What does it take for God to perform a miracle for the ages?
A marching band.
An empty cultural palace with dungeons in the basement.
A broken-down tour bus.
A troupe of wildly-dressed dancers.
A stage, lights, and sound system tuned for the local rock star.
National Guard troops eager to keep the peace.
Sixty American men and supporters prepared to sing in English.
Fifteen Romanian men ready to join.
Seventy Ukrainian men vocalizing in Ukrainian.
A flock of protesters and supporters bearing signs.
Authorities demanding that all Protestants be quieted.
A choir program featuring the Gospel.
Everyone arriving at the same time.
And God - in the center of it all – in the Ukrainian port city of Mariupol.
The Oregon Adventist Men’s Choir had agreed to spend two weeks in the Ukraine singing about God, and that meant The Devil and God were going to war.
The director got sick the week before the tour and could hardly talk.
Separatist militias were restricting religious freedom, bringing many Ukrainian Adventists to pray intensely regarding the choir’s visit.
Then, on the evening of the performance, God stepped into the melee, directing almost every passer-by through the marching band, beyond the dancers, to the main doors of the newly-scrubbed cultural palace.
“They came by the score, and sometimes the hundreds, pressing through the giant doors into a historic auditorium that had been readied ‘just in time’ for this event. It was as if they were being drawn by God to the very place He wanted them to be.”
In the street there were many people who asked if there was not an extra ticket to get into the concert. But, there were no more spaces.
“I couldn’t believe how many people came into the hall. By the time we were singing The Prayer for the Ukraine, it was person-to-person, far tighter than standing room only!”
Yaroslav Rudnytsky, violinist and concertmaster for the performances, said, “As a citizen of the Ukraine, I could not be more grateful to you, for your willingness to help those who have been engulfed in the flames of a raging war.”
The choir put on eight concerts in eight cities, traveling hundreds of miles to meet the appointments and spending many hours talking to new friends in a wild combination of English/Ukrainian/Romanian/French – and even some Spanish.
One Seventh-day Adventist Ukrainian pastor, Sergei, said that he knew God pulled him to become part of this choir, not just for the music, but for the Christian service opportunities the experience would open for him in his city.
Each concert included The Battle Hymn of the Republic, performed in English by the 160 people in the orchestra and combined choir.
“Oh, how they loved that song. Many stood and sang it with us, as if it were a spiritual national anthem they wanted to claim as their own.”
As the “Battle Hymn” applause died down in the Mariupol cultural palace, someone stood and shouted for the choir to “sing it again.” His voice was quickly echoed by everyone else in the palace. “Sing it again! Sing it again!” they cried. And the choir complied, singing together with the crowd, singing with new energy and hope.
“A concert like this was never before seen in our city,” said one of the local pastors. “It has changed how people see Protestants and Seventh-day Adventists. You came, and we are more in harmony with each other and with God. It is a great victory for Him.”
The choral conductor from the Ukraine, summarized God’s miracle clearly. “This is only the beginning of something that is even greater! You must return soon!”