From four cultures, music team shares a single passion

Tags: Eurasia, Russia, Story


The music team — Anya, Daniela, Renata and Sergei — performs in a Siberian church.

By Daniela H. in Siberia

Two years ago, God put it on the hearts of four people from four different cultures to start a Buryat music group in Russia. Our group — with members from Canada, Switzerland, Moldova and Buryatia — has the vision to bring Buryat melodies into our mostly Russian churches.

Our hope is that our Buryat brothers and sisters can see the value in their own music and culture and believe that God can use this to reach out to others. It has been amazing to see people’s reactions when they hear the familiar sounds of their culture in an unexpected place!

All of us have neat stories about how God has grown us into serving Him through music. Sometimes God plants dreams into our hearts that later become true in a way we had never imagined.

Renata’s parents call her a miracle child, mostly because she was born early, at six months. Music has always been a part of her life. When she was 19, she began to play the violin. She thought about learning to play the cello next, but this never happened. Many years later, after she moved from Canada to Russia to serve with SEND, Renata heard the music of the morin khuur. She immediately fell in love with this traditional Buryat “cello.” Now she takes lessons from one of the best morin khuur players and plays the instrument at church.

Anya’s story is one of persistence. As a child in Buryatia, she was known to be totally unmusical. Still, at the age of 15, she insisted on taking guitar lessons. Her teacher thought it was hopeless, but to his amazement, she had a breakthrough in the second year and started to have a feel for music and rhythm. Anya became a believer through the worship times in church, but when she joined the choir, the ladies asked her to sing more softly, because she couldn’t get it straight. Undeterred, she never stopped dreaming and praying that one day she would be able to sing and serve God as part of the worship team. One night, the Lord answered her prayers and gave her the ability to hear and sing in tune! Now she plays the guitar and the piano for our group and sings in our church.

When Sergei from Moldova sang at church as a teen-ager, others would employ a common Russian phrase, saying: “You are absolutely unmusical. Obviously a bear has stepped on your ear.” So he started to ask God for a miracle and after a while, to everyone’s astonishment, he was able to sing along. He picked up his brother’s old guitar and taught himself to play it. He became part of the music team at his church in Moldova, where he also learned to play the bass guitar. Then he moved to Buryatia, married Anya and fell in love with Buryat music. What a perfect fit!

I am the fourth member of our Buryat band. In Switzerland, I grew up playing four different instruments, but due to a medical condition, I lost the ability to play any of them. I let go of them with great sadness, glad that I could at least still sing. But then, over the course of eight years, God gave me back all my instruments, one after the other. Now I lead the Buryat music team, and I recently started to write melodies in the Buryat style.

The four of us all enjoy our weekly practices and the opportunities we have to play in churches. We resonate with what Johann Sebastian Bach wrote beneath each of his religious compositions: Soli Deo gloria! Glory to God alone!