REPORT: Our Epic Eastern Europe Missions Trip – Spring 2017

Worship Discipleship Ministry in Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Hungary

Hi Friends! Here is our most recent missions report loaded with pics and details. During the month of May 2017, Ivalene and I embarked on an epic worship discipleship trip teaching and doing worship ministry in Ukraine, Bulgaria, and Hungary.

God is on the move!

  • We saw the Lord move powerfully through answered prayer in our times of ministry throughout the entire time we were overseas.
  • This trip affirmed there seems to be an on-going need need for Biblical discipleship – teaching, encouraging and  impartation – in the areas of worship ministry. We were able to meet this need in our own unique way. People were hungry, receptive and appreciative. This was a great blessing!
  • The Holy Spirit truly helped us teach and communicate effectively. We were very encouraged by the feedback from those we were serving.
  • Angels were working overtime to keep us healthy and safe in travel. We faced some challenges and difficulties, but the Lord saw us through every one.
  • The Lord proved himself to be very good!

It was an amazing experience!  This was my 17th (seventeenth) consecutive year ministering in Eastern Europe, our 6th (sixth) international trip together, Ivalene’s first trip to Ukraine and the first trip to Bulgaria for both of us.

Our faith has been elevated and we are so grateful for His provision.

On a very practical note, we are most appreciative of our many friends and family who supported us in prayer and finances.

Here’s a brief recap of how we served.


Week 1 – Ukraine: Music in Worship Conference

The first week, Ivalene and I were part of a team of 8 seminar instructors at the Music In Worship” conference May 4-6 in Kiev presented by Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary.

Who we served at the Music in Worship Conference:

  • Over 250 registered conference participants
  • 27 different cities from all over Ukraine
  • Worship leaders, pastors, musicians, singers – all volunteers
  • Staff of about 40 from UETS
  • 6 Plenary sessions, about 30 seminar breakout sessions over three days

Over 250 Registrations From 27 Cities Throughout Ukraine

Conference Testimonial

“The most important idea I learned from the conference is that I’m not just a musician, I’m part of the kingdom of God, and my task is not just about music but to release the breath of God and His presence. This was a very professional teaching conference – spiritual and very powerful.   Alexander S.

Conference Testimonial

“This was like heaven.
I am pastor of Kharkiv biblical church. This conference was at a high level with high-quality speakers. The materials were fantastic. Much thanks to the organizers. I really want to bring more of the youth from our church next year.” -Vyacheslav K


Ivalene taught two extensive workshops on Children In Worship. My workshops included 3 Songwriting Workshops, a morning main session on Healthy Spiritual Leadership, and seminars on “How To get Your Church to Sing” and “Worship Ministry Blueprint”.


Songwriting Classes

Songwriting Day 1

There was a huge interest in the songwriting seminars and they were all very well attended. Our class even wrote a pretty good song in Ukrainian!

Songwriting: Mindset and Fundamentals

The attendance and energy level at my songwriting workshops was really high.

Testimonial: Songwriting Seminars

I was happy to choose Rob Still seminar where he shared the secrets of writing songs that would touch the hearts of people.  I have really long desired that we had quality Ukrainian songs of worship. It was very useful for me.  Katya S., Kiev


Children in Worship Seminar with Ivalene Still

Children in Worship Seminar

Ivy Teaching – class participation required!

Children in Worship Class

Children in Worship Class Day 1

The Children in Worship class participates!

TESTIMONIAL: Children in Worship Seminar

” I work with children, and personally learned so much from the workshop by Ivalene Johnson Still on this subject. I’ve been doing music and have finished university. But the knowledge given here was useful for beginners and professionals. Really loved the atmosphere and impressed by the level of teachers who work here.” Sonia M, Vinnytsya

Ivalene answers questions

Ivalene answers questions


Our Teaching Team

Our very dignified group of academics and professional musicians …. ? From England and USA.

 

Leadership Team Prayer – an everyday necessity, of course!

 

My good friend Fred Heumann, a regular instructor at UETS, was the visionary behind this conference. Also in this pic is Daria, one of our translators who was a great help to Ivy and me.


Day 2 Morning General Session Devotional “Be Still And Know”

Rob’s morning devotional was on healthy spiritual leadership

Testimonial

We haven’t seen such a high level worship music conference before in Ukraine. The speakers were true professionals. We learned much we did not know in terms of leadership. although we are not new to music. We must attend next year!  Larisa L. 

General Session Day 2

Sharing a passage from the book "RARE Leadership"

Sharing a passage from the book “RARE Leadership”

Day 2 Seminar: “Why Your Church Does Not Sing and What To do About It


Songwriting Class Day 2 – We Start To Write a Song

One good place to start when learning to write worship songs is with a “Scripture song”, setting Biblical text to music. The Psalms lend themselves to this task since they were all song lyrics in the first place.

