The most popular among young people in the 70s of the 20th century were vocal and instrumental ensembles (VIA). They filled radio, television with their songs and also were often heard in the Youth Palaces in all cities of the Soviet Union. Young people were delighted with the sound of electric guitars, the first synthesizers, drums and polyphonic singing. Christian youth was fascinated by this music too. In autumn of 1972, a small group of young people from the Donetsk church prepared a small program for the Harvest Festival. For the first time, their songs were heard in the churchyard during a general festive dinner. It was the time when the musical group “The Ark Singers” began its ministry. The organizer and the leader was Viktor Trakalyuk, a talented musician and singer. From 1982 to 2017 the group was headed by Anatoliy Berestovoy.
At first, the group consisted of guys and girls. The first name of the group was Mriya (means “Dream” in Ukrainian). In late 1982, the sisters left the group, and their place was taken by young guys. We dreamed of singing songs filled with the content of the Gospel and glory to God on large stages and open spaces.
In 1989, our dream came true – we began to sing in the Palaces of Culture and in the public squares. Then we chose a new name of the group – “Kovcheg” or “The Ark Singers”, which points to the only place where a person can find salvation from eternal death – the Church of Christ.
Most of the team at that time worked in the mines of Donetsk. Only a few guys had an elementary musical education, since at that time the path to the music school for believers was closed.
We conducted two rehearsals every week after work to achieve a high level of singing.
The period of 1990-2005 was a time of great evangelism in all countries of the former Soviet Union. The first big service, in which we took part, was in 1990 in Leningrad in the Gagarin Sport Complex, which accommodated 25,000 people. In the same year, we won first place at the first All-Union festival of Christian songs in Kishenev, Moldova.
In summer of 1992, we took part in the music program of the World Missionary Congress “People for Christ” in Riga. In autumn of 1992, we sang during Billy Graham crusade in Russian at “Revival-92”. It was at the Olimpiysky Sports Complex, which accommodates 60,000 people. For 15 years we had been working closely with the “Revival” mission, headed by Victor Gamm, the Biblical Mission, Jim Ponder, “The Light of the Gospel” mission, and many churches in Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Moldova and Kazakhstan. Since 1991, we have been visiting the churches of Germany, and since 1994, we have been visiting the churches of the United States. For the entire period of our ministry, we have traveled by car more than a million and a half kilometers.
In 2000-2008, the group changed again. Some participants chose a different ministry for themselves; others changed their place of residence. As a result, the team was updated, gaining new voices, new musicians and composers. Until 2016, there were six people in our musical group. In February of 2017, after a long illness, the head of the group Anatoliy Berestovoy passed to eternity.
Currently the leader of the group is Pavel Velgus, Sergei Kurdyukov and Roman Pivoshenko are responsible for the musical part. We continue our ministry together with the missions of Hoffnungstraeger-Ost and the Slavic Missionary Outreach. We believe that songs filled with the Gospel will be as valuable and in demand as the Gospel of Jesus Christ itself. We would like the history of our group to be the cause of gratitude to God and admiration of His mercy to us.