Salvation Events: 'Surprised by Joy'

On Wednesday, February 7, the Communist Party leadership of the Soviet Union surrendered its seven-decade monopoly on political power and called for democratic pluralism. On Sunday, February 11, the white South African government released Nelson Mandela after 27 years in prison.

Mikhail Gorbachev has opened the door to more democracy than any leader of the "free world" has for generations, and the most famous political prisoner in modern times has emerged from captivity as the most powerful force in a nation still ruled by his captors. The Eastern bloc, seen through Western eyes as the ultimate symbol of totalitarian control, has become the world's new cradle of liberty. The black man most hated and feared by his country's white minority now stands as the best hope to bring both blacks and whites together in a new South Africa.

In biblical language these are "salvation events." They are happenings filled with the pregnant promise of freedom, justice, liberation, peace, and reconciliation. They break the yoke of oppression while offering a healing balm to deep wounds. They testify to God's will and purposes on the earth.

Such events turn the tables of history; they shake the world upside down. They are beyond predictability and control, especially by those who rule the earth. The powers we thought to be all powerful are undone by them. The lock of historical inevitability and determinism is broken open and a world of possibilities is again revealed.

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