Porltand band's concert to benefit Christian Aid Center

SONSOFDAY traces its spiritual roots to the grandfather of three band members.

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WALLA WALLA -- Portland-based group, SONSOFDAY, is enjoying a rapid rise in Christian and secular worlds as they tour and sing of personal introspection, a longing for hope and a love for God.

Their music has underscored commercials and movies, and the band tours like crazy, filling up any time gaps with entries into musical competitions.

One tour stop means SONSOFDAY will play in Walla Walla at 7 p.m. Sunday at First Presbyterian Church, 325 S. First Ave.

The concert is free to all and an offering taken during the event will benefit the Christian Aid Center. The Walla Walla shelter that serves homeless men and families -- and serves meals to many others -- is saving toward the $7,500 it will take to replace the dining hall and kitchen floors, said Executive Director Jason Wicklund.

The nucleus of the six-piece band is three of the four Belonozhko brothers. Originally from Ukraine, the young men immigrated to the United States in 1992 with their family.

Little children at the time, it is unlikely they have seen the sort of suffering the Christian Aid Center sees day in and day out.

Step back two generations in the Belonozhko family, however, to realize its members are relatively fresh from oppression and fear.

It was when the era of communism was at its worst that the Belonozhko family was exposed to Christianity, the brothers told an interviewer at Cross Rhythms, a Christian-based media company .

"Our grandfather, Joseph, was an unbeliever when he was younger and actually worked for the KGB in a concentration camp for Christians. Inside this camp was a store that supplied the needs of the camp, and some of the prisoners worked in the store. At one point one of the employees quit, and they needed someone to fill in for that person," Vlad Belonozhko told the magazine.

"My grandfather began searching through inmate records to find a prisoner who had experience working in a store. Eventually he discovered an elderly woman in the camp with such experience and she was made to go to work."

The boys' grandfather had searched the woman when she had arrived at the camp and confiscated all her belongings. One of the items taken was an old Bible. In the days and months that followed, the elderly lady repeatedly asked him if she could have her Bible back. But prisoners were not allowed to have religious materials, as that was their crime in the first place.

The woman eventually persuaded Joseph to let her have the Bible. First, however, he read it to make sure there was nothing against the Soviet Union.

Joseph lived close to the camp and it was arranged for the elderly lady to come to their house to help with housework. She began sharing her faith with the couple.

"When my grandfather listened to the story of Jesus, God touched him and softened his heart and he began to cry," Vlad said. "He just felt so sorry for Jesus and all that he had to go through. My grandfather accepted Jesus into his heart on that day and that's where it all began for us as well."

The brothers formed the band in 2005, releasing a debut CD containing several songs that same year. Since then, they have released full-length CDs "Fragile People" and "Autumn Heart."

Sunday's concert, including the choice of musicians, fits well with the ministry of First Presbyterian, said Eric Aeschliman, music director for the church. "We periodically do things to help out Christian Aid Center and the local food banks. We are striving to be an outreach church."

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 526-8322.

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