Alexei Navalny, the recently murdered opposition leader to Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin was also a lawyer, an anti-corruption activist and a political prisoner. Christianity Today reported that this rather militant atheist transformed in recent years to an activist believer.
Russian president Putin attempted to kill him via the Novichok nerve agent in August of 2020, but he survived and recuperated in western Europe. Navalny then returned to the Russian Federation in 2021, knowing he would face immediate arrest and imprisonment. He had to know he was walking into the hands of a corrupt leader who wanted him dead. Who does this?
Although always an activist, his motives changed in his latter years. He was not only opposing the deep corruption in his home country, but also a government that had constructed a weak façade of Christian nationalism, with support from Russian Orthodox leadership. It was a false façade of Christianity – devoid of Jesus Christ and the Hope of the Gospel. Navalny used his show trial in 2021 to express his faith in Jesus Christ at great length to the Russian government and condemn this false facade. He was imprisoned in the Arctic Circle after his trial and was murdered just prior to a prisoner swap which would have released him.
He spoke about the clarity he received from the Bible:
"But now I am a believer, and it helps me a lot in my activities because everything becomes much, much easier ... because there is a book in which, in general, it is ... clearly written what action to take in every situation. It's not always easy to follow ... but I am actually trying ... “
The Bible made everything clear, defining what action to take. The paradox was that what he was called to do was hard, but hard had become, in a sense, easy. This courage from scripture to speak out against corruption and false Christianity sent him willingly back to the den of evil. I share his clarity. I’m not sure I can muster his courage.
We have plenty of evil to navigate in the US, but it often lacks the raw brutality evil expresses elsewhere. It provides a glimpse of what evil unleashed will be like in end times. That should provide us with the focus and urgency to continue sharing the life changing Good News of Jesus Christ. From Roman’s 10: 13-15 (NIV):
13 for, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.14 How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? 15 And how can anyone preach unless they are sent? As it is written: “How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!”
Muster the courage to share truth. Dare to share it in the most broken places on earth you can find.
Give Hope. Give Life. Give Bibles.