Swapping Christ for an Aggressive, Unprovoked Ukraine Invasion

Mar 7, 2024

What Went Wrong coverNew Philip Yancey Book Reflects on Russia’s Lost Opportunity after 1991

 FRANKLIN, TENNESSEE – Feeding the hungry, sheltering the homeless, comforting the parentless, counseling the shell-shocked. Ukraine has been Mission Eurasia’s primary focus since February 24, 2022, when the Russian invasion began.

Mission Eurasia began in 1991 after the fall of the U.S.S.R. In that remarkable year, the old Soviet guard acknowledged the failure of communism and looked to the U.S. for help. For those who had grown up with the specter of the Cold War, this was an amazing and bewildering turn of events.

Bestselling Christian author Philip Yancey was on one of the first missions of Christian leaders to Russia in this hope-filled time. He traveled with John Bernbaum, who would become president of the Russian-American Christian University in Moscow, and with Mission Eurasia (missioneurasia.org) founders Peter and Anita Deyneka. They met with President Mikhail Gorbachev in the Kremlin. They prayed with the KGB. They were told their visit was more important than reducing the nuclear arsenal.

Philip Yancey is available for interview to reflect on the 23-year path that began as sincere seeking and has turned into a disastrous pursuit of a new Russian empire.

“What Went Wrong: Russia’s Lost Opportunity and the Path to Ukraine” is the most recent title from Yancey, co-authored with Bernbaum. In this timely book, Yancey and Bernbaum recount the halcyon days of 1991 when the U.S.S.R. ceased to exist, and Russian leaders desperately sought out American Christians to bring the moral certitude of a forsaken faith.

Denis Geronkov, field ministries executive director for Mission Eurasia, with an abandoned tankDuring this time, Ukraine became an independent nation and began to experience its own Jesus revolution, with a faith community that is still flourishing amid the war. Russia, even for the tremendous investment of hundreds of Christian ministries, instead returned to its autocratic roots. And today, the world reflects on a war that crossed its two-year threshold on February 24.

Thousands of lives lost, families splintered, Christian leaders murdered, Ukrainian religious sites destroyed or occupied.

In the three decades since their initial visit, Yancey and Bernbaum dedicated themselves to intensive educational and leadership development in Russia. But rather than a new nation built on democratic principles, they find themselves reflecting on Russia’s 180-degree turn from democracy to a full-scale aggressive invasion of Ukraine.

They are earnestly exploring the question: What went wrong with Russia in the past 33 years after the collapse of the U.S.S.R.? What led Russia to such aggression against Ukraine, the West, the U.S., the global community, and ultimately impacting humanity itself?

“I keep replaying the gripping scenes I witnessed in 1991,” Yancey writes. “Dazed Pravda editors grasping for truth, peasants standing in a packed chapel in Zagorsk, journalists applauding prisoners, and even KGB agents issuing a public apology. It seems as if an entire ideology was melting around me. Instead it went underground, only to reappear in a more sinister form.”

Wrong turns in Russia have led to this devastating and unprovoked attack on a sovereign and peaceful neighbor nation. In response, Mission Eurasia has served more than 300,000 refugees at centers in Poland and Moldova, delivered more than two tons of food, and handed out more than two million New Testaments and copies of biblical literature, even after the Russian army destroyed Mission Eurasia’s headquarters outside Kyiv.

To learn more about Mission Eurasia, visit missioneurasia.org.


To schedule an interview with Philip Yancey or with Mission Eurasia President Sergey Rakhuba, email Clem Boyd, Director of Public Relations, at clem@infinityconcepts.com or text or call him at 724.930.4003.

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