Ministry in Siberia

We continue to work with Vyacheslav Ostankin – a deacon of an Evangelical Lutheran church in Novosibirsk. He writes, “During the last month we visited lots of places, especially children’s institutions for those who are ill with tuberculosis, we also went to prison camps and sat at a committee session discussing release on parole.

Another place I went to was a prison camp outside of the city. It’s a maximum security penal colony in the village of Gornyi in Novosibirsk Region. Last month I continued my visits to the prison camps: a colony for the prisoners who have TB and AIDS. I lead Bible studies there.

We also continue to work with the children’s tuberculosis sanatorium. This past month we bought some Christmas presents for the children and organized some parties to congratulate them with Christmas and New Year. We do similar things for the Regional Antitubercilous Hospital which has more than hundred people.

Thanks to Concordia Foundation help we send out lessons on foundation of Christian faith to prisons and prison camps. We also distributed Biblical calendars and children books Christmas which they really liked. So we are very thankful.

Christmas in Grand Canyon

On January 9th, a theatrical performance Christmas took place on the stage of Fruit of Enlightenment theater in a big shopping mall Grand Canyon with the support of Concordia Foundation.

This play is made as a folk theatrical act based on Russian Christmas carols and hymns.

The play was set like a traditional Nativity Scene only adapted for a large stage. Russian folk songs that people here in Russia would traditionally be singing for Christmas were sung during the play. All music was played live; lots of folk instruments were used: gusli (the oldest Russian multi-string), zhaleiki (Russian single-reed hornpipe plucked instrument), violin, Medieval five-string vielle, kantele, and a nyckelharpa.

So it was a very joyous performance in a style of open-air festival customary to Rus. The audience, which was mostly represented by children, was involved in the performance – alongside with the actors they participated in the khorovods (a combination of the circling dance and a chorus singing) up on the stage.

On the other hand, this play showed the full true meaning of Christ’s birth. The meaning of the Saviour’s coming to this earth was not belittled, but instead intensified, by this merriness.

The actors were able to show this most significant event in the whole history in an easy-to-understand way. They’ve told about Joseph and Mary having to got to Bethlehem for census and of the things that happened to them over there.

The play had such a great effect on the audience that after it was over a lot of the parents together with their children came on to the stage. It was very much like an open-air festival.

With great interest, children looked through the stage gadgets and collected the sparkling glare, and the adults continued to informally converse with the actors. And above all of this, at a distance, as a symbol of the festival, stood Mary and Joseph looking at the baby Jesus.

This play is a joint effort of the theater Traveling Puppets of Mr. Pageout and a folk-group Otava E, and since this project was focused on the preservation of Russian Christian heritage, Concordia Foundation was greatly interested in it.