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A man awakened one day, according to a German story, to find himself tightly bound, hand and foot. Gradually, and with great effort, he learned to move about again, to take care of himself, and eventually to execute fancy flips. He built a new life for himself in the circus, performing the tricks he could do all tied up. Then one day he woke to find that his bindings had disappeared as inexplicably as they had once appeared. Disoriented by his sudden freedom, he staggered, hardly able to walk. Barbara Green, an expert on the churches in eastern Germany, cites this early twentieth-century story, The Bound Man, to illustrate the present experience of Eastern European Christians.
A young man from Romania sums up the experience of Christian youth in another way: "It's like being thrown into deep water when we don't know how to swim." In both comparisons, the church is depicted as unprepared for new tasks in a new environment.
The following paragraphs are based in part upon answers to a question that is repeatedly posed to members of the Protestant churches in Eastern Europe: what basic challenges do you face now after the demise of the communist states? Of all the challenges cited, three surface over and over again.
Bishop Kaldur of the Estonian Evangelical Lutheran Church said that re-education was the most basic task his parishes faced. He emphasized that re-education does not simply mean replacing a Marxist ideology with some other system of thought and practice. "The danger for us is that people simply want to transfer their allegiance from one ideology to another. If Christianity is reduced to an ideology and held up as a …