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Friday, February 24, 2006

Concert Outreach in Zavolzha

On February 8 we helped Vadim and Eduard host a Christian concert in Zavolzha. We were able to rent a small hall in a local theater, where every Friday and Saturday there is a discothèque. We brought the Christian worship band “Fools for the King” from Nizhny Novgorod and they provided music for the evening. Eduard and Vadim had done some advertising and the theme of the program was centered on the Christian solution to drug and alcohol addiction.

Karen and I, Nickolai, and an interpreter named Sergei drove Nick’s very small “Oka” automobile to Zavolzha. An Oka is nominally a four person car, but that is really a stretch of the designer’s imagination. The entire car is about 7 feet long. Whoever rides in the back seat is crammed in and has no room to maneuver or stretch. Nick says the car is basically a washing machine with wheels! Despite the small size, there was not enough heat to either keep the windows defrosted or to reach an extra 12 inches into the back seat. Nick and I where comfortably warm in the front and Karen and Sergei in the back seat were numb with the cold.
We arrived in Zavolzha at 4:30 PM, found the theater and watched the band as they practiced for the evening concert. The hall was literally freezing. It was -20F outside and inside it was probably about 35F. There were long heating pipes running along the inside perimeter of the hall and we all sat on them trying to keep warm.

At 6:30 we opened the doors and people began to trickle in. The extreme cold and the Wednesday evening kept the crowd relatively small. We had about 40 people attend plus us and the band. The hall had been set up café style with tables and chairs. Eduard and Vadim had arranged with the bar to have hot tea and cookies available to those attending. The tea was welcomed by everyone as we tried to keep warm.

The band did a 1 hour set of music interspersed with some brief testimony and an explanation of who they where and why they did the music that they did. After the first set we had a young brother come forward and give his testimony. He talked about his life as a drug addict and a thief. At an early age he had begun using drugs and robbing and stealing from people. Finally he was caught, convicted and sent to prison. Prison is a horrible place in Russia. While in Prison this young brother realized his life was a mess and gave his life to Christ. Upon his release he began to attend church, became a disciple and today is a faithful follower of Christ, attending a local Baptist church.

The band played another ½ hour set then Nickolai; our pastor from Nizhny Novgorod preached a short evangelistic message and sang a song. Vadim and Eduard closed out the evening by inviting people to a follow-up meeting that Friday and encouraging them to take literature as they left the hall.

As it turns out, many of the attendees were believers from other local churches. There were about 10 young people who didn’t belong to any local church and we also had two men from a local hospital. These two guys had been to our two movie showings in January where they had publicly repented and asked for prayer. They are both struggling addicts. Eduard has been visiting them in the hospital and they had asked permission to leave the hospital and attend the concert. We are happy to see them both taking positive steps toward freedom. Pray for these two new believers and ask the Lord to give them the needed strengths and courage they will need to continue in their new lives.

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