How your support changed lives this summer!
At 98 different Russian Ministries evangelistic camps across the former Soviet Union this summer — in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova, and Central Asia — children gathered from broken homes, orphanages, and situations of abuse and misery. And where the Communist regime once indoctrinated boys and girls in the worship of state and duty, your support helped 8,554 children and youth discover freedom and love in Christ!
“Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it,” the Bible tells us in Proverbs 22:6 (ESV).
Summer camps are our most effective strategic mission tool reaching out to children and youth in the countries of the former Soviet Union, from the poverty of inner-city Moldova to the war-torn towns of Chechnya. Most of the children who attend come from non-Christian homes. Many are from a Muslim background, or Buddhist, or atheist.
But at camp, they have the opportunity to discover God’s love, learn from His Word, and grow in their faith under the caring guidance of young Next Generation Christian leaders. An estimated 20% of our campers make the decision to trust in Jesus at camp, while the rest are sown with the seed of the gospel! These boys, girls, and teens will someday become Next Generation leaders themselves, so it’s important to give them a strong foundation now.
For the young men and women leading each camp, this is also a crucial time to put into practice the ministry lessons learned during their School Without Walls (SWW) classes. This hands-on immersion in children’s outreach helps build their confidence in sharing their faith, and launch them into a future of service to God, their churches, and their communities.
The “least of these”
For example, in Poltava, Ukraine, Russian Ministries teamed up with Samaritan’s Purse to create a summer camp for 55 children living with HIV and special needs. Most Ukrainians know little about HIV, despite the fact that the country has one of the fastest growth rates of HIV/AIDS in the world, so these children live under a daily cloud of fear and stigma. But at camp, they were surrounded by God’s love as they did crafts, sang Bible songs, and learned about Jesus. For once, they felt wanted and accepted—a wonderful witness to them and to their families.
Putting faith into practice
Kabardino-Balkaria, in the Northern Caucasus, is often in the news — as a breeding-ground for suicide bombers and a hotbed of Al-Qaeda indoctrination of young boys. But at the Russian Ministries summer camp, your generosity brought the Prince of Peace and a message of hope for the future.
Oksana, a SWW student who helped lead the camp in Kabardino-Balkaria, reports that, “I was greatly helped by knowledge gained through SWW, which I graduated from this year. I called to mind what our teachers had taught us about children’s ministry, which really helped me. We became close friends with the children during the camp. There were three children from a needy family who were on their guard at first, like animals. But during camp they were transformed into thankful listeners. They were grateful for every piece of candy and every kind word. By the end of the camp they were completely ours, and parted with us with great sadness. You could tell that they didn’t want the camp to end.”
These stories, and hundreds more, show how the lives of both campers and leaders were transformed by Russian Ministries evangelistic summer camps. And it doesn’t stop there! Our bold young Next Generation Christian leaders will use the foundation of camp as a bridge to build strong relationships with the campers and their families.
We know from experience that many of these boys, girls, and teens will come to church for Sunday School and other programs, and soon, they’ll be bringing their families along. In this way, the simple seed planted at summer camp can reach whole communities! Thank you for giving so many children this time to explore God’s love for them and learn to trust Him for the rest of their lives.