Due to running out of time on Sunday, I wasn’t able to present this sermon illustration…but I thought that it was still worth sharing, especially in light of our church’s support of the missions work in Ukraine. -Pastor Josh
In 2004, Victor Yushchenko ran for the presidency of Ukraine. Vehemently opposed by the ruling party, Yushchenko’s face was disfigured and he almost lost his life when he was mysteriously poisoned. This was not enough to deter him from running for the presidency.
On the day of the election, Yushchenko was comfortably in the lead. The ruling party, not to be denied, tampered with the results. The state-run television station reported “Ladies and gentlemen, we announce that the challenger Victor Yushchenko has been decisively defeated.”
In the lower right-hand corner of the screen, a woman by the name of Natalia Dmitruk was providing a translation service for the deaf community. As the news presenter regurgitated the lies of the corrupt regime, Natalia Dmitruk refused to translate them. “I’m addressing all the deaf citizens of Ukraine” she signed. “They are lying and I’m ashamed to translate those lies. Yushchenko is our president.”
Over 100,000 in the deaf community sprang into action. They text messaged their friends about the fraudulent result and as news spread of Dmitruk’s act of defiance, increasing numbers of journalists were inspired to likewise tell the truth…and in a matter of hours, the whole country knew the truth.
Over the coming weeks, the “Orange Revolution” occurred as a million people wearing orange made their way to the capital city of Kiev, demanding a new election. The government was forced to meet their demands…a new election was held and Yushchenko became President.
Author Philip Yancey writes (in connection with The Sermon on the Mount and specifically The Beatitudes):
“When I heard the story behind the orange revolution, the image of a small screen of truth in the corner of the big screen became for me an ideal picture of the church. You see we as a church do not control the big screen. (When we do, we usually mess it up.) Go to any magazine rack or turn on the television and you see a consistent message. What matters is how beautiful you are, how much money or power you have. Similarly, though the world includes many poor people, they rarely make the magazine covers or the news shows. Instead we focus on the super-rich, names like Bill Gates or Oprah Winfrey.… Our society is hardly unique. Throughout history, nations have always glorified winners, not losers.”
“Then, like the sign language translator in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, along comes a person named Jesus who says in effect, “Don’t believe the big screen – they’re lying. It’s the poor who are blessed, not the rich. Mourners are blessed too, as well as those who hunger and thirst, and the persecuted. Those who go through life thinking they’re on top, end up on the bottom. And those who go through life feeling they’re on the bottom…end up on the top. After all, what does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”