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Finding Forgiveness

Mikhail Kalashnikov died on 23 December 2013 at the age of 94. He designed the legendary AK-47 assault rifle. He began designing weapons after he was wounded during the Second World War. He designed the AK-47 rifle for use in defending Russia against the Nazis. Since then the Kalashnikov AK-47 has been the weapon of choice for many around the world, including terrorists. It is a lethal weapon and has killed hundreds of thousands of people all over the world.

Kalashnikov was the son of a Russian peasant family who loved his nation. He became a national hero in the fiercely secular Communist state. For most of his life he was not a religious man. In the last few years of his life, however, he experienced great spiritual concern as he thought of the carnage the AK-47 rifle had wreaked around the world.

At the age of 91 Kalashnikov turned to God. When he first entered an Orthodox church he experienced a sense of “excitement.” Later he was baptised in the Orthodox Church, professing his faith in Jesus Christ as his Saviour, but still did not find the peace he was seeking. Six months before he died he wrote a long letter to Patriarch Kirill of the Russian Orthodox Church in which he wrote, “My spiritual torment is unbearable. I keep having the same unsolved question: If my rifle killed people does that mean that I, Mikhail Kalashnikov, am responsible for people’s deaths, even if they were enemies?”

The experience of Mikhail Kalashnikov reminds us that if we are to be ready to die and appear before God we need to experience his forgiveness. We, too, can reflect on our lives and all we have done. We may not have designed a lethal rifle, but all of us have done many wrong things which we cannot change. Our words and actions have broken God’s moral law and have often caused pain and sorrow to others.

Kalashnikov could not simply forget what he had done. He needed to find forgiveness. He turned to the only One who can and will forgive. In Jesus, God makes wonderful promises. “If we confess our sins he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. The blood of Jesus Christ, God’s Son, purifies us from all sin.” It is never too late, or too soon, to come to him and experience the forgiveness Kalashnikov sought and we all also need to find.

4 replies on “Finding Forgiveness”

It is only now that I have found you. Not in the real sense, I have had coffee and conversation with your folk with my husband Martin. You will be giving me a daily thought and reason to think on the wonder of the Almighty. We are all too often liberal in our understanding ( misunderstanding) of God’s Holy Word. Thank you very much. Is it possible for me to attend Bible studies with you? Jan

Dear Jan

Thank you for your email. I’m glad you find the Thoughts helpful.

I am now involved in an itinerant ministry and do not lead regular Bible studies in the church I attend.

Warmly yours

Peter

Dear Peter
Thank you very much indeed for this regular thought which is very helpful and instructive. May the Lord encourage you in this work and use it for His glory.
I have been writing a weekly newspaper column for our local newspaper since 2000 and was also struck by what I heard about Kalashnikov in the immediate post-Christmas period.
The thing that troubled me to some extent though is your statement about him professing his faith in Jesus Christ as his Saviour. The story reads to me like a desperate tragedy of someone crying out for forgiveness but crying out to the wrong person. At the end of the piece you say that we all need to find the forgiveness that Kalashnikov sought. That indicates a more guarded approach, suggesting he may not have found it. I would be interested to know if you know any more.

Yours in Him

Paul Mackrell

Dear Paul

Thank you for your email and encouragement. Sorry for the slow reply.

It’s great to hear that you have been writing an article in your local paper for 14 years.

You have rightly discerned a cautious note in the article about Kalashnikov. I checked out what is involved in an Orthodox baptism of an adult. It does involve a profession of faith in Jesus as Saviour. I, too, am unsure how much Kalashnikov understood about the Gospel. I agree with your statement that he cried out to the wrong person – the Orthodox clergy would not be any help to him! But I believe that he was awakened to his need to know God and the need to find forgiveness. He was also pointed, however imperfectly, to Jesus who was able to save him. Since I do not know for certain the whole story of what happened in Kalashnikov’s last days I decided to strike a note of certainty that Jesus really is a Saviour of all who call on him to encourage the those who read the article to do the same. I trust that Kalashnikov is now with the Lord and no longer sees in a glass darkly, but face to face.

I trust the Lord will continue to encourage you in writing your weekly article.

Warmly yours

Peter

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