“It was an oppressive experience. We couldn’t wait to get out of there.”
And he almost didn’t, Pastor Robert Jeffress tells host Dr. Steve Greene on a recent episode of the Greenelines podcast on the Charisma Podcast Network. During the Cold War era, he served as a youth director, and he and his wife took their youth group on a mission trip to the former Soviet Union.
“We were going to depart Moscow at midnight for a flight to Rome,” Jeffress says. “And so we got to the airport. And as the leader, I sent all the kids and sponsors through passport control first … And so I was the last one to go through. And I reached for my passport, and I couldn’t find it. I mean, I was frantically searching my pants pockets, my coat pockets. They were calling our flight.
“I explained to the Soviet guard that I was the leader, and I needed to get through,” he says. “He couldn’t have cared less: ‘No passport, no departure.’ And my wife—we had just been married one year—she was on the other side, she’d gone through, and she started crying, imagining me in a Russian gulag for life.
“And at the very last moment, a friend who was standing with her started laughing, reached into his pocket and pulled out my passport,” Jeffress says. “He had taken it as a joke. … I never will forget the relief I felt when I went through that turnstile to a place of freedom, because I had the right passport.”
Jeffress reminds listeners, “The Bible says that there be many people in the judgment, they will try to argue with God that they ought to be allowed into heaven, ‘Did we not perform miracles and cast out demons?’ and Jesus will say, ‘Depart from me; I never knew you.’
“And that’s why it’s so important that we have the right passport to get into heaven,” Jeffress says. “It’s not a passport that’s stamped ‘Catholic’ or ‘charismatic’ or ‘Baptist’ or ‘Methodist.’ The only passport that will get you into heaven is one that is stamped ‘forgiven’ by Jesus Christ.”
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