Glasnost --the new Soviet policy of openness--has extended to Santa Ana, where an organization that has smuggled Bibles into Communist countries for decades will begin legal shipment of a million Bibles to the Soviet Union.
The $2.5-million project will be financed mostly by U.S. Christians, said Robert Hawley, director of Open Doors With Brother Andrew, which has its U.S headquarters in Santa Ana. The Bibles will be shipped in increments of 100,000 starting later this year, Hawley said.
Open Doors offers the Bibles to the Russian Orthodox Church in connection with the millennium celebration of Christianity in the Soviet Union. Brother Andrew, the organization's founder, received an acceptance letter at his home in Holland on July 8 from the chairman of the Department for External Church Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, Hawley said.
"We are obviously excited," Hawley said. "They (the Soviet Union) are not desiring to become a Christian nation. They are doing what is necessary for the Soviet Union to recover from economic difficulty. They have acknowledged and are willing to accept the fact that Christians are a major factor in developing this economic turnaround," he said.
Open Doors volunteers have been taking Bibles unofficially into Communist countries since 1955. In 1981, volunteers delivered a million Bibles in a single night in a secret operation to China.
It is estimated there are between 3 million and 4 million Bibles in the Soviet Union along with 50 million to 70 million Christians, 40 million to 50 million of whom are Russian Orthodox, Hawley said.