We interrupt our four-part survey of the U.S. religion circus to bring you a timely word on how to remove unpleasant politicians from office without bringing in the CIA, the Marines, or 007 retreads.
The modest proposal by my friend Pat Robertson to remove Presidente Hugo Chavez from his office in small pieces was not received well, overall. Perhaps his choice of words was lacking in subtlety – “assassinate” has such a cold tone. Perhaps he should have gone a bit further into his dictionary and found a more folksy term, like “bump off.” Or perhaps he should have just followed this warm advice: “HEY, PAT! LAY OFF THE DECAF!”
No matter. His suggestion is now on the table, and the press has given his knuckles a nasty rap.
Strange, this is the same press that made not a peep when quondam Clinton adviser George Stephanopolous offered the identical advice in his 1998 Newsweek article, “Why We Should Kill Saddam,” urging that the United States take the brute out (for keeps, not for lunch).
But enough quibbling. I come to you today with a positive message – as usual – tendering a kinder, gentler solution to the problem of obnoxious politicians:
Pray the bums out!
Four weeks ago, I told you how the Berlin Wall was toppled by a prayer movement that began in homes, then spilled out onto the streets.
I also mentioned India, where the viciously anti-Christian BJP party was stunningly voted out in May 2004, by 5 to 10 million Christians praying and fasting against it worldwide. They were spearheaded by a handful of my house-church friends in India.
Today, I’ll mention last winter’s Orange Revolution in Ukraine.
You remember the outraged reports of the rigged election Nov. 21. You remember the scenes of a thousand tents jammed together in the subfreezing cold on Kiev’s broad Khreshchatyk Boulevard, where Hitler’s tanks had once roared through, leaving only two buildings standing, and where 15 centuries before, Christianity had started in Eastern Europe. You may even remember the scenes of a million Ukrainians jampacked into this historic venue in Maidan (Independence Square).
But what you probably weren’t told is that the Orange Revolution was a Christian affair. Each morning of the vigil was begun with prayers and singing. The city crime rate plummeted to zero. Police were nowhere in sight, yet there was no fighting.
Most amazing of all, there was no drinking! Now, vodka is to Ukraine as jet fuel is to Delta. I have walked through Maidan after big celebrations, and booze bottles are everywhere. But for 40 days, the demonstrators became teetotalers as Kievans opened their hearts and homes, giving shelter to those without tents and bringing huge quantities of warm food and clothing to the shivering young people on Khreshchatyk, as noted in eyewitness descriptions of those incredibly warm freezing days.
President Yuschenko is a quiet man, an accountant and modest Orthodox. But on his first morning as president, after the prayer and blessing in Parliament, he shocked everyone by bringing his wife and children a few steps toward the front and bowing on their knees to bring the nation before God – something unprecedented in that part of the world. He announced, “Our government has come to the conclusion that Ukraine can never rise on her feet until she bows down her knees before the Almighty God.”
He further announced: “My government will not steal! I know it is a fantasy to hear this in Ukraine … My government will never give or receive bribes! … We will never use money to shift lobby votes!”
But the firebrand of the revolution is Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko. With her hair plaited in peasant style like a folk dancer from the Carpathian heartland, she projects an image of innocence that belies her fiery oratory. Also, she is a born-again, Spirit-filled Protestant (like some other administration leaders). A young man I met at one of my Ukraine house-church conferences even sent me some photos of himself leading Bible study and prayer meetings in (*gasp*) Tymoshenko’s offices!
This dollars-and-cents lady amazed everyone with her first announced agendum: “Faith! … in God … in Ukraine … in each citizen.”
Pray for Ukraine. Centuries of corruption are not erased in a day. But they’re working on it.
Flawed rulers will always be with us, but now when evil gets out of hand, it becomes a target for the waves of believing prayers that are sweeping and transforming the world. Peacefully.