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Two BPC music professors join GBC’s Sons of Jubal on

‘This is my story, this is my song’ Russian mission trip

Jubal Russia trip
Dr. J. Robert White (center), executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, joins Brewton-Parker College representatives, Dr. Glenn Eernisse (left) and Dr. Ben Caston, in front of Smolny Cathedral in St. Petersburg, Russia during the GBC’s Sons of Jubal mission trip last month. Dr. Eernisse is chair of the college’s Division of Music and Dr. Caston is an assistant professor of music. Both men are music ministers.

 

By Kelley M. Arnold

Director of News and Public Information

MOUNT VERNON—Two of Brewton-Parker College’s music professors attended the Georgia Baptist Convention’s Sons of Jubal mission trip to Russia last month. The focus of the 10-day trip was to “strengthen the work of Southern Baptist missionaries in the St. Petersburg and Moscow areas,” reported The Christian Index in its May 10 publication. The theme of the trip was “This is my story, this is my song.”

             

Dr. Ben Caston sings solo
Dr. Ben Caston sings a solo at Mitishi City Baptist Church, near Moscow.

Brewton-Parker College professors, Dr. Glenn Eernisse, chair of the Music Division, and Dr. Ben Caston, assistant professor of music, said this trip’s theme and focus were evident in both the fellowship they shared with the missionaries – “who give all that they have in what they do” – and in the performances, which included a tour of more than 17 venues.   

Most memorable of the performances for Dr. Eernisse was conducting a third of the 114-member group in historic Central Baptist Church in St. Petersburg, a city the size of Atlanta on the country’s Baltic coast. For Dr. Eernisse, the universal language of music surpassed the cultural and spoken language barriers, creating an “indelible memory”.

             

“(At Central Baptist, St. Petersburg), there was a Finnish group visiting at the same time as our performance. In our travels, we found that the hymn, ‘How Great Thou Art’ is well-known in all cultures, and we used this as the invitational hymn. I had the opportunity to lead the song as it was sung in three languages. Also, this church was packed; people were standing all around. It was just an amazing experience that I’ll never forget,” said Dr. Eernisse.

             

Another powerful experience took place at Central Baptist in Moscow, where Dr. Eernisse explains there are portraits on the sanctuary walls of martyrs – from the church’s own congregation – who were persecuted and killed for their faith.

             

“That’s something that you don’t think happens in modern day. We sang an arrangement of Martin Luther’s hymn ‘A Mighty Fortress is our God’,” said Dr. Caston. “The last stanza includes the words: ‘The body they may kill but God’s truth abideth still.’”

             

Sons of Jubal in Smolny Cathedral
The Sons of Jubal rehearse inside Smolny Cathedral. (Photos provided)

Dr. Eernisse points out that evangelical Christians, including Baptists, are considered a “cult” in Russia, where only the Russian Orthodox Church is recognized as a legitimate religion.

             

During the trip, Dr. J. Robert White, executive director of the Georgia Baptist Convention, led a conference based on his book, “Healthy Kingdom Churches”. According to an online report by Jon Duncan, a specialist with the GBC’s Music and Worship Ministries, more than 70 pastors from the northern sector of Russia gathered for the “Healthy Kingdom Church Conference.” Another two-day conference based on music ministry leadership and training was conducted in Moscow, where both BPC professors led classes. More than 100 people from around the country attended this event, reported The Index. Dr. Eernisse led a class on arranging and a conference on instrumental music of the church. Dr. Caston led a master class in voice and trends in church music.

             

Also on the Sons of Jubal itinerary was a performance at the legendary Pushkin Theatre, where more than 700 gathered to hear the sounds and psalms of the Gospel sung in a country that, according to Dr. Caston, appears to be devoid of “hope.”

             

“One of the things that God impressed upon my heart was something that I wrote down after a long day of traveling by metro, bus and walking among the Russian people during rush hour. I wrote: ‘As I walk the streets of this massive city, I sense a lack of hope as I look into the people’s eyes’,” said Dr. Caston. “However, when we sang and when we talked to them, you could see hope returning. The Russian people love gospel music – something we are surrounded by in the U.S.  In Sunday morning worship we sang the congregational hymn, ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’. The men in the choir sang the hymn in English along with the Russians in the congregation who sang it in their own language. It was an amazing experience. We were able to cross cultural boundaries with songs we have known all of our lives.”

             

To learn more about the Sons of Jubal, contact the GBC’s Music and Worship Ministries at 770-936-5264. To learn more about Brewton-Parker College and its Division of Music, contact the Office of Admissions at 912-583-3265.

Brewton-Parker College is the only accredited four-year Christian college in south Georgia. Affiliated with the Georgia Baptist Convention, the college offers 37 majors and 23 minors of study in a caring, Christian environment that nurtures the whole student.

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Updated on: April 15, 2010 8:26 PM