Thank you for the interest you have shown us, not only in the ministry of music but in the international ministry the Lord has opened to us in the last several years.
We appreciate very much the generous support churches
have provided for the people of Russia and Albania, who are struggling so hard
for the welfare of their countries and the opportunity to share the Gospel of
Christ. We had a beautiful letter from Albania this past Easter vividly
describing the efforts of an elderly lady to go to church. She was in her
nineties and so ill that she fell several times as she walked some distance to
the Easter service. Our dear friend Faith, a missionary to her remote village,
told her that her husband would have been happy to take Communion to her home so
that she could have shared in the Easter joy without so much difficulty. But,
like so many in Albania, this dear lady found it impossible to miss the joy of
corporate worship--of sharing together in the elation of the first Easter
services in her town in fifty years.
Letters and stories like this one thrill us, and we know
that our brothers and sisters in American congregations are thrilled also to
know of the perseverance of Christians under the most difficult conditions--such
as we have been fortunate not to have experienced in our blessed country.
Romans 8:28 has been experienced by these few brave Christians--for fifty to
seventy-five years of oppression and hardship! And their stories assure us
that God's grace is sufficient for whatever difficulties life presents to
us--and whatever difficulties our own nation may face in years ahead--provided
we rely upon that grace, abiding in Christ.
In this century in particular, Russia has appeared to
Americans as a problem and a threat--and there are great problems and dangers
surrounding Russia at this time. But more than that, Russia today is a gift and
an opportunity. Its ancient experience of Christianity offers profound
understanding of the Gospel, sealed by the blood of countless martyrs--more of
whom died for Christ in this century than in the first centuries of
If Russia offers depth and vision to American Christianity, so we Americans have for Russia the gift of Christian experience lived in a free society, such as many in Russia hope to attain. We have shared in that experience with other "free world" countries, whom Russian Christians had not been privileged, until recently, to know.
Now is the time for the exchange of our gifts.
Now is the time. Russia stands at an historic
crossroads, and it follows that the entire world stands at a crossroads as
well. On the one hand, Russian economic and social upheaval has opened the door
for gangsters, political extremists, and would-be tyrants, who could usher in a
terrible new dark age. Russians are already calling this moment in history a
second "Time of Troubles", as dangerous in their minds as the first such
period, when there was no secure leadership, but violent lawlessness. The
influence of gangsters in Russia has already reached our shores; the suffering
of Russia threatens to spread throughout the world.
On the other hand, by the grace of God forces of renewal of an equally historic importance are at work. And these forces may well affect the future of the entire world in a positive way. For example, there are churches working to train Bible teachers, to serve the suffering, to reach out to the youth and all society with the saving message of Christ. These brothers and sisters in Christ continue to be in danger and operate at extreme personal sacrifice.
But their joyful spirit has already begun to infect
other nations, and to inspire America with the vitality of the Gospel. We have
met courageous Christian leaders who suffered willingly for their faith,
interviewing those who, under Communism, were incarcerated in gulags and
psychiatric prisons. We have communicated to Russian public schools, military
academies, hospitals, and churches American love--and respect--through concerts
and talks in Moscow and its surrounding areas. We've been invited to expand our
visits to St. Petersburg and cities in Siberia. In addition, we are now
sponsoring visits to American churches and conferences by Russian speakers and
As the Russian nation continues to be birthed, not now
based upon Communism but upon political pluralism, a free-market economy, and
religious tolerance, Russian and American fraternal dialogue and evangelical
cooperation becomes more and more significant. The conflict in Russia is not
over, but has just begun. Our presence and continued support says to the
"resurrected" churches, "You are not alone, and we will not stand by while your
good work is sabotaged."
We believe that just as the patient endurance of
martyrdom by Russians in our time constitutes an historic sign of the power of
the Cross, so too the new, renewed Christian work, rooted in the Gospels and in
the long history of the Russian Church, can and will be an unprecedented sign of
the power of the Resurrection in history and for our time. But we also feel
that it is God's will that this victory can only be realized through the
cooperation of all His people--including faithful Americans.
WHAT WE ARE DOING NOW
We share the gifts of American Christians with those who have invited us to give public concerts in Russia and other formerly-Communist countries of Eastern Europe. It is important that the recipients of these gifts know that many hands and hearts--and many sacrifices--have gone into the gifts of Bibles, music manuscripts, and Christian literature we are able to take them (as well as hand-carried gifts of cash, to be distributed and used by native missioners for the spread of the Gospel of Christ).
