I’m reporting on my epic Balkans missions trip in a trilogy of posts, chock full of media with photos, links and videos throughout.
This first post is quite in-depth about SOZO Festival held in Novi Sad, Serbia. I served here as Director of Worship and Seminar Instructor during the first week of the trip (July 22-29).
I think there were about 80 folks from 26 nations serving as staff. Participants attending the seminars numbered a couple of hundred. At it’s peak, attendance at the outreach concerts numbered under a thousand.
As staff, we were quite busy working on set-up and planning from our arrival Monday afternoon until the event officially opened on Wednesday night.
“SOZO” is Greek word that means salvation, healing and deliverance. That’s what we are part of doing in the Balkans.
I’ve organized this report around four major components of SOZO Festival: worship, training seminars, outreach concerts and fellowship.
I also share some insider scoop in a few never-seen-before “SOZO Behind The Scenes” videos.
Worship & Word
After our Wednesday night opening ceremony, we began each day with worship and a time of reporting what God was doing among the nations.
It is is amazing, inspiring and eye opening to worship with so many people “not like you”, from diverse cultures and languages.
Read my other blog posts on SOZO worship:
- July 29 Worship Recap, SOZO Festival Novi Sad, Serbia!
- How To Lead Multi-national Worship: 7 Tips From SOZO Festival
[VIDEO] SOZO BEHIND THE SCENES: Reflections on “The SOZO Spirit”.
In this video, folks from many nations share about “The SOZO Spirit”, the worship experience, and Children’s School of Worship.
We had a busy schedule packed with meetings, worship, seminars and outreach concerts.
Seminars offered & leaders:
The training seminars are a huge part of SOZO. During the day, participants could attend a variety of classes to be equipped in these areas:
- Counseling / Addiction Recovery – Linda Woodsmall, Tami Walker
- Leadership Development – Dennis Woodsmall, Herman Bouhouzen
- Cultural Intelligence – David Durham
- Worship Theology and Leadership – Rob Still
- Youth Explosion – Andy & Samm Cheesman
- Children’s School of Worship - Rachel Mello, Lydia & team
Children’s School of Worship
My wife Ivalene has taught CSW several years, she gave Rachel some coaching and ideas. It was a blessing to see the fruit of her labors!
Evening Outreach Events
Cafe Sozo (6:00 – 8:00 pm)
Cafe Sozo is a casual, intimate “open mic” coffee bar with snacks. Performers from all over the world share songs and stories. Lots of fellowship is built up here.
The Strand (Danube River Beach, 8:00 pm – 10:00 pm )
The Strand was a big stage with pro sound and lites with the first ever public gospel music concerts on the beach recreational area on the Danube River. Music offerings included Christian rock bands, Christian pop, acoustic singer-songwriters, church worship teams and awesome gospel choirs.
Crowds would reach about a thousand to hear music glorifying Jesus.
Local Press Coverage
[VIDEO] SOZO Gospel Choir “King of Glory“
Read the “King of Glory ” blog post here.
Route 66 (After hours club, 10:00pm – 2:00 am)
Music groups performed from all over eastern Europe including Christian heavy rock bands, blues, pop, acoustic singer-songwriters, and the SOZO gospel choir.
[Video] Team 4D Boldly proclaiming the gospel in the bar!
I love these guys and girls in Team 4D from the Czech Republic! They were bold about the gospel of Jesus, an awesome band, wonderful people and greatly contributed to our worship teams! Check out this video excerpt.
SOZO Gospel Choir with Darijo Sehic
Fellowship: SOZO Behind The Scenes
[VIDEO] SOZO BEHIND THE SCENES: Lots of walking.
In this video, I take you on the walk from our dorms to the location of the worship and seminars. You see the beautiful streets of Novi Sad and the people.
In this pic the gathered staff is praying before a bar-b-cue the night before the event launches. You get to meet so many cool people from other nations!
There is a big traditional homemade lunch for the staff everyday.
Ana’s family is from Romania and has been to every SOZO Festival. The SOZO clan gathered on the Danube to worship and be part of it. It was so beautiful to see her baptized by her father, Levi. He’s my favorite SOZO drummer!
Learning About New Cultures & Languages
During this cab ride in Novi Sad, Dave Durham and I discuss “How To Learn Another Language” (blog post link)
[VIDEO] How To Study Languages: In the Cab with David Durham
[VIDEO] SOZO BEHIND THE SCENES : There’s tired, then there’s SOZO tired.
In this video I grab a few seconds at The Strand with Dennis & Linda Woodsmall, seminar instructors. We’re shouting above a Serbian christian pop band about the invigorating and intense Sozo pace.
There’s tired, and then there’s SOZO tired.
It seemed a miracle that we had SOZO Festival back in the Balkans, after a long hiatus from eastern Europe. (SOZO was held in England the last 3 years).
The attendance was good, especially at the outreach events. The spirit was awesome.
One participant declared on Facebook “best festival ever, city & people & God!”
The people of eastern Europe pulled together with SOZO founder Randall Morgan and made it happen.
God is doing something here. It’s messy, difficult, strenuous and beautiful. I’m excited to see it first hand.
Thanks be to God!
You can help send me on the next mission trip to Sri Lanka, find out more.
Stay in the loop! :
See my other posts in this Balkans Missions trip series.