With all the sadness coming out of Ukraine and Russia, it’s good to note some remarkable and good things involving the people of those countries. Both countries are steeped in about 2,000 years of Christianity. Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints live in both countries so we prayerfully hope for peace.
We know Russia and Ukraine have a special place in the Restoration. In 1843 Joseph Smith called Elder Hyde and Elder Adams on missions to Russia with the declaration they were going to the people of that vast empire to which, “is attached some of the most important things concerning the advancement and building up of the kingdom of God in the last days…”
While reflecting on what can help everyone in harm’s way, I received a photo of a unique painting by Brent Borup of the resurrected Savior in Russia. Just what we all need – a focus on having the Savior’s peace in this troubled area that can soothe the soul. While Brent has created many excellent paintings of Christ, this one is so timely, and so different and should have a special place in the restoration art galleries.
I called Brent to ask him what inspired this breakthrough art:
Mark: Thank you for sharing your talent with all of us. You have some history with Russia. Please share with us:
Brent: When I was a kid I was absolutely scared of Russians. Growing up in the eighties, I learned from the media and pop culture that they all wanted to attack us and blow us up. They really did scare me. Deep down, I think I knew that this fear was irrational and unjustified. How could a whole country be that bad?
I decided I wanted to visit Russia for myself. After the fall of the Soviet Union, I did just that. With the help of my amazing parents, my 17-year-old self, got on an airplane all alone and traveled to the other side of the world to confront my fears.
I had an amazing opportunity that allowed me to confront many irrational fears and helped me grow intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. My eyes were opened to the good in the world. I was able to travel with Heart of Russia Cruises (it had a different name then) and they created the most authentic and life-changing program of Americans meeting Russians. They helped me meet Russians my own age.
Mark: So, you met some Russian teens? Did they have a different view of the USA?
Brent: Yes. I remember talking to one boy, and he told me that growing up they were taught that things were scarce because the whole world was still recovering from WWII, but that everybody else was in worse shape. Their communist government told them many lies.
I learned that the people of Russia were ordinary people, who were struggling, and they didn’t hate us. In fact, I saw a lot of light and hope in their faces.
Mark: Any paintings have a profound influence on this new painting of yours?
Brent: Yes. Years ago I had created a portrait of Jesus Christ that had scenery from near my own home. I thought about how it was more meaningful to me thinking about the Resurrected Christ walking through Preston, Idaho. Since then I have been pondering how I can make similar paintings that could be more meaningful for others. A few years ago I came across the painting Holy Rus’ by the old Russian master Mikhail Nesterov. I read the backstory about how Jesus had visited the ancient people of Russia after his Resurrection. Of course, growing up with stories from the Book of Mormon, about how Jesus Christ visited people on the American Continent, this seemed extremely interesting, but to be honest, that’s not what inspired me to make this painting. It wasn’t the connection with the past that I wanted to focus on, it was Christ’s relation with the future of Russia. I feel like Nesterov’s painting has the potential to do for Eastern Europeans what my “Preston Idaho” painting does for me; it helps me feel a little closer to Christ. That’s what really attracted me to it, and that’s what I wanted to focus on with my painting.
Mark: It’s a beautiful painting not only from artistic skill but because you’ve captured the feeling of Nesterov and other Orthodox artists.
Brent: Thank you Mark, I have always admired the skill and style of the Russian painters, both modern and from years past, so I guess I was trying to mimic their style somewhat. Also, I felt it important to portray Christ as strong and confident, full of hope for the future. When I was in Russia, I met members of my church. I toured the Russian cathedrals and saw the paintings of Christ that had been preserved. Years later, I began to hear many stories about the growth of the church in Russia, miracles that are happening in that land, lost tribes being found, stories that have been passed down for two thousand years about Christ visiting the peasants of Siberia; many amazing stories. I have a feeling that the good people of Russia will have a different part to play in the winding up scenes before the Second Coming of Christ, and in a good way. There is so much good in the world wherever you look, and it is so very sad that a handful of evil men can influence so many in such a bad way.
There are so many innocent sons and daughters of God who are scared and desperate. Some feel like they have no freedom to make their own choices, some are fighting for that freedom, and many of them look to Christ to feel peace. Pray that they might find it.
The goodness of a people focused on Christ can outshine the darkness that is pressed upon them.
Mark: Thank you Brent. It was a pleasure to have you cruise with us. Where can our readers see more of your work?Brent: Just go to www.BrentBorup.com I’d love to hear from your readers.
A NOTE FROM SCOT AND MAURINE PROCTOR ON A CHANGE OF VENUE FOR OUR 2022 HEART OF RUSSIA CRUISE:
By now it has become obvious that our unique Russia cruise is no longer possible in 2022. This interview helps to understand why.
However, we enthusiastically invite you to join a most remarkable, self-selected group of people who have signed up for our unique travel adventure to a different but amazing “bucket-list” experience this year and we hope you’ll join us.
Eric, Mark and Elizabeth Stoddard (who organize and lead the Russia cruises) have been to this unique “bucket-list” cruise and suggested we lead a small group to the Dalmatian Coast on the Adriatic Sea just east of Italy and belonging to Croatia – a Heart of Croatia Cruise and Tour. Three dates in August, 2022.
This is a pristine area, stunningly beautiful, and just begging to be visited. Ever since we first discovered this amazingly beautiful land we’ve desired to return.
We have also been there and were very enthusiastic about the chance to return when they suggested the possibility to us just two weeks ago. The Roman empire caesars and noble class vacationed here in ancient times and you’ll see why. It has a Slavic flavor and is just now becoming a destination for people’s bucket lists from all over the world.
They’ve found a deluxe beautiful yacht that holds 40 passengers. It gives us the chance to really go and explore this historic, beautiful land. Please take a look at what we’ve put together for you and see if it is something that could satisfy your desire to not only travel in 2022, but to travel with this amazing group that had desired to be together on a high adventure.
Here are a few highlights:
- Unique, off-the-beaten-path-destinations with breath-taking beauty with natural wonders you can explore with the small group or on your own.
- Historically rich with Roman and Byzantine ruins.
- Opportunities to meet the Latter-day-Saints who live in this stunning land,
- Cruising in a small group on a yacht reserved for just our group,
- Travel with the Proctor & the Stoddards and an on-board native specialist.
- Classical musicians in the evenings.
- Water sports – jet skies (right off the yacht), snorkeling, fishing, etc.
- The option to extend in Italy or Greece,
The yacht is filling quickly and the hotels are nearly sold out, so we need to hear from you this week. Their website provides similar details and photos of our route & yacht – check it out at BucketListCruisesandTours.com