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The Wind Of Change

The phrase 'the wind of change' was coined by Britain's ex-Prime Minister Sir Harold Macmillan in reference to the rapidly changing scene on the African Continent during his term of office. It proved to be one of those telling phrases which capture for posterity the transitory characteristics of a particular epoch in world history. Not yet has 'the wind of change' blown itself out over that turbulent Continent. The present situation in South Africa and Rhodesia is explosive, and other emerging nations are beset with grave problems. World statesmen do not disguise their alarm at these deteriorating developments as events seem to be moving to a climax. No-one can foresee what lies ahead. These are matters of serious concern to God's people also. In prayer 'for all men' Africa should not be neglected.

If the term 'the wind of change' is relevant to African conditions it can also be applied with equal effect to the dramatic shift in the balance of world power which has occurred in these early months of 1979. To mention but two recent events which have reverberated in Chancelleries around the world. First, the rapprochement between Communist China and the United States of America: second, the uprising in Iran culminating in the exile of the Shah and the return from exile of the Shi-ite Moslem leader Ayatollah Khomeini.

This is not the place to speculate on the political significance of these events, nor are we competent to do so. Our endeavour is to look at them from a Christian viewpoint.

It is obvious that certain economic consequences will follow

from the recent upheavals in Iran. For this reason the Shah's exile is viewed with grave misgivings by the Western democracies. Many of them are already grappling with an energy crisis. Iran has been a major supplier of oil to the West, hence her future policy as an oil exporter is of vital concern.

Israel is among those nations that have depended on Iran for the greater part of their oil supplies. To their mutual advantage Iran and Israel have for long been firm trading partners. The Shah's departure has deprived Israel of a much-needed friend among the many hostile forces which surround her. Her sense of isolation will now be the more acute and this may bring nearer an understanding with Egypt that has proved so elusive since President Sadat's visit to Jerusalem in November 1977.

From a Christian point of view a matter of prior concern is the impact of these shifts of world power on the progress of the gospel in the regions affected by them. In the case of Communist China, for long there has been relentless hostility to all Christian influences and institutions. Many fellow-believers have laid down their lives for Christ's sake. As communications with the outside world are 'eased many stories of heroic martyrdom will no doubt emerge to witness to the invincible power of the gospel. Looking to the future we enquire, Will the new stance of the Chinese hierarchy moderate hostility to Christians and restore a measure of liberty to preach the gospel among her teeming millions? That question will be foremost in the hearts of believers the world over. Time alone will provide the answer.

In the case of Iran, a similar question arises, but in the opposite direction, Will the complete ascendancy of Moslem power in the new regime, which now seems certain, lead to a hardening of attitude to the Christian gospel and those who proclaim it? Again, time alone will tell.

But no 'wind of change' can disturb God's immutable purposes.

"Be still, and know that I am God:

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth" (Psa. 46:10).

A Child confused

The following 'letter to the editor' appeared recently in the correspondence column of a London daily newspaper:

"Sir - The 'wind of change' sweeping through the Church is beginning to confuse even little children. My seven-year-old granddaughter was recently faced with three different brightly covered versions of the Bible received as presents from various friends and relations. 'God's Word?' she questioned, 'Granddad, which one?'"