Praise God for a wonderful camping season! This summer over 700 attended 15 different BIEM sponsored camps in Ukraine and Russia. All in locations where we have planted new churches. Many of the camps were conducted on the church grounds. This enabled more of the children in the area to attend than in past summers when we had to limit some villages to 10 children due to transportation and space issues. This is primarily the reason our number of campers reached a record number this summer. Praise God for many who received Christ and made life-changing decisions as a result of these camps.
It is thrilling to see the dramatic results of young lives transformed through Christ shine in the lives of returning campers. Officials from the orphanage in Tuchkova have been amazed that some of the children whose behavior problems they normally treat with medication have improved. When quizzed about the reason for their improvement, these youngsters said it was due to the love of Christ they have in their hearts! Through this, two workers at the orphanage who previously avoided all contact with our efforts began to attend meetings. Many parents and relatives attended the closing services of the camps were moved to tears. In one meeting the vice-principle stood up and said "You have changed us by your love, kindness and trust in God not only in the hearts of our children but also many of our hearts."
As, you can see from the reports below, the fruit of these efforts went beyond the children but also touched the hearts of parents, grandparents and even community leaders. Our children’s workers and all at BIEM are grateful to you for your gift towards this summer’s camping program. By making these camping programs possible you have made an eternal impact on many young people whose hearts have been touched by the love of God this summer. We trust that these reports and pictures will be a blessing to you.
July 2004 Komarivka, Ukraine
Praise be to God that this month we had a great opportunity to have a Christian camp at the church. It was very good testimony in the village though there were cases when old people told bed things and cursed the parents who were brining their kids to the camp, to the church. However praise be to God that most of the village people had good attitude for us and the camp we held.
Children enjoyed the camp. They wanted to be there and cheerfully spent their time in the camp. They were seriously preparing program on which they wanted to invite their parents at the end of the camp. Not all parents came to see the program, but praise be to the Lord ten of them did. The parents were pleased and thankful for the important and good work that is doing for children’s upbringing. The parents listened to God’s Word very attentively. The seeds of the Word of Truth were sowed in their hearts. Please God this seeds would grow out.
When we asked children what else they want they answered all together that the camp would go on. This was a mark for our work. We are heartily thankful to God and to you for the care you continuously show to us and to God’s work in this place.
July 2004 Borivka, Ukraine
Praise and thankfulness be to our Lord for the wonderful time of grace, that God’s Word is proclaimed in this place too, that we can teach children freely and guide their steps on the way of life with God. By God’s great mercy and due to your support we could hold a week Christian camp. It had important influence on people and their attitude to the church and God’s work.
There were very cheerful and happy days for children. They came to the camp with joy and left the camp with joy. There was a lot of work on the field at that period of time. Nobody paid attention for children and they were left to their own device. So it was a good opportunity to work with the kids and to tell them about Christ and about God’s love for them. They praised God in songs, learned golden verses from the Holly Scripture, and listened to the stories about life of Christ and saints. It was the first meeting with the Lord and Gospel for many children. Also they were preparing a special program for their relatives whom they invited on the last day of the camp. Some of the children quoted poems; another sang songs or retold a story.
All parents and relatives had been invited but just few of them came. There were 50 children in the camp and just 12 grownups came to the program. However praise be to God for this too. The parents saw what their children were doing and what kind of spiritual food they were eating and tasted it themselves. The parents heard joyful singing of their children. Many of them had tears in the eyes but some were indifferent. The same way people in the village had different attitude to our work. Some told that this good work others that we want to stole their children. If God do that these people would give up their sinful deeds and the way of life that lead their unbeliever homefolk.
So we thank you heartily one more time for your care and for the help in doing God’s work in this place too. May God bless you and repay you thousand fold.
July 2004 Chervona Sloboda, Ukraine
When the van with youth drove up to the church building the children had already crowded in the yard looking for opening of the camp. It was cheerful meeting as for children so for leaders that had met each other last year and became friends in the same camp in Chervona Sloboda. For many children such camps are the only opportunity to rest and receive spiritual information and knowledge about church, to make new friends.
During two weeks children from the villages of Ch. Sloboda, Yuriv, and Kopiivka listened to Bible stories, played games, learned and sang Christian songs, ate different delicious things, and at the last day of the camp prayed a prayer of repentance.
