When we talk about planting churches in places like Azerbaijan we are actually talking about house churches. This is often due to the political and spiritual climate of the country that makes meeting together in a public location unsafe for believers.
This is why we had never attended or provided a big Christmas celebration for the local community in Azerbaijan. But in September of 2019, Gunay, the youth leader of the Alov Church Network (the network of churches in Azerbaijan that partners with Crossover Global) stepped up and asked us to take responsibility and celebrate Christmas as a public event. Not in a church, but in a public place. Our youth leaders wanted to invite the state government and incorporate Azerbaijan national music and dances into the celebration. We believed that the national dance and music would add a special moment to our celebration and make a good impression on the government officials who attended the celebration.
When she approached us we didn't have a worship team or drama team, not to mention, a location to hold the event. We decided to trust the Lord and let Gunay put together a Christmas celebration.
Gunay began working on the details of the event. She invited professional Christian musicians to do creative worship and shortly after they began rehearsing every day. Gunay also invited dance and drama teams to perform and invited non-believers to help with the national dance and music pieces of the celebration.
Our local house churches divided the weekdays up and each church took a day to fast and pray asking for God to be glorified.
We planned a program for the adults and a separate program for the children. It was our hope that more than 600 adults and 300 children would be able to attend the event and hear the Gospel. This means that we needed to rent a location to fit that many people. We also had the expense of invitations and other materials needed to host this celebration of Christmas. In total we needed $6,000 for the event. We only had some of the money to cover the costs. We prayed and asked God to provide us the funding and He faithfully provided all that was needed.
As we continued the preparations, we made the invitations and invited more than twenty people from the state government and the family of our country’s president to come to the celebration. We posted fliers around town and distributed 1,000 invitations. We did not want to just invite people to the event but we also wanted them to know that Christians in Azerbaijan celebrate Christmas and rejoice at the birth of their Savior.
The day came for the celebration. More than 600 adults and nearly 500 children attended! Everything turned out wonderful. We had a great program for the children and were able to make a Gospel presentation just for them. It was a joy to see so many new people, state government, and an online TV station at the celebration. And more importantly, we know of two people who came to faith because of what God did through this event!
It is our prayer that this will open up ways for us to share the Good News with more people in our beloved country. In fact, we are planning on making our first public celebration of Easter in Azerbaijan and would love for you to join us in prayer for this event.
This story was provided by Crossover Global Executive Director of our Caucasus Base.