As I clicked on the car radio recently, I was greeted by the iconic whistling from the intro of Scorpions’ song “Wind of Change.” The song, released as a single in January 1991, not only brought back teenage memories but left me reflecting on and mourning the unfulfilled hopes from three decades ago.
“Wind of Change” was an anthem for my generation. Written by the German rock band’s lead singer Klaus Meine, the song was released just over a year after the fall of the Berlin Wall at a time when the U.S.S.R. was dissolving into history. It proclaimed the hope of a brighter future for the world as the last icy patches of the Cold War were thawing. I can still recall working on a project in my high school art room one day as the song came on the radio and thinking how the lyrics of the chorus, while originally inspired by young people in Moscow, also encompassed us in that Montana classroom:
Take me to the magic of the moment on a glory night
Where the children of tomorrow dream away
In the wind of change
After decades of nuclear fears and communist oppression, change was in the air as the nations of the Soviet Bloc were re-emerging from behind the Iron Curtain. A new world of liberty was being born, and the future was alight with promise for a child of the 90s.
Especially from the limited historical perspective of my generation at that time, this change in world affairs almost seemed inevitable. Meine captures something of this in the song’s bridge:
The wind of change blows straight
Into the face of time
Like a storm wind that will ring
The freedom bell for peace of mind
Listening to “Wind of Change” in 1991, there was little doubt that the freedom bell would continue ringing around the globe — from the U.S.S.R. to Cuba to China.
For all the initial hopes of the early 90s, however, the promises of worldwide freedom and peace have been elusive. This has been abundantly clear in the past couple weeks as Russian forces under the direction of President Vladimir Putin have rolled through Ukraine, killing many and forcing many more to flee as refugees. In the midst of this attack, the Russian government has enacted strict measures against those in their nation who would dare call this action “war.”
It’s a far different scene from the hundreds of thousands of concert-goers in Moscow in 1989, enthusiastic with the hope a new world was dawning, that inspired Meine to write “Wind of Change.”
Indeed, it seems that “wind” has subsided, leaving flags listless in Ukraine, Russia, and beyond.
Yet, there is still hope of a new wind blowing — a wind that is an even greater agent of change than that which was ringing in liberty in the late 80s and early 90s.
The Wind Blows
In John 3 Jesus, speaking with the prominent Jewish leader Nicodemus, says, “The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit” (John 3:8).
The same Greek word — pneuma — lies behind both “wind” and “spirit” in these verses. And there is no doubt the wind of the Spirit is still blowing, for His wind is always blowing everywhere.
The effects of this Wind can be seen in Ukraine. As of 2019, according to the Pew Research Center, some 78 percent of Ukrainians claimed to be Orthodox Christians, double the 39 percent from 1991, the year the U.S.S.R. fell. Another 10 percent identify as Roman Catholic, and while only about 2 percent of the nation identifies as Evangelical Christians, they too have had a significant influence in Ukrainian society.1
Most of us have seen reports of our Ukrainian brothers and sisters in Christ boldly continuing to worship together, even as bombs rain from the sky. While things look bleak in Ukraine from a human perspective, God’s Holy Spirit is still at work.
In the spring of 2021, Pavel Unguryan, coordinator of Ukraine’s National Prayer Breakfast, said, “Today, as never before, our nation needs unity, peace, and the authority of God’s Word.”2
In the face of invasion, these needs are as great as ever.
We pray for the wind of the Holy Spirit’s change for our fellow Christ-followers in Ukraine and for their embattled nation.