Worthy Christian News » Christian » First-Ever Christmas Marathon Aired by Christian Ministry on Secular TV in St. Petersburg, Russia
By Dan Wooding
ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA (January 11, 2001) - IRR-TV (INTERNATIONAL RUSSIAN RADIO/TV) has just made history by airing the first-ever Christmas marathon on secular television in St. Petersburg, Russia.
"As a result two million people in the city - perhaps for the first time in their lives - know why the world celebrates Christmas," said IRR/TV founder, Hannu Haukka. "From 8.00 am - non stop - to 4.00 am the next morning, we were on air with guests, pre-prepared program bits, music videos, testimonies and live on-air dialogue with viewers in St. Petersburg (people called in by telephone).
"We told St. Pertersburgites that on that first Christmas night 2000 years ago a bright light appeared on the dark skies of our human history. The Son of God came in flesh to illuminate our hearts and thoughts. Had Jesus not come men would never be free from the bondage of sin."
Haukka said that a lady called their TV studio and said, "Thank you for your TV program. Now I truly know why we celebrate Christmas!"
He added that, during the marathon, a high-ranking diplomat in St. Petersburg showed up at the TV station and prayed the sinner's prayer and gave his life to the Lord.
"In a separate event, 700 young people responded to an invitation on air to come to a special concert after the telecast. They were ministered to in song and word. Many made a commitment to follow Jesus that very night.
"As I stood in the small TV studio in St. Petersburg and looked around I saw how dreadfully the facility and equipment were lacking. The place reminded me of the lowly stall in which Jesus was born on Christmas night (Well, we did have electricity).
"The 24 hour TV special had begun. There were no windows or doors separating the control room and TV studio. The two TV cameras were about to give up the ghost. The tripods were beyond repair by western standards. Proper studio lighting was not there. The color on the TV monitors was so out of whack that color correction was impossible. There was no radio intercom between cameras, the floor director, master control and producer. Our cue that we were on air on air was a TV set brought into the studio (the signal came from straight from the tower). By that time everyone in the city knew we were on air as well.
"I prayed hard. The equipment could have broken down at any moment. Our volunteers, full of enthusiasm, did not notice how close we were to total shutdown of the telecast ending our Christmas special.
"My heart rejoiced over the fruit that we had already seen during our show. Though my heart was rejoicing I was close to tears. This monumental Christmas telecast to millions in Russia deserved something better than what we had."
Finnish-born Haukka said he recalled the words of the Psalmist: "Some trust in chariots, and some in horses, by we confess the name the Lord our God" Ps.20.7.
"No mistake, there were no chariots or horses - the hardware was not there," he said. All we had to go by on was the name of our Lord. Yet, victory in the kingdom of God is in the anointing - not in the hardware!
"I could see that the team was under the anointing. Obviously millions in St. Petersburg saw it as well. The fact that our equipment held out for the whole marathon was a real miracle. At one point the station manager threatened "If the unstable video signal does not stabilize soon we will have to terminate the whole telecast". We prayed. The video signal to the tower stabilized.
"There were moments when I felt we were walking on water. But before the night was over the message of Christmas had brought salvation to many. As the western world celebrated Christmas at home that Christmas night Laura and I drove home from St. Petersburg. And we rejoiced just as the shepherds in Bethlehem had as they returned to their flocks after seeing the glory of God in the lowly manger.
"The telecasts continue. This New Year promises to be a great year of harvest in Russia! Our St. Petersburg office does urgently need $20,000 for purchase of new equipment. Perhaps the Holy Spirit has spoken to your heart about a lesser or larger gift for this cause. Together we can make a difference in the lives of multitudes across RUSSIA this year. Would you consider helping today? May the Lord bless you and your loved ones this New Year!"
IRR/TV has as its' mission statement: To reach over 240 million people living in Russia and the CIS telling them who Jesus is, why he came, why he died...to reconcile the peoples of these nations to the God who loves them.
IRR/TV is proclaiming the message in 15 languages, training indigenous workers and coworking with local ministries across Russia.
For more information, e-mail them at