American Gathers Thousands of Evangelicals in Kyiv
RISU’s Ukrainian-language site posted the text of Kyiv correspondent Vasyl Korshak on 9 July 2007.
Kyiv - For probably the first time since Ukrainian independence, thousands of Evangelical Christians of various denominations gathered together. They took part in the “Festival of Hope” from 6 to 8 July 2007 in the Olympic National Sports Complex in Kyiv. They came there to meet and listen to the preaching of famous American evangelist Franklin Graham. He is the president of the international charitable organization Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
One of the organizers of the festival was the Renaissance Christian Center, which, according to the founders, aims to spread the Good News about Jesus Christ. The Renaissance Christian Center has been functioning in Ukraine since 2004. Now Renaissance has organized this new, large-scale project with the support of 4,250 Evangelical churches of Ukraine.
The “Festival of Hope” has already taken place for a number of years in various countries of the world. In Ukraine it was held for the first time. This year similar festivals will take place in China, the U.S., Ecuador, and other countries.
Numerous guests of the festival could hear testimonies of faith by famous athletes, leaders of Evangelical churches, and civil leaders. Also, there were musical groups of various genres from Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova, and the U.S., and the preaching of Franklin Graham. Satellite transmission of the festival was available in 75 halls in various regions of Ukraine.
The festival started with the singing of a united choir of Ukrainian churches. More than 3000 singers were directed by Serhii Iandola. The organizers provided translations into English for foreign guests and a translation into sign language for the deaf, not only of speeches but also of songs.
After a few musical numbers on religious themes by Ukrainian, Moldovan, Russian, and American artists, Viacheslav Nesteruk, president of the All-Ukraine Union of the Association of Evangelical Baptists, led a prayer. Many leaders of Protestant churches of Ukraine, Hryhorii Komendant, president of the Ukrainian Bible Society, and famous civic activists could be seen on the stage.
Oleksandr Sahan, advisor at the Secretariat of the President of Ukraine on matters of religion, read greetings from President Viktor Yuschenko. The president said in his greetings that the “Festival of Hope” is a very important civic event, leading to a renaissance of spirituality and propagating tolerance and respect in society.
“I sincerely appreciate that social work that you do. Dozens of rehabilitation centers, orphanages, and charitable soup kitchens are supported by Evangelical churches. Your humanitarian programs support many people with special needs, orphans, families with many children, and others in need. Propagating a healthy life style and looking for understanding among people, you give hope for a good future. I wish the organizers, participants, and guests of the festival fruitful work, interesting meetings, and success in your activity. May God bless Ukraine,” read the greeting of the president.
The story of the life and path to the Lord of Stefan Reshko, famous soccer player, a member of Dynamo Kyiv, and frequent champion of the USSR, including a bronze medal in the 1976 Olympic Games, was presented to the attendees.
After an account and short video about preacher and philanthropist Franklin Graham, he himself preached. His preaching was based on the third chapter of the Gospel of John in which Jesus talks with Nicodemus about “birth from above.” The preacher invited everyone to admit their sins before the living God and ask him for forgiveness and to accept with faith Jesus into their hearts.
The organizers of the “Festival of Hope” are planning to repeat the event next year, hoping that they will spread the Good News among thousands of Ukrainians.
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