Planting seeds for a Russian harvest

This is one in a series of daily excerpts from “The Legend of Morris Cerullo: How God Used an Orphan to Change the World.”

By Morris Cerullo

Moscow was a scary place to be in the mid-1960s. It was not a place where Americans were warmly received since it was the era of the Cold War between the world’s two superpowers. The U.S.S.R. was the leading communist power on the globe and was immersed in an arms race with the U.S.

But when God called Morris to go somewhere, he went, no questions asked, no concerns about personal safety. He trusted that God knew what He was doing.

At that time the Soviet Union was not a church-going nation. With the blessing of the KGB, Russia’s feared and fearless internal security agency, the Russian Orthodox Church ruled the country denominationally. The only non-Orthodox church of note was a large Baptist church that the KGB allowed in Moscow.

When Morris and his crusade director, Claire Hutchins, arrived in Moscow at the behest of the Lord, they had nothing planned. Morris made contact with a few religious leaders he knew of to inform them of his presence. Through a series of snowballing conversations he was invited to speak at the Baptist church. The KGB approved the plan.

Morris preached at a Sunday service and treated it like a crusade. He gave a simple but powerful gospel presentation. He healed some of the congregants present. He gave an altar call. Everything he said was translated into Russian by his translator, who was a KGB agent.

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Some people responded, but the KGB’s presence seemed to suppress people’s response. They knew they were being watched closely and that too much religious zeal would label them as potential troublemakers — or worse. Regardless, Morris was disappointed that there did not seem to be a breakthrough during that service.

Little did he know that he had planted seeds that day that would blossom into magnificent spiritual fruit a quarter of a century later when the U.S.S.R. dissolved into various nations, communism fell apart in the region, and the Russian people sought a deeper understanding of and relationship with God.

In 1989 Morris was able to return to lead a victorious crusade. Then in subsequent trips to Russia he held crusades that attracted upwards of twenty thousand people night after night for a solid week. Each morning following a crusade a School of Ministry was conducted to train and anoint thousands of new spiritual leaders for the rebuilding country. Those newly saved and trained believers went on to reach out into their own communities and to plant thousands of new churches in the country that for so long had rejected God.

In fact, it was while ministering in Russia that he videotaped a new message titled “Proof Producers.” That message became a staple of Morris’s outreach efforts for years to come, cited by some as his legacy message. The crux of the teaching was that when a believer appropriates the power of God he can do the works that God intended him to perform, as described in John 6:28. The teaching was made into a two-hour documentary that was then aired across all ten time zones of Russia! The response was so overwhelming that the state-owned television network begged Morris to be able to run it again — twice. The airings produced so much mail that the postal service was delivering numerous, full sacks of letters to Morris’s ministry there day after day.

The Russian people were among the first to gain exposure to that-life changing message, but Morris would ultimately share that message with more than three million people across the planet, producing a continually astounding positive response from people.

Morris’s simple exercise in faithfulness — showing up in a dangerous country with no invitations to speak — turned into the first domino to fall in a series of mighty outreach events. God used the Russian experience to reinforce to Morris the importance of obedience and trusting God’s timing. His energetic ministry in Moscow’s Baptist church did not produce immediate, startling results, but neither did God’s Word return void from within that cold, dark, reticent congregation that Sunday morning in 1965. Morris’s passionate service that morning provided the single ray of light that would later enable him to reach a large body of Christ-followers in a dark and desperate nation.