Sunday, June 11, 2017

Sabbath Blessings

Three Ukrainian singers rehearse on the bus - Great sounds from them!!

What a blessed Sabbath this has been for many today, from the singers to concert attendees and many, many more.

On the three-hour bus ride from Poltava to the city of Kharkiv, I had the opportunity to talk with two Ukrainian singers/pastors on this mission to get their take on what exactly they think this mission is all about. What follows are thoughts that they shared with me.

One of the hopes they have from this tour is that it will change the view of the public, that Seventh-day Adventists are not a cult, as has been the perception at times. The other interesting comment is that Ukraine’s current President has been pushing for their country to celebrate the 500th anniversary of The Protestant Reformation.

At church today, the pastor made this comment regarding our music ministry:  "Let's listen to the music to help Ukraine come together." They see these concerts as a way of promoting peace in their country and giving hope to all, but especially those 1.5 million people who have fled from eastern Ukraine where the conflict still wages, to the west side of the country.

We were told there were people at Friday night’s concert who recently fled their homes and that potentially many others may be in attendance at our future concerts this week. Please pray that the Holy Spirit would lead these people to these special concerts.

And just how are people learning about the concerts? Through a variety of means, including posters, Facebook and other social media, flyers handed out by SDA church members as well as their own website which you can find here:

The main words on the front page say, in Cyrillic, "Let's pray for peace."

The Ukrainian singers I spoke with this morning said that for many of their guys, this is the first time for many of them to sing in such a large men's choir and they are very thrilled about it!  

They also said that Ukrainians are interested in Americans coming to perform versus just hearing their own people singing.

I also talked with Sergy, the pastor who was held for 20 days in 2014, and he said that after the Friday concert a woman approached him to let him know that she was so happy to hear such beautiful music and that she'd never heard anything like it.

Dima, another Ukrainian singer, told me that some SDA folk brought an alcohol and drug rehab group to the concert and that they were very blessed to attend!! How awesome that God arranged for that to happen?  

As Dima was telling me that story, one of our OAMC members overheard our conversation and how happy and inspired he was to hear this, as he had battled alcohol addiction for many, many years, but now has been sober for several years!!

God knew that the rehab group needed to come to the concert and that in turn our OAMC brother needed to hear how they were blessed by his coming on this long journey. This is mission. It is about more than just the music!

Hotel we stayed in Friday night.
Our fabulous sewing crew and all around choir "moms". Winnie, Mary Joe and Jane.

Countryside view on our way to Kharkiv

Concert hall in Kharkiv and where we had church as well today.

The lineup getting ready to go on stage to share in the Divine worship service.

Driving to lunch after church.

Ukrainian flag on the left

Arriving at Kharkiv SDA church for lunch, we were met by this young lady showing off a traditional loaf of bread. The pastor’s wife made this! Amazing!

Pastor of Kharkiv church (left) thanking us for coming to Ukraine. Pastor Alex serves as interpreter.

After the concert this (Sabbath) evening. Vladimir (second from left), hadn't seen his brother (left) in 11 years. Vladimir's brother took the train from Russia to see Vladimir perform today. What a sweet reunion it was to see these brothers reunite!! Others on the right were so grateful we came and sang!

Orthodox Church 

I'll conclude with one last testimony of why we are here. Is it just to tour Ukraine? No! God's mission is slowly, daily unfolding and our job is to be available for the Holy Spirit to work in and through us not only through song, but through one-on-one contacts.

A Ukrainian young man named Artyom was telling me that after our supper at a local restaurant, a young man stopped him on the street and inquired why we were all dressed alike in suits with yellow ties. Artyom answered that we were part of a choir, and then kept walking past the man. About 10 feet away, he felt God impressing him that this was a witnessing opportunity. Artyom went back to the young man to further explain that we are a Christian men's choir at which point the the man expressed interest in learning more. So Artyom gave him a flyer about our final concert in Kiev next Sabbath and that it will be broadcast on Hope Channel. The young man said he will watch it!  Praise the Lord! 

So these are just a few examples of why we are here. For peace and to demonstrate God's love and compassion to the beautiful people of Ukraine!

Keep praying, please, for our mission here.

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