Thursday, January 14, 2016

Territorial leaders visit Moscow Part Two

Good News: Would you relate to GN readers some of your impressions of Russia?

Russia is in a state of political flux.  Changes occur daily, even hourly. It certainly is true so far as our Salvation Army representatives are concerned. During the 6 days that we were in Russia, Mrs Captain Sven-Erik (Kathleen) Ljungholm’s office had to be abandoned after operating for several months in a government ministry building. They received a letter saying they must vacate the premises immediately. Arrangements were made her to move the furniture, desks and telephones down to a little storage room off the auditorium they use for a corps. 

The people of Russia are poorly paid. A lot of them are well-trained but they receive very, very little. Mrs. Ljungholm told us about a woman who lives in the same apartment building as they. This paediatrician was found in great despair, contemplating suicide.  Mrs. Ljungholm
Discovered that she receives 800 rubles a month, which is something less than $3.00.  She couldn’t live on it.  The Army has helped her with food and encouragement.

You have to understand, of course, that the ruble will go quite a long way.  For example, when we were there, the exchange rate was 313 rubles to a US dollar. We discovered that we could ride on the subway for a one ruble, which means that for a dollar you get 313 rides on the subway.

We stayed at the Gorbachev Centre Hotel. In contrast to the Metropole and some of the other tourist hotels, where people pay as much as $250.00 a night, we paid the equivalent of 40.00 dollars a night. (Mrs. Ljungholm has a special relationship with the Gorbachev Hotel management. Regular tourists do not have access to this unobtrusive, yet centrally located, modern property). We discovered that in the hotel dining room we could get a fairly decent meal for about 25 cents.

We visited some of the local markets, along with Captain and Mrs Ljungholm, and discovered that there was a very limited selection.  In one place they had two pair of slippers for sale… the total stock of shoes that they had. We discovered in the same market copies of the USA Easter War Cry for sale. It appears they were left over and had been given to the soldiers to dispense, if they would, at hospitals, or as they saw fit. Some of them got into the black market, and there they were on the stand. Captain Ljungholm spoke with the man, and the next time he walked by the counter they were gone.

 There were long lines for gasoline, but we didn’t see a lot of long lines of consumers. What we did see were long lines, three blocks long of people standing shoulder to shoulder on each side of the sidewalk selling goods. One lady had jars of home-canned pickles. Others had a few books or a piece of clothing. You just sensed the desperateness on the part of the people to get whatever they could in terms of cash so they could keep on living.

Good News:  Is there anything else you would like to share about your experience in Moscow?

During the week we were in Moscow, Billy Graham was there conducting a crusade, leaning very heavily upon Salvationists for background and work behind the scenes. About three days before the crusade, the Graham people were notified that 18 of their hotel rooms  had been cancelled.  They quickly contacted the Army, and Mrs Captain Ljungholm was able to make contact with a ‘private’ hotel she knew about. (owned by former President Mikhail Gorbachev whom both the Ljungholms had met). We were present at those Billy Graham meetings. Captain Ljungholm had said to the Billy Graham people, “What are you going to do about overflow?” They said. “We have 48,000 seats in this arena,  and there won’t be any overflow.”  Said Captain Ljungholm, “You don’t know these people. You had better make some preparations.” He encouraged them to get a huge 30 by 40 foot television screen erected outside the arena.

On the first night of the campaign there were an estimated 50,000 people. They crowded right up in front of the platform so that when Billy Graham gave his invitation, there really was no place for the people to move. The following day they roped off an area in front of the platform. At the final meeting on Sunday afternoon, they announced that there were 50,000 people, with 20,000 to 30,000 outside watching the great television screen. People are eager for the Gospel. Salvationists played an important part in that grand crusade, serving as stewards.  There were groups of 20 stewards who were responsible for ushering and helping the various sections. Every one of the captains of these groups of stewards was a uniformed Salvation Army soldier. They looked marvelous and we were just absolutely as proud as we could be.  The Army is moving forward!

Good NewsThank you Commissioner Thompson for sharing your insight with our readers.[1]

Commissioner Robert E. Thompson 

End Part Two of Two

From the book; Return to Russia with Flags Unfurled, Sven Ljungholm

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

How exciting! To have been a part of all of this can only have been life changing for everyone involved. It certainly seems the country was 'ripe unto harvest'. I suppose we have to remember like the parable of the sower, some seeds fell on good ground and grew and developed. Other seeds didn't but at the time tried to grow and develop but because their roots didn't grow deep they didn't survive and cannot be seen today. Nevertheless God was and still is at work through the ranks of The Salvation Army even 25 years later.

I can't wait to read this book once it is printed. Will it be available on kindle? Praying the book will rekindle a flame in the hearts and lives of our Russian Salvationists.