Joseph Bondarenko was born in 1936 in the Ukraine, the son of a pastor. In 1955, he was miraculously admitted to the Institute of Marine Engineers [Naval Academy] since he was not a member of the Komsomol [All-Union Leninist Young Communist League].
At the Institute, he was threatened by the Young Communist League and even the KGB. In his own words: “Then I was called to the office of the rector of the Institute, who gave me an ultimatum: ‘God or diploma - choose!’ God gave me strength and courage, and I made my choice. I said: ‘Serving God and my neighbor is the meaning and purpose of my life. I cannot deny Him who gave His life for me. I cannot deny God for the sake of the diploma.’ So, after six years of study, I was expelled from the institute for my work among young people and for promoting faith in God.”1
After his expulsion from the Naval Academy, Christian disciple Bondarenko would go on to serve three stints in Soviet prison camps for his faith in Jesus Christ. Imprisoned for nearly a decade in inhuman, godless Gulag conditions, he was far away from his wife and children. Here, in the Gulag, the minister, author, theologian, and public speaker became known as the “Billy Graham of Russia.”2
The now 83-yr-old pastor spoke at Godspeak Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks, CA, last Sunday. As if having a déjà vu, he said, “Everything that’s happening today [in America] is almost like a movie I have already watched.3
“I see a lot of parallels between the Soviet regime and things happening now because there was a time in history where they [the communists] closed churches completely, then they would reopen a little bit, and if the church was open there were certain ‘guidelines’ given to pastors.
“Don’t they realize what is happening now in America is exactly what happened to us in communist Russia? It started with ‘Don’t gather. Don’t sing. Spread apart. Listen to the government.’ Then it quickly turned into full-on persecution and the church did not wake up in time. I am here to beg you to call the church to wake up, stand firm, conquer!”4
“The system was more merciful towards murderers, pedophiles, and criminals than to Christians.
“First they took away freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, freedom of the press, and [imposed] a very strict censorship and control of all media.”
America is beginning to resemble the Soviet Union with its slanted and prejudiced news media mirroring the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic’s news organs Pravda and Izvestia, and with Big Tech’s censorship of free speech, government intrusion into religious liberty and the ostracization of the constitutional rights of freedom of religion and assembly.
“Private schools and homeschooling were completely forbidden,” Bondarenko continued, “because the government was overseeing education of all people and all ages.”
With that in mind, Evangelical and Pro Life Catholic Christians will understand that if they do not regain control of the wellsprings of liberty that are propelling the culture, sustainable freedom and liberty for our children and grandchildren is far from certain.
American Christendom has gotten itself in a terrible state over the last 100 years. Its anemic presence in the marketplace shows in its lack of power, vigor, and vitality. By abandoning the public square, American Christendom has failed to realize that everyone, not just some, will suffer from the violent secular commotion against God’s set boundaries of righteousness. Look at where secular government has extended its protections, and piety:
Engel v. Vitale in 1962 - removal of prayer to Jehovah God in public education.
Abington School District v. Schempp in 1963 - removal of the Bible from public schools.
Roe v. Wade in 1973 - slaying of unborn children.
Stone v. Graham in 1980 - removal of the Ten Commandments from public school walls.
Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015 - legalization of the sin of homosexuality and homosexual marriage.
Bostock v. Clayton County in 2020 - expansion of homosexual and transgender rights.
Although false, secularism is a religion, and although producing distress and misery, it has borne much fruit since it emerged in the late 19th century. Its tempestuous Marxist trampling of America’s once Christian institutions, public schools and universities is now part and parcel of the culture. There is much that needs reversal and renewal if America is to survive.
“This is not decay, this is organized destruction,” said U.S. Attorney General William Barr recently of secularism. “Secular forces and their allies have marshaled all the forces of mass communication, popular culture, the entertainment industry, and academia, in an unremitting assault on religion and traditional values.”
We praise General Barr for his moral stance, elucidating on the battle between the two principalities - Christianity vs Secularism - vying for ideological supremacy and control of resources in the public square.