A Finnish Christian singer who represented her country at the Eurovision Song Contest in 2000 toured Israel in March, performing for Holocaust survivors and sharing the Gospel with them during her concert.
Nina Astrom, a famous singer in Finland, decided to use her talent to spread the Good News after a life-changing experience. When a group of evangelists who worked with prisoners invited her to accompany them, Astrom quickly realized how music combined with a message of hope was a powerful tool to open people’s hearts and cause them to seek God. She also understood that her status as a well-known singer was an advantage to “open doors” to prisons and get the gospel in there much easier than for other Christians.
When prisoners attend Astrom’s concerts, to their surprise, they are faced with significant existential questions and are offered a solution, regardless of the depth of their sinful nature. During her years as an evangelistic singer, Astrom has visited prisons in 30 countries including Russia, Ukraine, the Netherlands, Albania, Baltic countries, Balkans and more. In the past, she has even performed in rehabilitation centers in Israel.
In March she performed for the first time for different kind of audience: those who endured the horrors of the Holocaust.
“All people were created in the image of God,” Astrom said before going on stage. “At the end, it doesn’t matter what you did in your life or what other people have done to you, the thirst for love and meaning is universal, so the message I share with the audience is the same message. At the same time, performing before the Holocaust survivors is a humbling experience, especially after my first visit to Yad Vashem (Holocaust Memorial).”
The most important part of Astrom’s performance is not the songs themselves, but rather the transitional passages during which she takes the audience on a journey beginning with the creation of man, his fall in sin, his helplessness and finally his need to connect with God and to find meaning. She continues through the prophecies about the Messiah and his coming into the world as a regular man and the hope of God’s love for us through His son. The journey ends with hope and an invitation to respond to the love of God.
Astrom communicates with the audience cordially and humbly, introducing the beauty of the simplicity of the gospel, without attempting to “adjust” the gospel to the audience.
“I want to bring you a message from someone who knows you better than you know yourself,” she says. “We all come from different places, but one thing unites us – the troubles of the soul: Do I have meaning? Does anyone care? Why am I alive? Where am I going? It is a yearning for a connection with God that was lost when we chose evil in the Garden of Eden. Since then our lives have been broken.”
In between songs, Astrom quotes Psalms and prophecies about the Messiah and gently embodies the story of salvation into one whole picture. She chose to sing various songs, including Christian classics such as “Mary, did you know?”, “I will follow Jesus” and more. She sings in several languages – English, Russian, Finnish and Hebrew – and introduces each song, telling the message behind it.
Astrom finished her performance by asking the audience if she could pray for them.
“I cannot force you to pray to God, if you do not want to. Surely people have forced you to do all sorts of things in your life, but you cannot force anyone to love,” she says. “I want to pray for you that the Messiah will reveal himself to you and that you will want to love him with all your heart. Do not forget that He loves you and you are valuable in his eyes.”
While many in the crowd had sparkling eyes and some even nodded, God alone searches the hearts and knows who has responded, but His word “will not return void.”
Kinneret Tours and Grace and Truth Christian Congregation made the connection for Astrom to perform for the Holocaust survivors. The congregation reaches out to Holocaust survivors in the south and has invited about 160 survivors to events organized by the congregation.
Astrom is interested in working with Israeli congregations that are interested in initiating evangelistic concerts. She can be reached through Kinneret Tours.