Vladimir Putin calls himself a Christian, but he has declared war on the Gospel, and speaks of war with the West.
(PHOTO: SCREENSHOT/YOUTUBE/RIA NOVOSTI)Russian President Vladimir Putin makes the sign of the cross as he venerates the relic of St. Nicholas in Moscow's Christ the Savior Cathedral.

Darkness is falling in Russia – 143 million people spread across 11 time zones are slaves of an evil they either cannot see, or cannot stop.

Vladimir Putin calls himself a Christian, but he has declared war on the Gospel, and speaks of war with the West.

Preaching the Gospel in the open air is now illegal in Russia. So is sharing the Gospel with friends and co-workers -- even in your own home. So is inviting friends to come to church to hear the Word of God.

Christianity Today described the Russian law signed in July 2016 as the "most restrictive measures [against religious freedom] in post-Soviet history."

Yet there is no end in sight to this religious persecution, with Putin expected to be re-elected March 18, and he bragged about Russia's nuclear weapons and showed a video of multiple warheads aimed at Florida in a recent speech.

The Lord calls us to be watchmen on the walls in Ezekiel 33. We must always be ready to identify emerging threats to our nation and to warn our leaders and people.

The Scriptures also call us to take the Gospel into dark places; Jesus calls us to be "the light of the world."

We must stand with our brothers and sisters who love Christ but hear the prison doors closing and locking around them. We must never stop communicating the good news, especially to nations enslaved by cruel and wicked tyrants.

Finally, the Scriptures call us to be prayer warriors. Most of us can't walk into the Oval Office or other corridors of power. It is, therefore, easy to feel that we have no influence when global events spin out of control.

But we have direct access to the King of kings and the Lord of lords. So let us pray without ceasing for everyone involved. We can have tremendous impact on the course of men and nations by getting on our knees in intercessory prayer.

Jesus never taught His disciples they were powerless in the face of evil. To the contrary, He said "power will come upon you" and "you will be My witnesses in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and even to the ends of the earth." (Acts 1:8)

He said, "Love our enemies and pray for those who persecute you." (Matthew 5:44)

So, let us pray without ceasing for Vladimir Putin, his family and his advisors – pray they are saved or removed from power.

Let us pray for our brothers and sisters in Russia, that "words may be given [to them] so that [they] will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which [they are] ambassador[s] in chains. Pray that [they] may declare it fearlessly, as [they] should." (Ephesians 6:19-20)

Let us pray, too, for President Trump, and Vice President Pence, and their advisors, for the wisdom to know how best to counter the Putin threat and safeguard the American people and our allies in NATO and the Middle East.

In the face of such evil, let us not be silent or cower in fear. Rather, let us be strong and courageous and serve Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.

My father's family escaped from the last czar, in the face of persecution of Russian Jews in the early 20th century, and I'm so grateful that they did. But I don't intend to run from this czar. With whatever means I have, I intend to confront him.

What if you and I worked together? What if we sounded the trumpet, to arouse our government, the people, and the Church to each play our part? What if we took to heart what one man can do he if believes that "nothing is impossible with God"?

Our task is to be faithful.

Faithful to see threats.

Faithful to sound the alarm.

Faithful to rouse the people to action, even in the face of grave danger.

Let us, then, be faithful, come what may.

Joel C. Rosenberg is a New York Times bestselling author. His latest book, "The Kremlin Conspiracy," released March 6, 2018. This article is adapted from an address to the National Religious Broadcasters Convention in Nashville on March 2.

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