Dear friends, summer has passed so quickly, and we held the last summer camp for kids from Goncharovsk and Desna. Camp always means an unforgettable time for both saved and unsaved young people. The camp was at the same location as we’ve held it before. It was in tents, and we had thirty-two people ages 14-21.
In camp we were separated from civilization, and that was a big plus, because nothing interfered with us in developing relationships with the young people. We have a rubber boat, and the boys also did some fishing. Last year we had before-lunch discussions on various Christian topics, but this year we decided not do that and to concentrate our energy on the evening service. So we were surprised that many kids asked us to have the discussions anyway, and so we did. In the evenings we had devotions, where we sang songs. It was a special thing to preach in the open air near the fire. It was really an extraordinary time. It passed so quickly, and we all felt sad because we had to go. We cooked food over the fire. The kids helped in all the work and in the kitchen also. I want to say more about what did we did in this camp, but I also want to tell you about how God touched the hearts of some kids and about the kinds of barriers that stood in their way to the Lord.
I had an interesting talk with one guy, Artom, at about two o’ clock in the morning. I was about to go bed, and Artom stopped me because he wanted to talk. It seemed like he was troubled by something. He asked if we could talk, and I said yes. We walked out of camp, and he began with some questions. He was interested in life with God and in ways that God would help his family. It’s interesting that this guy had always been interested in God and in the Bible, but his friends’ opinions were more important to him. He had been embarrassed and hid his interest in the Lord and in the Bible. But that night he wasn’t ashamed; he openly talked about questions he was interested in, even when his buddies joined us. He shared his impressions, and about what drove him toward spiritual things. He shared the story of his friend whose mother wore a cross on her neck and said that it would prevent that boy from becoming a believer like we are. And he said that he understood that everybody was urging him not to become a believer. I know that boy’s parents; they’ve asked me to talk to him many times. They think that our fellowship has a positive influence on him. Some horrible things took place in Artom’s life recently. He hung out with bad friends. He drank a lot and had even tried to commit suicide before camp. He locked himself in the bathroom at a party and cut his veins. His friends figured out what was happening and called for his father, who broke down the door and found his sons with cut veins. And many other strange things happened to him. I understood that he was caught in a spiritual war for his soul.
One girl from Chernigiv (her name is Olga) was in our camp. She was impressed by what she saw and heard about God in our camp and also in another summer camp, where she had been before. I invited her in order to give her a chance to grow and understand the Gospel. She prayed with great pleasure, and I remember one time I was late for a lunch and asked some kids if they had prayed. They said yes, so I asked one guy to pray with me, and Olga joined us. When I drove the kids home, I saw sadness on Olga’s face, and I thought maybe the time at camp had bothered her. But when I asked her what was wrong, she wept and said that she didn’t want to leave. She said that never in her life had she felt so good as here, and she wanted to go to church in Chernigiv.
Also, we have a lot of fruitful fellowships with various youth. It seems the atmosphere in camp disposed kids to talk about the Lord and gave us opportunities to share with them about His truth, which made us to rejoice. What could make a Christian happier than an opportunity to share Gospel with others?
Pray with us:
- For Artom and his spiritual strengthening.
- For Olga, that she will attend church.
- For all the kids who attended camp and for their repentance.
Igor FomichovMissionary pastor
Borova village, Fastiv region, Ukraine
We are very thankful to BIEM for the financial support provided to hold a children’s camp in a picturesque place near the lake in the forest of Didivshchyna village, in Fastiv region.
We know your work, and we pray for you and in particular for the BIEM missionaries who minister in Muslim countries. May God richly bless all your workers and your ministry, and may the Kingdom of Christ be spread on the earth.
On behalf of Good News Independent Baptist Church, O. F. Vasylenko
Chervona Sloboda, Ukraine
Blessed be the Lord our God, who has given us victory in Jesus Christ!
In recent times the public school in Chervona Sloboda has been closed to our church. We had no opportunity to conduct a ministry among the school children. Any idea or project touching on spiritual education was rejected by the school’s principal. The situation seemed impossible to change, and the hostile attitude of the principal provoked negative emotions in our hearts. Sometimes we felt that perhaps we needed to fight that situation (for example, by writing a letter to the authorities), but God gave us wisdom to pray for this situation and for the principal. This year, a new principal has come to the school. We were glad, knowing that everything would change.
It so happened this year that the camp dates for the school and for our church were identical. In light of that situation, we proposed to conduct camp together, and the principal agreed. We started making preparations: we bought sports equipment, craft items, and different things for prizes. We were allowed to lead the whole program. This way, we had an opportunity to speak a lot about the Lord. There were moments when the teachers regarded us with distrust, but everything went well. The camp took place at the school yard, and it was a good testimony for parents and for teachers, who from time to time attended our lessons to check out what we are teaching.
