Back to ASSIST and the neo-Pentecostal “International Christian Medical Conference” I blogged a couple of days ago. A new report on the ASSIST website notes the presence of US-based Ukrainian evangelical leader Mikhail Morgulis. This site has an overview:
Mikhail Morgulis, founder of [Christian Bridge International], is a well-known writer in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and throughout the CIS countries. While still living in the Soviet Union, he was awarded the First Prize in Literature by the communist government in 1972. He underwent a spiritual transformation to become a prominent Christian leader who in 1987 was the first to broadcast Christian programs on state-owned radio stations inside the USSR. Prior to that his message was heard on many Christian radio programs in the world, and millions of believers and nonbelievers in the CIS are familiar with his voice.
Morgulis moved to the USA, where he established Christian Bridge International and developed what he calls “the Spiritual Diplomacy project”. In 1991 this project brought 18 American evangelical leaders – including Philip Yancey – to visit officials in Russia:
“…Finally, the then President of Soviet Union Mikhail Gorbachev invited us to the Kremlin. When we were with Mr. Gorbachev, I asked him it was would be possible to pray in the Kremlin. He told me, ‘Mr. Morgulis, the Kremlin is not a church,’ and then, after pause, he said, ‘but why not.’ So I started to pray about his mother, my mother and all people and I prayed ‘In Jesus Name!’.
Morgulis has also met various other political leaders:
“So Spiritual Diplomacy is a new spiritual political concept. After meeting in the Kremlin, we were in Ukraine. We met with the president of Ukraine and also the president of Georgia, and four times with the president of Belarus. We’ve also met with the Prime Minister of Israel before Mr. Sharon. Also, I have even prayed in the Knesset in Israel.
I prayed with Palestinian Muslim leaders and this is all spiritual diplomacy. The idea is to stop any conflict religion, political, social, ethical conflict with use of the Christian message from the Bible.
Morgulis explains further in another article.
“We don’t punish or force people. We try to change the hearts of the leaders of these countries with love and respect. By changing the hearts of the leaders we change the situations in these countries.”
As the former prime minister of Israel Ariel Sharon put it, “Spiritual Diplomacy is the one last realistic chance to find peace on this earth.” Leaders of the Palestine Authority agreed that Spiritual Diplomacy proposes a practical way for reaching peace and understanding. In his presentation in front of the Knesset and the Palestinian leaders, Mikhail said that Spiritual Diplomacy will not make them love each other right away, but will teach tolerance. The flowers of love will have a chance to blossom on the roots of tolerance.
This all sounds rather like Frank Buchman and Moral Re-Armament. And as with Buchman, one wonders whether Morgulis is being used for PR by those he wishes to convert. Here he is on Europe’s “Last Dictator”, Alexander Lukashenko of Belarus:
We also try to improve the relations between the United States and Belarus. I spoke before the U.S. Congress and addressed the Helsinki Commission. I said: “If you do not like President Lukashenko, you don’t have to love him. He is not an angel; he is just like all of us. Not one of us is an angel; otherwise we would be in Paradise. I have not seen any angel-presidents. Neither George Bush, nor Vladimir Putin is an angel. To make matters worse, President Lukashenko, with his charismatic character, expresses himself in much stronger terms than he really means. You need to love the people, even if you do not care too much for the leader”…I also met with President Lukashenko several times and discussed spiritual subjects with him. He is nothing like the media wants us to believe. He has a capacity for making deep judgments. He can understand you. Lukashenko is not at all a blunt farmer, as some want to portray him. He is a historian; he majored in history and has a fine knowledge of world events and the history of religion.
In 2004, Morgulis reportedly opined that “the US president would like to enjoy the popularity rating Lukashenka has”.
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