Brightly Burning Lights

It might appear that there isn’t much reason for hope or joy in the former Soviet Union.

Summertime violence continued to rock the Northern Caucasus.

The global economic crisis has hit the former Soviet Union hard.

The once wide-open door for the gospel is slowly closing in Russia.

Several years ago, city officials in Moscow seized the prime property of a protestant church for no reason or cause.

Church members decided to fight city hall to get their property back. But the old adage that you can’t fight city hall proved true—two pastors of the church spent five days in jail for picketing the Moscow mayor’s office.

In Moldova, when the communist party declared victory in the April general election, students stormed the parliament in the capital city of Chisinau, and rioting broke out on the streets.

At the end of July, Moldovans returned to the polls in a rerun of April, but with different results: the ruling communist party lost its majority in parliament.

As politicians talk about alliances and decry violence, young Next Generation Christians burn brightly for Jesus, and bring His hope to a lost and restless generation across the former Soviet Union.

Nowhere is this more evident than in Moldova—one of the poorest countries in Europe.

There, young Next Generation Christians gathered for the third annual Lighter Youth Arts Festival at the end of August. Originally intended as a music festival, the festival quickly expanded to include other arts.

At Lighter 2009, these young Christian artists performed original works, ranging from hip-hop, to rap, poetry, theater, dance and video.

The art festival not only provided an outlet of creative expression for these young artists, but also provided a place where young Christians, after a full summer of ministry, could relax, exchange ideas and draw closer to God.

Young musicians from various churches united to help lead in worship during the festival. These morning and evening worship times were a balm to many creative souls.

The second day of the festival, Zhenya softly admitted, “This summer I worked with deaf children. As I saw their suffering, I shut God out. I didn’t understand why He allowed these children to live their whole lives without hearing the wonderful sounds of music. For two months, I didn’t pray. It was as if something inside of me had broken. But when I came here, God calmed my heart, and now it sings again.” After sharing this testimony, she performed an original work, signing as she sang.

Dima leads a club ministry at a church in Chisinau. At the festival, Dima slowed down and discovered new strength for serving Christ. Anya, who just turned to Christ a month ago, said, “At this festival I met young people who are so open and friendly that I received an unforgettable jolt of energy. I decided to start music lessons this year because I want to learn to create…”

Forty of these young artists committed themselves to deeper ministry, and expressed a desire to participate in events and projects that help people living with HIV/AIDS, children with cancer as well as other at-risk adults and children.