We used the Ukrainian text for Psalm 136:1 “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever” as a verse and Psalm 150 “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord” as a chorus.

Then we break down the cadence of the syllables and find the natural rhythm of the phrases in Ukrainian. From that we brainstormed (and sought inspiration from Holy Spirit!) for melody ideas. Different members of the class would sing suggestions and we would get feedback.

One 

One of my rules for creative development is “all ideas are good ideas until proven otherwise”. This leads to a safe positive environment where ideas can be created and refined with no criticism or performance anxiety.

Eventually, we crafted the class ideas into a nice little song they thought was great in Ukrainian. That’s the most important thing, to teach, inspire and encourage folks to write freely in their own heart language.


Children in Worship Seminar – Day 2

Ivalene teaching "how to teach" music

Ivalene teaching “how to teach” music fundamentals for children.

Children in Worship – Participants


Seminar: “Worship Ministry Blueprint: A Step By Step Guide to Developing A Vibrant Worship Ministry Whether You Are Starting Out or Starting Over”

Speaking at Music and Worship Conference, Ukraine. Topic: Worship Ministry Blueprint


Leading Worship

Leading worship with Fred Heumann, Steve Thompson and the other instructors for the closing session of the conference.

Playing with Loic, Steve and John from the UK.

Testimonial

What an inspiring atmosphere at the conference! I see how the Lord is moving amongst our people.                                     Katya S

“I saw how the Lord was moving amongst our people.” 

Songwriting Class Shares Ukrainian Song

Our class song was a smash! “LET EVERYTHING THAT HAS BREATH, PRAISE THE LORD!”


We Laughed

We had a panel discussion on worship leading Q&A.

Steve Thompson cracked me up.

My class cracked me up too. The joy of the Lord is our strength!


It’s All About Relationships

Everyone made a lot of new friends, which is part of the point also.

The seminary is an oasis of peace and good will in a very tough country.

 

The joy of the Lord permeated our time together.


Breakfasts were very … nutritional


Practicing Servant Leadership

This is most of the UETS students and faculty who served to put on the conference. A fantastic team building and learning experience for them!

The staff was about 38 UETS students and faculty, plus our team of 8 international instructors.


They prayed for us!

Top: Left side of the room. Bottom: Right side of the room.

At the end of the event, the atmosphere was electric. No one wanted to leave. The participants spontaneously took the microphone and expressed their appreciation for the event and all who had worked to put it on. Then they all prayed for us. It was amazing to experience.


Week 2 – Ukraine: Teach at UETS Seminary

The next week Fred and I were guest lecturers at the Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary, teaching two to three classes daily.

Teaching practical theology of worship.

Practical application of “prayers of the people” using music.

Our wild-n-crazy class pic!


Week 3 – Bulgaria: Worship Workshop Weekend

Our assignment in Bulgaria was to lead a Worship Weekend for a small network of churches and ministries in Silistra (on the Danube River border with Romania). The event was hosted by our friends from SOZO Festival 2004 Marko and Tsetsi Marchenova. We experienced Bulgarian hospitality (and great food!) first hand as we stayed at their apartment.

The workshops were held Friday night, all day Saturday and Saturday night, then concluded on Sunday morning. God is doing a good work there. We also made a great connection with a group of Christian medical doctors and counselors.

They were so excited and are making plans for us to return. They expect the next event will be bigger and better.

This was the poster promoting the worship workshop Ivalene and I were leading in Silistra, Bulgaria.

 

Getting into Silistra Bulgaria is not so easy, but we made it on this plane via Paris and Vienna 🙂

 

Our hosts apartment complex, built during communist era.

 

Our hosts: Pastors Marcho and Tsetsi are in the center, to their right are Vyara nd Koko (daughter and son-in-law, worship leaders) Next to Ivalene is “Mama’, Marcho’s mother.

 

Ivalene got a laugh out of meeting “Pepperoni” the bunny.

 

This is one view of the Silistra, Bulgaria city center.

 

City park in Silistra “prayed in” by intercessors from SOZO Festival some years ago.

 

Dinosaur. This dinosaur replica was handmade by Marko and Tsetsi at great personal investment. Their church hosted a Christian presentation of creation and evolution. The dino is on display at the public library.

 

“Deep Calls to Deep” was the theme of our conference

Koko and Vyara lead the worship team. I had fun playing along with them.

“The teaching was so deep!” said pastor Mark

Teaching on “The Multi-Dimensional Nature of Worship: Worship Changes The Atmosphere”

Worshiping together. The presence of God was so inspiring!

Bulgaria Testimonial

“Many people said that they had never been to a worship seminar in Bulgaria before… or ever (heard) a preacher talk about worship at all.

