LITTLE ROCK – A group of 83 Arkansas Master'Singers originally scheduled to minister in eastern Ukraine April 21-May 2 have changed their itinerary to western Ukraine because of political unrest in the country. Travel dates remain the same.
"The last month has been a whirlwind of change," said choir director Larry Grayson, Arkansas Baptist State Convention evangelism and church health team member.
"The pastors of the east (in Ukraine) said it would not be wise for us to come at this time, but immediately, pastors from the west said, 'Then come to us. ... We need you!'"
Grayson said he has heard reports from pastors and International Mission Board workers that churches in Ukraine have been packed in the last several months and that God has been moving.
"In a short period of time, new doors were opened, new venues were booked (and) new churches were on board supporting and backing our mission," Grayson said. "Airline tickets were rebooked to west Ukraine and we are ready to go."
While in Ukraine, the group will perform a series of concerts, each of which will be attended by a large number of nonbelievers.
"The Christians are told to bring a nonbeliever as their ticket to get in, and they do just that," Grayson said. "They are given tickets and they bring their guest with their name written on the ticket. Forty percent of the audience will be people who need Jesus."
A prayer team will lift in prayer the names of nonbelievers and interpreters will translate the songs, Grayson said.
"Every word we sing will be translated into their language," he said, "so it will not be a 'musical' experience, but a 'God-speaking' experience."
The gospel will be presented at the end of each concert. Audience members will be asked to write their decisions on their programs and to take them to a particular location after the concert. Local pastors will follow up within a few days.
During a recent preparation meeting for the trip, Master'Singers prayed for the trip, their concerns, the people of Ukraine and their time of ministry. In addition, singers had a time of recommitment.
"Of course, we are keeping a close eye on the events in Ukraine, and I continue to seek wise counsel as each day passes," Grayson said. "As I attended the Baptist Church Music Conference in Dallas (March 30 – April 1) I was humbled to find out that state music leaders from all over the country have had their groups similar to Master'Singers and their churches praying with us in support of our mission. I'm praying that God will be honored and will bless the commitment of my folks who are determined to go as long as God leaves the door open to them."
For more information visit the Master'Singers online at www.arkansasmastersingers.com.