In turn, when we are invited to American churches, we can share not only music but the testimonies of those we meet--of their hunger for Christ, or their faithfulness to Him in their trials, and their hopes and fears for the future of their countries. We are told that these stories are at least as entertaining as our music--and often more important as people tell us with tears in their eyes, "How small my troubles seem when I hear about such faith under fire!" Russia and Albania have brought new perspective to our own lives as well, and a new sense of the urgency of the Gospel. Usually we tell stories in our concerts but have also given talks outside of a concert. Here is an example of a recent talk given at a Adult Sunday School.
Missionaries and Christian visitors to Eastern Europe are not only ambassadors for Christ but for our country. Even in small countries, such as Albania, American Christians are watched very closely by the non-Christian population. Cultural sensitivity and respect open doors. We are blessed with an opportunity to share our music and to listen to the music of others, and to bring a few Eastern European Christians to America as well. We research the history, literature, and languages of the countries we visit, before we arrive there. Unfortunately, we cannot become proficient in each language, but we can at least introduce ourselves and sing some of the material in the language of the people.
And AMERICA NEEDS TO KNOW that the movement toward freedom in Eastern Europe was a God-inspired and God-protected movement--from the heroic Christians who climbed on the tanks in Russia with copies of the New Testament in their hands, to the Romanians shot down in defense of their churches, to the young people of Albania who demanded the re-opening of the churches with candlelight vigil and fasting. AMERICA NEEDS TO KNOW that spiritual vitality and the quest for human freedom are, to the peoples of Eastern Europe, a single entity--now, in these days of spiritual ambiguity in America, we must tell America this truth, which somehow does not make the front pages of the daily news.
America also needs to know that the Moslem people CAN
be reached for Christ! Having personally witnessed the baptism of young
Moslems, and the tears in the eyes of others who were deeply touched by seeing
their first Christian service--we know that the Holy Spirit is doing a great
work in Albania in the Moslem population.
As we see on the news almost daily, "hot spots" are breaking out all over the formerly Communist world, and that world is critically unstable. How frightening it is to think that our dear Albanian people are on the very dangerous border with the former Yugoslavia. Even tiny Albania can be a keystone in future world events--especially in the relations between Christians and Moslems--as we can see by reading the papers each day. We would be horrified if the 700,000 bunkers built by Enver Hoxha, the godless former dictator, would have to be used to defend Albania against invasion or in a civil war now that the country is free! Not only governments, but the people as a whole must be convinced that religious freedom is a foundation-stone of successful government.
We are supported by churches of all denominations, through donations at concerts. In the wonderful native missionary effort we in turn are supporting, all kinds of Christians are striving to understand each other, and to work together in harmony. For example, the Russian Bible Society is an effort by and for all Christians. Missionaries in Albania enjoy cordial relationships with one another and are all seeking the same goal: The upbuilding of the Kingdom of God. It is a joy to hear young Albanian Christians singing all kinds of Christian songs and choruses--from Byzantine chant to "Glorify Thy Name in all the earth!"
We would like you to read about what a mission trip is like when our family has been able to travel to Eastern Europe. Here are the stories of two of our recent trips, one to Russia, and the other to Albania:
Musical Tour of Albania A Visit to the
Uplands of Russia
HOW YOUR CHURCH COULD CONTINUE TO ASSIST US
We are facing exciting new challenges and have received wonderful invitations from formerly-Communist countries to return this year. How much we are able to do depends upon the American concerts we are able to give, and the generosity of churches who, having heard us and having understood, wish to lend us a helping hand. We are inspired to know that you would consider wanting to work with us to share the Good News of Jesus Christ in Eastern Europe. These courageous people the Lord has permitted us to meet both in Russia and in Albania. And we're equally thrilled with those in America who have helped us to help them. Although they may never know the names of those who have come to their assistance in this life, the goodwill engendered by the prayers and gifts given for them is tangible and builds up goodwill for Christ and for our entire country.
Assisting us with recommendations about concerts we
might give in churches of your acquaintance and scheduling us in your church,
We do not work through an agency, and we handle our own publicity, office needs,
and so on. Scheduling concerts is by far the most time-consuming effort--and
any help you could give us with phone calls, letters of recommendation, or
rebookings would be most gratefully received.
Thank you again for your interest, and God bless you as
you serve Him with the many talents He has given you.
Love in Christ,
Dana & Sue Talley
159-34 Riverside Dr. W., #2K New York, NY 10032-1014 (212) 927-1015