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World News

Franklin Graham and world leaders pay tribute to Mikhail Gorbachev

by Alex Collett

US evangelist Franklin Graham and world leaders have paid tribute to former Soviet Union leader Mikhail Gorbachev, recognizing his pivotal role in history.

The 91-year-old died on Tuesday 30th August 2022.

In a post on his Facebook account, Pastor Franklin said the former leader  played a critical role 'along with the US President Ronald Reagan' and 'bringing down the Iron Curtain and ending the Cold War.'

He went on to say: "President Reagan stood in West Berlin and said, 'Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall' and within a couple of years that happened.

"My father Billy Graham first met Mr. Gorbachev at the White House in 1987, and in 1991, he visited with him at the Kremlin to discuss moral issues and the need for spiritual values in society. 

"At the time, my father was in Moscow to lead a School of Evangelism and to prepare to preach in the city, and he thought it was important to express his appreciation for Mr. Gorbachev's support of religious freedom in Russia. 

"Mikhail Gorbachev certainly made his mistakes, but I am grateful for all that he did to end the Cold War peacefully and that he helped allow churches in Russia to worship freely-opening up incredible opportunities for the Gospel in that part of the world."

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has also paid tribute, saying: "Mikhail Gorbachev was one of those people who changed the world and unquestionably changed it for the better.

"When you look at what he did to make Europe whole, free, to give, freedom to the countries to the former Soviet Union, it was quite an extraordinary thing." 

President Joe Biden also offered his condolences, calling Gorbachev "a man of remarkable vision" who had "the imagination to see that a different future was possible and the courage to risk his entire career to achieve it.

"When Mr. Gorbachev visited the White House in 2009, he and I spoke for a long time about our countries’ ongoing work to reduce U.S. and Russian nuclear stockpiles. It was easy to see why so many worldwide held him in such high esteem.

"We send our deepest condolences to his family and friends, and to people everywhere who benefited from his belief in a better world."

Martyn Whittock, Christian historian and columnist spoke of the qualities we should really revere and remember Mikhail Gorbachev for: "The ability to reach out to enemies or perceived enemies, the courage to take risks for peace, and for reconciliation, and the insights and wisdom to see the bigger picture, not just the narrow national focus and his own personal advantage. 

"Gorbachev was not perfect, who of us are, but he took extraordinary risks, and he paid a very high price for it, but the world did not pay the price of nuclear war and for that, we can be very grateful."

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