City Of Refuge

This article is a shortened version of a chapter from the anthology, What About the Russians? A Christian Approach to U.S.-Soviet Conflict, edited by Dale Brown, which was scheduled to be released by Brethren Press in spring, 1984. It is used by permission.—The Editors

In an Ohio church camp several years after World War II, a partly disabled German veteran told how a Russian peasant woman had saved his life. He was fleeing but had been so badly wounded that he could not go on. The woman took him—an enemy, a human being—into her hut, dressed his wounds, tore up her linen for bandages. After he had eaten and slept, he resumed his flight.

The German pastor, physician, and artist Kurt Reuber lost his life in Stalingrad. But in his last months he did a number of portrait sketches of Russians he had come to know. Those faces remain as moving expressions of a humanity shared amid the chaos and abysmal division of war.

Partly because of the ruthlessness of some Soviet actions and policies, partly because of decades of rigorously orchestrated propaganda, Western countries have a deep prevailing fear of the Russians and, joined with that, immense animosity. The Russians on their side are increasingly gripped by fear of us, fear most of all that the United States will launch a nuclear first strike and destroy their country.

How in a world that is careening toward nuclear war can enough people see the human faces of those on the other side of the planet? In this dread time what can we learn from the biblical revelation about the Russians and ourselves?

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