The great event for the school and for camp was the Americans’ visit to assist with camp. The principal and teachers thoroughly enjoyed it. They had never talked to Americans face to face; they left the best impressions. The principal said that he never thought that Americans were such simple and friendly people. And most impressive was when I explained that many Americans spend their vacations at camps in Russia and Ukraine or in other countries. Instead of going to rest in Miami, they go to serve, and not only that, but many of them save their money and offer it for ministry. Young people work on weekends to collect money for a trip to Ukraine. The principal and teachers were shocked at what we said, and we thanked God for this opportunity to witness to them. The school liked the game “The Maze,” and we presented it to them to keep. We also donated to them 500 grivnas ($58) to make repairs on the school roof. The principal and all the teachers expressed their gratitude. They thanked us for caring about the spiritual education of kids, because nobody does that nowadays. Because of this camp, we established relationships with the school leaders, and we hope to continue working together.
We thank the Lord also that He turned our enemies into our friends. Thank you, brothers and sisters from the U.S., for your self-sacrificing spirit and for help in holding this camp. Thank you and God bless you.
Sea of Azov, Ukraine
On the coast of the Sea of Azov there was a camp in which children were praising their Creator and enjoyed an improvement in their physical health.
On the way home from the camp, I rode in a bus with a group of kids ages 8-10. Just as I got in, I heard someone say, “Let’s sing!” The other children immediately broke into song. The words of that song were these: “This is the time to come to the Lord. This is the time to find the Lord, because without him everything is vanity.” Watching the joy and zeal of their singing filled my heart with joy. In the ten days that those kids spent in camp on the Azov Sea coast, they became united into one team.
Only just after their arriving at the camp did a couple of kids become a little unsociable. But this was related to small children only. The teenagers never showed any sadness or homesickness. The sea, the Bible studies, the preparation for the evening service, the sport competitions all step by step united the kids into one friendly group. I want to stress that before camp the organizers had two main goals: health improvement and introducing the kids to God’s Word. We’ll stop on each of them. The buildings that we lived in were 50 to 100 meters from sea. The kids played different games on the sand. And the most important, they constantly breathed fresh sea air, whether at the beach or in camp. This is very important, because most of the kids from our group were are in the Chernobyl zone. At the Sea of Azov, the beach sand contains many healthy biological elements such as calcium, iodine, bromine, which have medical quality, and more than that we had good meals. Grain cereals every day are so important for vitality, along with soups, meat, vegetables and dairy products. We can surely say that the healthful meals and rest at the sea were excellent for all who were with us. Lungs were cleared, and the whole body received good benefits both inside and outside. Praise the Lord for such a good possibility to improve our health.
But besides physical benefits, the kids received spiritual nourishment as well. During the first half of each day, they attended Bible studies. Each group had six of them. All during camp we studied the book of Daniel. Every day we considered particular examples, and the children learned that in trusting their lives to God they need not be afraid, that He provides the only real sense of life.
One interesting fact of that camp is that the evening services were prepared by kids. Of course, the sermons were preached by ministers, but main responsibility was on the young people. The children sensed their importance and prepared with a strong zeal. They sang songs, prepared skits, memorized verses and read God’s Word. Some of them got nervous and made some mistakes, but that didn’t matter. Kids worshiped the Lord with smiles on their faces. The final days of camp were especially beautiful. Everyone knew each other. We felt as though all of us, in spite of our number being close to 100 people, were one big Christian friendly family, and we didn’t want to go home.
Praise the Lord, during this time the kids’ hearts opened to their Creator. It is very important to sow the seeds of God’s Word in children’s hearts from a very young age. The kids always prayed before meals, and every day they learned something new about God and sang glory to Him. For those kids who are from Christian homes this was quite normal, but some kids had never seen nor experienced such a life before. Perhaps this camp will change not only the children’s lives, but also the lives of their parents, who don’t know God. Praise be to the Father in Heaven for this camp, and thanks to all who helped to make it.
Peace to all of you, God’s coworkers! Each opportunity to work with you is a great blessing.
Summer isn’t over yet, and some churches are just now preparing to start summer camp, but we have already gone through these blessed moments. On one hand, camp is an especially festive event in the life of a church, but on the other it brings many qualms and cares. For the kids, it’s always a time of joy with special moments of active fun; for us as organizers it brings concern about the success of leading and feelings of responsibility for the kids.
This year we had a chance to hold two camps with one week of break in between. We held day camp in Ternopil, and a week later we held a regular camp in the Carpathian Mountains. But these two camps were connected with each other. The same team of leaders conducted the camp. Most kids who were in the day camp went to the Carpathians. As I am speaking of these camps, it’s hard to say which one was more important or better or more effective. Both camps were important, good and effective – they just were different. Different goals were set before them.