FAITH: Castlegar pastor shares how she met Ukrainian singer headlining gospel music festival

Ukrainian Yana Zlot will be performing at the Pass Creek Gospel Music Festival. Photo: SubmittedUkrainian Yana Zlot will be performing at the Pass Creek Gospel Music Festival. Photo: Submitted
Cynthia Pelletier is the pastor of Kinnaird Church of GodCynthia Pelletier is the pastor of Kinnaird Church of God

What do a talented Ukrainian songstress, a dying atheist, a guy with a dream to create a local Gospel Music Festival and a Castlegar pastor and her hubby have in common? It’s a long story, but the short answer is Jesus!

Proverbs 3:5-6 says, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Have you ever stopped to think about the path that has led you to where you are? For some of us, the road we’ve travelled is fraught with pain and injustice and looking back leaves us breathless and shaken. Still others of us, swallow deeply and look the other way when we catch sight of the chaos-strewn thoroughfare poor choices have left behind us.

Wherever life has brought us, the reality is that we didn’t get here overnight. The journey has been one of a thousand miles, a million steps – one after the other.

If we quiet our hearts and minds long enough and have the courage to look our past square in the face, we may find small but crucial details coming into sharper focus, revealing pivotal moments where life-changing steps were taken.

We can often see, in those defining moments, that there was more going on than what met the eye. As 20/20 vision enables us to distinguish the miraculous amid the mundane, we get the distinct impression this is no accidental or coincidental path we travel and that our meandering footsteps have been gently, and sometimes abruptly, guided into alignment with our destiny and purpose by the grace of an Unseen Hand.

Six years ago, a lady who had attended our church before our tenure, reached out to invite my husband Mark and I to stay at her home and attend a conference at her church in Langley. Though we didn’t know her well, we felt God was up to something and took her up on her offer.

It was an amazing conference where we were enthralled by the riveting testimonies of radicalized terrorists turned Christian missionaries. During one of the lunch breaks, we met a young man named Andrew who told us how God had saved his life – literally.

He had grown up in an atheistic family in South Africa and later moved to Vancouver. He had been extremely sick – dying, in fact. Though he went to countless specialists, none could help him. He met a Christian lady who told him that God was going to heal him. When God completely healed him of that disease, that young atheist put his faith in Jesus Christ and started attending a local church. He ended up going to Ukraine on a short ministry trip and was assigned a beautiful young translator who was also the worship leader. Sparks flew, and Andrew and Yana were soon engaged to be married.

Growing up in Ukraine, Yana had no exposure to Christianity, but the first time she and her mother walked into an evangelical worship service they were both completely overwhelmed by the love, power, and palpable presence of God. For the first time, their gifted music was ignited with passion and purpose as they began to pour out their hearts in adoration and praise of their loving Saviour, Jesus.

Andrew came to Castlegar the same summer we met him and helped us along with another congregation to feed over 400 people at the city’s 2016 Canada Celebration. He was overjoyed with the prospect of Yana’s anticipated arrival in Canada and their upcoming wedding and promised to bring Yana to meet us.

Two years later, Yana and I finally got to sing together when she, Andrew and her mom came to Castlegar to do a concert at our church. We longed to do more music together, but babies and pandemics have a way of changing plans.

John Phillips, the founder, and organizer of the Pass Creek Gospel Music Festival has honoured Yana and I with the privilege of headlining this year’s festival on July 23/24 along with other fantastic local musicians, including Gilles Parenteau, keyboardist extraordinaire!

Acts 17:26 says, “From one man He (God) made all the people of the world. Now they live all over the earth. He decided exactly when they should live. And he decided exactly where they should live.”

Your life is not an accident, and the path that God is calling you to join Him on is not coincidental. I hope you will come enjoy the music at the Gospel Music Festival next weekend, but most importantly, that you will find the peace, joy, and fulfillment of saying, “Yes!” to God’s beautiful, directed paths and divine appointments.

Cynthia Pelletier is the pastor of Kinnaird Church of God.

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