Defeating Goliath: CCX Fresh Fest

CCX Kharkiv is used to organizing large-scale projects. Over the past 3 years, with God's help, we held three Mission Weeks, several conferences and many open lectures at different universities. This autumn, the Lord gave us a good opportunity to try something new: we won a grant from the IFES world movement to hold our project for freshmen called “Fresh Fest". However, after the first team planning meeting, we realized that it would also be a great challenge, our "Goliath", which, it seemed, could not be overcome by our own strength.

After almost six months of preparation, the long-awaited Fresh Fest finally took place on September 21-23, 2017. Kharkiv is a city of festivals; similar events are organized almost every month there. That is why we chose the festival format – an open-air festival, an open-air project. On one hand, it gave us freedom to choose the place and invite a lot of participants, but on the other, it required tremendous administrative work. The project was held at the city park in a huge tent set up by our team. In addition to the installation itself, which the organizers carried out manually, it was necessary to find and bring tables, chairs, decorations, provide electricity with the help of generators, and even take care of the toilets.


The word "fresh" in the name of the festival shows we are primarily focused on the first-year students (freshmen or freshers), but at the same time, we also welcome other guests. Since Fresh Fest was conducted with the official permission of the city authorities, we tried to make a real social project aimed at helping young people to adapt to life changes and lay the right foundation for further years of study at the university. Thanks to Mission Week, the active members of CCX were so used to apologetics and conversations about Christianity that it was difficult to restrain those impulses and simply communicate, make friendships, and help, not expecting to see immediate fruit. This was a challenge, but also a good opportunity for growth! And, as practice has shown, actions can also be powerful tools of evangelism.

Fresh Fest was also special because the organizers of the project worked in cooperation with about 10 different churches.  These churches each prepared “hobby clubs” for the hobby fair at the festival, aimed at non-believing participants. Thus, our project served as a catalyst for the development of the churches’ mission, and as a result, some church communities that did not have this experience started new ministries aimed at helping non-believers. In fact, CCX has only a few offers for students and churches, primarily joint Bible study, but thanks to the idea of Fresh Fest, we were able to present a wide variety of hobbies to the participating churches that they could host at the festival and then later at their own church, such as a game party, a movie club, study of Italian and Korean languages, volunteer initiatives and even a culinary club!

All these pieces formed the whole picture of Fresh Fest. Coming to our tent, guests could walk through the hobby fair, relax and chat in the lounge zone, take a selfie with a background of stylish decorations, drink coffee with delicious cupcakes, and of course, listen to useful seminars, such as "How to survive in megapolis" or "lifehacks about building relationships". In addition, the highlight of the evening program was a movie club with a discussion, a concert of the music band from Kyiv "KrykDushi" (Cry of the soul) and a student drama performance.

During the three Fresh Fest days, about 600 participants visited our festival and received real support for their not- so- simple student life. Of these, about 150 people left their contacts, wishing to keep in touch. And last but not least, the team of organizers of 40 students and volunteers received invaluable experience for their individual growth.

Going to fight with Goliath, David took five stones. Without claiming a theological interpretation of this fact, we can say that in our case these were unique "pebbles" of Fresh Fest: the first open-air project for all of CCX Ukraine, the first event in cooperation with the city authorities, and a project with social orientation and full cooperation with the churches of Kharkiv. And just as David needed only one stone to plunge the giant to the ground, so it was with our first-year festival: only God’s grace managed to bring the matter to a wonderfully successful end. All glory to Him!