Georgia Training, Translation Accomplished Despite Stifling Heat
Intense heat, health issues and technology challenges did not stop God from using MIWC associate Serhiy Bilokin's trip to the country of Georgia this summer.
Bilokin's main focus during the trip was continuing his work developing songs for the Georgian people to use in their church services. This includes writing texts for congregations to sing, as well as compiling a choral collection for students and small groups.
The availability of translators limited his productive work time. The only person able to help was Giya, the son-in-law of the head of the Georgia Baptist Churches (Read more about Pastor Levan here.) But Giya's load was burdened by his new youth ministry leadership position - he was elected the Georgia Baptist Churches' youth leader shortly before the Bilokins arrived.
Upon the couple's arrival, Giya informed them they were needed to plan the music program for the Georgia Baptist Churches' very first national youth conference, which was occurring during their visit.
The event aimed to inspire youth to outreach ministry, help them understand the power of God, show them how youth can be effective in ministry, and challenge them on what they might do for Christ.
"The idea was also to show them different ways in which music of several types - from traditional to contemporary - played a role in ministry, and how both types of music could be used in balance," said Serhiy Bilokin.
"We also shared about the fundamental biblical principles related to the use of music overall in ministry."
Bilokin marveled at the number of teenagers in attendance and said, "After the services, they came and shared with me that this was the first time that the guitar could be used in a way that could glorify the Lord."
Pastor Levan told Bilokin he was happy the youth could see excellent examples of musicians in person and not just learn from the pop culture that they see on television.
While the Bilokins were busy preparing a choir, congregational singing and a praise team (which included guitar, vocal solo, electric bass and keyboard), they also needed to spend a significant time on the original reason for their visit - creating and translating music for the Georgia churches.
The Bilokins' 18-day trip occurred during a period of inescapable heat. The intense temperatures only seemed to add a feeling of despair to how much work needed to be done in the Georgian churches by ministry leaders who are already exhausted by their workloads. Concern and worry abounded.
During the days, Bilokin worked on printed music and provided vocal training for the youth, and in the evening, he held rehearsals for choral groups and recorded new instrumental songs in the study. Pastor Levan tasked Bilokin and his wife with providing high quality models of sacred music for choirs, vocal-instrumental ensembles and for congregational singing.
Some people were available for short times in the evening, as well, which the Bilokins took advantage of by including scripture study and music practice in the time.
Computer problems also plagued them on the trip, creating frustrating moments that were only compounded by ongoing health and weather issues.
"In all of these [issues]," Bilokin said, "We saw that the enemy is raging, but the Lord gave us understanding and strength to pray and make it to the end...We can say that all went well and we are thankful to God for the experience."