There were fellowships with youth in the evenings. We learned Christian songs, watched Christian films, and just talked. One boy turned to God in prayer just over the fire where the fellowship was. The boy has an interesting story and I will tell it to you in outline. Yura, this is the boy’s name, was in the camp in Zgurivka the month last month and he liked there very much. He asked to go to other camps with youth as a helper of a leader. There had been no time before that when unbeliever was taken to the camp as a helper. However Yura asked very hard and it was very difficult to say him no, so he was taken as leader’s helper but he was put on probation. Yura gave a good account of himself in the camps. He did any work, everything that was asked him to do, but just one thing was bad of him, he was smoking secretly. Of course everybody new about it and were waiting from him to deal with the problem.
There was a time when everybody gathered about the fire to have fellowship. That evening was special because it was the last evening in the camp and it was a farewell fire. There was a special air of joy and sadness, nobody wanted to go away. Yura also understood that tomorrow he would part with guys who became his friends. Also he understood that something was between him and believers, something that separated them. When Yura stood before everybody to repent and accept Jesus everybody rejoiced. And everybody rejoiced even more when he took cigarettes out from his pocket and through them into the fire. There is how one more person was born for the Lord. Next day when it was time to say good-bye Yura told: “I am in a hurry to get home because I am looking for telling everybody how God has changed me”.
This camp was a great blessing for everybody. I am very thankful to you for you prayer and financial support. Due to you God’s work is being done here. May God bless you!
July 2004 Tuchkova, Russia
With your help we once again conducted camp though finances permitted us to have 25 rather than 50 campers plus 5 workers. The camp was conducted on a Christian base "Streamlet" which is located in a fine place of the Moscow suburbs. Children lived in the rooms that housed 8-10 persons.
The program has been constructed on the Bible. Scripture was studied and there was much singing of Christian songs. We also conduct bible lessons and children made various hand-made articles and circles. It was very healthy. When I have asked them about to what to them to give the gift they have told, that it is not necessary to them more than any gifts because the camp is the best gift.
Two teachers from the orphanage accompanied the children. They did not want to go because they knew that it will be carried out by Baptists. But after the first week they completely changed their attitude towards believing people and asked that if believers could conduct future camps. They also completely changed their attitude to the Bible and prayer. In fact they saw and heard, how children prayed. They noticed, how the behavior of children changed and were amazed.
The camp lasted 15 days. If we could find the means it would be possible to be with them all the summer long. We are grateful to the Lord and His people for helping us with this camp ministry the last few years. We also hope that next year we can conduct a similar camp for street children.
June-July 2004 Report by Ukrainian Children’s Worker Luba Jumik
God has blessed the first two months of summer vocation in special way. With youth group of 7 people we could organize and held 5 camps for children from unchristian families; one of the camps were fore orphan children.
The first camp was at the orphanage in Zgurivka. As usually each day was filled with activities; there were entertaining and spiritual parts. When it was time for the children to go to bed we held evangelical services in the nearest villages. At the end of a service everybody could receive God’s Word.
At the last day of the camp in Zgurivka orphanage we organized for all workers a farewell dinner. Our youth were singing a lot about Christ, shared testimonies. I told about my childhood:
It was the time of communism. Once a chairman of the village council came to my parents and told that they would loose their parental rights and children would be taken to the orphanage because they brought us, children, to the church and taught us to pray to God. But God saved us from that and we grew up in Christian family that taught us to love God and people.
Some time later – I continued my story – I came willingly to one orphanage, probably it was the one to which authorities had wanted to take me, and testified to everybody, to the little ones and to the great ones, about wonderful deeds of God and still do it since that.
I noticed that the teachers of old age cried. Then a vice-principle stood up and said: “You have changed by your love, kindness and trust in God not only the hearts of our children but also many of our hearts.”
It was the first time we had camps in the villages of Salycha and Yuriv. Forty-five parents came to the farewell banquet in Salycha. One of the village teachers spent with all the day to see our work. At the end of the day she said:
“I am really impressed and wonder how you can keep attention of the children of every age. You have my students in your camp and they misbehave during the school classes, but they are sitting very quiet here.”
“Praise be to God, He keeps their attention” I answered.
There were camps before in the villages of Lypovka and Chervona Sloboda. However there were a lot of new children.
There were about 140 children at the last day of the camp in Lypovka, also some parents came. One mother even gave us small presents and promised “I will attend your services.”
God was with us in every camp. He guarded the children while they were running and playing games. He guarded us from evil people while we had fellowship with the youth from the villages and shared with them testimonies till late night. He spoke through us to children and parents.
For these two months about 700-800 children and grownups have heard about living God. Some of them have received Jesus in their hearts. Please pray with us about good sowed seeds that they would grow out and give much fruit.