No fear to say YES to God!
In 2005, a first youth festival was held in St. Petersburg (Russia). Since then, far more than 500 participants from various countries in the Baltics, Eurasia, and Central Asia were challenged to think about God’s calling for their lives, they were inspired for their ministry, and they were provided with practical ideas and knowledge.
“It’s crucial to realize how important it is to find time for talking with God within one’s daily routine”, said Ivan Perestov, Youth Council Chair of the UMC in Eurasia. His conviction was certainly reinforced by the youth festival “When God calls” that took place in the suburbs of Saint-Petersburg at the end of January 2019 – for the 14th time already. The key theme “Going side by side with Christ” opened a door to see how vital it is to invest time in the relationship with Jesus on a regular basis and not only during some spiritual events.
Every day of this unique event, about 60 young people studied “means of grace” such as reading the Scriptures, prayer, sacraments, and fasting. “We responded to questions, learned spiritual practices, talked a lot and worshiped God”, summarized Ivan Perestov.
Each participant had the opportunity to give an answer to God’s calling – for instance by choosing one of the mission options that will be implemented later this year. But the festival was not only about the individual journey of the participants. The program included, for instance, also opportunities “to support one another and pray a common litany prayer for the peace between Russia and Ukraine”, as Ivan Perestov added.
Natalia Lozak from Lviv had become one of the first participants of a long-term mission after having participated in the youth festival 2018 in Saint-Petersburg. “This event has changed my life. I had attended the three youth festivals before, each time experiencing and encountering God in a new way. The first time I met Him personally, I realized that I couldn’t work in the trade sphere any longer. At that point, I was renting an apartment and couldn’t just say good-bye to my boss. But then I understood that God would satisfy all my needs and take care of me.” She decided to quit her job, and when she got back home, she discovered that new orders for paintings awaited her. “I also got a new job in a Christian kindergarten in our church. God really provided me with work and money throughout the whole year.” During the youth festival 2018, the changes were even greater. “God called me to a long-term mission to Central Asia! And now I’m partaking in the mission and thus feeling the abundance of grace. I am where I am to be, doing what I ought to do, according to God’s will at just the right moment! I’m thankful to God for the youth festival, where I had the chance to hear His calling and say YES!”
Youth Council Chair Ivan Perestov is convinced: “I truly believe that next year, we will continue this wonderful tradition to gather together, inspire one another, worship God and pray for the world during the festival ‘When God is calling 2020’.”
Source: Fund for Mission in Europe / The United Methodist Church in Eurasia