Virtual Voices

Thirty years ago: Solidarity

Religion

Monday is a 30th anniversary worth remembering-and, happily, it falls on Labor Day. On September 5, 1981, Poland's Congress of Solidarity movement gathered in Gdansk more than 800 delegates representing 10,000,000 members. Veteran Polish journalist Tom Dao-Pompowski, who ran a Christian radio station in Poland after the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989, recently sent me a note recalling that government officials called Solidarity a labor union, but "it did not resemble any Western workers' union. Solidarity members had trust in God, respect for man, and disbelief in the state."

Dao-Pompowski said Solidarity's motivation and Christian values distinguished its campaign from the recent uprisings in the Middle East: "The Solidarity movement was not aimed against anybody. Its first goal was to unite and reconcile people fragmented and isolated by the operations of Communist secret police and Communist propaganda. During the strikes, workers publicly forgave their oppressors."

This approach developed because of spiritual renewal: The Bible became the most read book among many Polish families. People formed prayer groups and had monthly "agape" meals. Protestant churches cooperated with Catholic organizations in screening the Jesus movie hundreds of times. Dao-Pompowski recalled that "Polish people were helped by many missionaries from Christian organizations, including the Billy Graham Association, Focus on the Family, Youth With a Mission, and The Bible Society."

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Dao-Pompowski also said, "Bibles and Christian literature smuggled through tightly controlled borders were distributed in unusual places, such as the Russian Orthodox Churches. Christian radio programs sponsored by believers from the West were beaming the Word of God, every Sunday, from transmitters in Monte Carlo and Munich. This Christian revival, called sometimes the 'revolution of conscience' had a decisive role in the success of peaceful negotiations between the Solidarity movement's representative and the Communist regime. . . . Democratic changes were the fruits of an invisible spiritual change."

Marvin Olasky
Marvin Olasky

Marvin is editor in chief of WORLD News Group and the author of more than 20 books, including The Tragedy of American Compassion. Follow Marvin on Twitter @MarvinOlasky.

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