For the past four summers, young Next Generation Christians in the Northern Caucasus region have traveled to Grozny, Chechnya to hold an evangelistic summer day camp for Chechen children.
There have been summers where the sounds of exploding bombs were a backdrop to teaching and singing, and armed security guards patrolled camps.
“Nowadays it’s calm in Chechnya. Still our pilgrims feel a bit uneasy,” reports Gennady Terkun, Russian Ministries’ ministry director in Vladikavkaz, Russia.
While fighting in Chechnya has eased, many children are still affected by the war. Marina, a young Christian leader from Vladikavkaz, asked the children to draw pictures of their homes and families. One girl turned in a blank sheet of paper, with the caption: “This is my house.”
Moved to tears, Marina was even more motivated to share with the campers the hope that Jesus gives, and to help them understand the peace of God.
Victor traveled from Chisinau, Moldova to help with the children’s camp in Grozny. “I’m very thankful to the Lord for the chance to join the team that was bound for Grozny,” says Victor. “My attitude to this country has changed. The news reports on Chechnya are often one-sided, but the campers helped change my attitudes about them and their country!”
As a father, Victor was touched when the young campers would rest their heads on his shoulder, and show other signs of affection. “We were able to show these children that the world is not as cruel as they might think it, and they were able to show me that I shouldn’t judge a whole country because of one tragic event, or horrible things done by a small group of terrorists.” (Victor was referring to the Beslan school tragedy that took place in 2004.)
Even when the campers figured out that their camp leaders were Christians, not Muslims, the children kept returning to camp. “We played with them and talked with them a lot,” recalls Victor, “and they shared with us their impressions of camp, their worries as well as their Chechen traditions.”
Your online gift to Russian Ministries’ evangelistic summer camps helps build these bridges to Muslim families today.