Scotty, Eddie, Billy, Leonard

Russ, Charles

“It was so good to get your email from Sarah and be reminded of the mission trip we had with you to Ukraine back in 1994.  That mission trip was wonderful in many ways, and God used it to bring our faith level up a few steps.  You brought back so many precious memories in your email and I started reflecting in my mind on all of the "God" things that happened while we were there.  I believe the thing that stands out most to me is the incredible courage and boldness you showed when you took advantage of the opportunities that God opened up for us to minister in spontaneous ways.  We were humbled, awed, challenged, and brought to a new level of commitment as a result of that trip.  God has allowed us to continue this ministry and we are so grateful for His mercy, goodness and grace.  You are one of those few very special people that God has allowed us to work with that had a lasting impact on our lives.  I pray God's blessing on you and ISSA.  May you continue to serve Him faithfully.” ~ Billy Goodwin 

When I first met these guys I thought they would be typical entertainers, sort of wrapped up in their successes and notoriety. Boy was I ever wrong! They were some of the hardest working guys I had ever met. They toted heavy equipment around, all pitching in to get each venue set up and working properly. They were extremely flexible when plans inevitably changed. They sang their hearts out in every setting, whether a stadium or a concert (opera) hall, or a church facility, or an open quadrangle at a University campus. Most of the locations were for the express purpose of evangelism, but we had one Wednesday night concert planned for a local church fellowship where I had preached on several occasions and thought that the folks there would enjoy the spirited music and enthusiasm of NewSong. This was a church of about 4,000 members (about half of which were in attendance that night). The very first song they began to sing, the pastor leaned over to me and said, “You need to have them stop clapping and moving around!” I asked if he meant after that song and he said “NO!, right now!” So, I got up and motioned to Eddie Carswell to just stop the song and he suggested they sing a hymn quietly and we would just pack it up. So they did and we did. I think the pastor was as happy to see us go as we were to leave. The next Sunday morning we had scheduled a concert for the entire body of believers there, but I suggested to the guys that we forgo that and head down to the University on that Sunday morning and set up in a grassy area situated between four dormitories. That turned out to be a lot more fun and fruitful (almost 400 students received Christ that day AND the New Song team and I defeated the University basketball team in a pick up game! (But that’s another story). Probably my favorite memory of that trip was in a little village called Dnip (pronounced “deep”) where we drove about 2 hours in the cramped van with musical equipment, Bibles and 8 personnel at the request of a young pastor (Sasha) who had wanted for sometime to get a church started there. We had use of a meeting hall with about 400 seats - formerly communist party headquarters that were in each of the towns (the locals now call them “KGB clubs”). Anyway, this particular place had ancient speakers for a PA system and it seemed that nothing was compatible with any of the equipment that New Song had brought. their sound guy had done wonders in every other venue getting things to sync up, but not here. the group finally abandoned the system and just sang without the mics and mixers. I had asked Russ Lee to share the gospel message at the end of the concert and I would just sit in the back on this one. He did a terrific job of explaining to this group of Ukrainians what Jesus had done on their behalf. Two thirds of the crowd responded to the invitation to take Jesus as their Lord and Savior!! Sasha was overwhelmed by the response and he got so excited that he met with all the new believers and challenged them to be part of the local church that had just been born right then and there. Most agreed and then he asked, “What should we call this fellowship?” And someone yelled out “Novaya Pesnya” and the crowd all resounded “Da!” As we were driving back to Kiev late that night the whole van was animated with excitement over that village called Dnip. The guys were talking about how they had really learned something from the Holy Spirit there. Eddie (I think it was Eddie) made the comment, “that is technically the worst concert we have ever done but boy did the Lord do His work anyway?” Then one of the others said, “Yeah, technically the worst, but in all our years have we ever had a church named after us?” “Wow, what a night!” [Novaya Pesnya, you might have guessed by now is Russian for “New Song”] - Wow indeed. The group was so impressed with Sasha’s motivation and determination to make it out to that village weekly, that they agreed that night to sponsor him at $50.00 per month. I told them to pray about it and let me know tomorrow before saying anything to Sasha because a lot of well meaning short term mission volunteers had in a moment of emotion made a promise to fund this or that, then when getting back home did not follow up. That leaves a lot of explaining on my part to the national that was to be the recipient. So I asked them that if the next day they still wanted to do it, would they commit to one year? The next morning they all enthusiastically said “Da!” And they in fact did faithfully send Sasha’s support, not just $50.00, but $75.00 per month. and not just for one year but for three! You see why I have the utmost respect for these guys. I hardly ever see them, but I have a very soft spot in my heart for them because of their willingness to invest their time, talent and resources in a place most people have never heard of. Of course, now the 10-12 people that visit this website annually will have a new appreciation for them too! bolʹshoe spasibo NewSong! 

Friday, October 21, 1994