it is a sin to commit suicide, but I am so lonely that I wish to ask you to have me executed by firing squad,” Alexander wrote to then Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev.
Within weeks of Dan’s pleas on behalf of Alexander to the American media thousands of letters arrived at the prison. Prayers were spectacularly answered when UK Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher persuaded President Gorbachev to release Alexander.
Dan, publicizing a Billy Graham crusade in Moscow, later had an emotional meeting with the former film studies student who began running a soup kitchen for the homeless in the city.
“You don’t know what it was like to discover that there were Christians who cared — who wanted me to live and who loved me,” Wooding was told.
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SOURCE: Assist News Service, written by Mark Ellis