People in Bulgaria are hungry to know worship. And worship leaders in Bulgaria really need some encouragement, to go deeper, and even for the congregation.

We were so excited when we heard that people [Rob &Ivalene Still] were now coming to teach on worship. It was a phenomenal time. We are so thankful and grateful.”

Koko & Vyara, Worship Leaders in Silistra, Bulgaria

It’s All About Relationships

Our group before crossing the Danube into Romania.


Week 4 – Hungary: Ez Az A Nap Festival, YWAM Coffee House

19 Airports in 10 Countries. Our trip, including connections, involved 13 flights, 19 airports in 19 cities across 10 different countries. Plus buses, car taxis, trains, bicycle taxi’s, and water taxi’s and subways. This pic is over the Swiss Alps, I think.

The metro in Budapest, steep elevator!

On the Metro headed to the YWAM coffeehouse in heart of Budapest. Afterwards, Ivy got a pretty nasty gash on her finger that was a real problem for the rest of the trip. PTL, it’s healed now.

Rezkigio, the coffeehouse ministry of the Youth With A Mission (YWAM) base in Budapest, Hungary.

 

 

This pic is with Steve Johnson, Director of the YWAM base. They have a recording studio roughed in in the basement. I’ve built a few studios …. you knows? Maybe we help them finish theirs.

The coffee house is one of the nicest venues I’ve played in. It was fabulous!

It was great to tell the stories behind the songs. I have a lot of material that has a gospel message but isn’t necessarily for corporate worship.

Sharing in a coffeehouse environment is very different from leading worship. Here, you really have to connect with people through the power of what you are saying, singing and playing.

It’s all about relationships. This is our longtime SOZO friend Marko from Serbia, another worship leader and creative artist. He’s on staff at the YWAM Budapest base.


Ez Az A Nap Festival

The Ez Az A Nap Festival is one of the longest running Christian music events in Europe. Attendance is about 20,000 people. My song “A New Anointing/This Is The Day” is translated as “Ez Az A Nap”.

The main event was preceded by a 24 hour non-stop worship and intercession. I lead worship for the final hour. Quite an honor.

Lazi Prozack recorded my song “A New Anointing/This Is The Day” which is translated as “Ez Az A Nap”.
We sang “Ez Az A Nap” together and it was a real treat. I also led the chorus in Romanian and Russian.

Afterwards Latzi, made some very kind remarks to the audience expressing appreciation from The Ez Az A Nap event our music and ministry.

After that we prayed for folks. One of the major aspects of our ministry trips are the prayers, conversations and meetings that happen out of the spot light and in the margins.


At The Concert

The main event was truly an amazing experience and with fantastic production.

It’s All About Relationships

At the concert, we ran into many (many!) people we knew from our ministry over the years in Hungary.

It’s all about relationships. This is Mattias, a great young Hungarian worship leader. We connected and led worship together at SOZO Festival 2015 in Baja, Hungary. His group was one of the first groups to perform. They were awesome.

It’s all about relationships. This is Matt Edwards, an American missionary / church planter in Hungary and one of the worship leaders at the early SOZO Festivals. He helped translate and record my version of Ez Az A Nap (on The Forerunner album).

It’s all about relationships. These are our gypsy friends from SOZO Festival, Karlos, Ruslan and Ruslan. They help lead Christian ministry in a gypsy camp of Hungarian gypsy’s who live in Ukraine. They speak at least four languages. We have an invitation to go to their camp and do a worship training event. We hope to do that in 2018.

Lessons Learned

  1. A real need for the discipleship training in the area of worship, music, and leadership. It was a great blessing to see the Lord use us in this capacity.
  2. A greater need for mentoring, coaching, and encouragement for church leaders and worship ministry volunteers. [Complicated history and on-going church relationships and leadership dynamics in post communist Europe]
  3. The vital importance of prayer partners. The Lord showed himself great in so many situations!
  4. Financial support from the West is also strategic. [i.e. Ukrainian Evangelical Theological Seminary – scholarships funds needed].

NEXT TRIP INVITATIONS

  1. Israel – October 28 – November 13, 2017
  2. Return to Ukraine Seminary
  3. Gypsy Ministry (Hungarian/Ukrainian) 2018
  4. Romania
  5. Bulgaria – 2018

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Rob Still Ministries also donates books, instruments and other resources. If you would be interested in helping fund our missions trips, you can make a tax deductible donation here.

We serve “the least of these”. Their financial need is great and there are many difficulties for our Christian brothers and sisters around the world. We raise our own support and pay our own travel and expenses. Our work – and theirs – is only possible with God’s grace and your partnership. So, thank you so much for your prayers and financial support! God is changing lives for his glory through our missions projects. We can not go without the help of friends like you!

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