Evangelistic Camps Havens in Violent Northern Caucasus
Russian Ministries’ evangelistic summer camps and sports day camps were havens of peace and hope in the Northern Caucasus region that was rocked with violence this summer.
Altogether, 1,300 children were involved in summer camp programs in Ingushetia, North Ossetia, South Ossetia and even Grozny, Chechnya, where terrorist attacked the parliment building this week.
School Without Walls students and graduates from Vladikavkaz put their training in cross-cultural studies and Muslim ministries to practice this summer as they encountered, and with God’s help, overcame ethnic tensions and cultural barriers at Russian Ministries’ evangelistic summer camps and special sports events.
Two camps—one in June and one in August—for refugee children living in Vladikakaz were bookends for the Northern Caucasus summer evangelistic camp ministry.
“Over the course of [the summer] we saw changes in every child,” reports Gennady Terkun, ministry director for the Northern Caucasus region. “The changes were not always big, but they were significant in the eyes of God, and the camp staff who invested so much love into the children.”
At the beginning of one of the refugee camps, Katya was an easy target for her fellow campers’ teasing. And when they weren’t teasing her, the children excluded her—a burden for a young girl whose father was dead, and whose mother was disabled.
As the week went on and the children discovered God’s Word and got to know Jesus better, the negative atmosphere changed. The School Without Walls students at the camp saw this as a step forward in not only building personal relationships but also in building bridges across ethnic divides in this region.
The summer camp in South Ossetia started out with a visit from local law enforcement officials who came to “investigate” the camp. But all the investigation turned up was caring young Christian leaders, who wanted to share Jesus’ love with their campers.
Nine-year-old Zira lives with her grandmother in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia. “My mom ran away to Tbilisi, Georgia, and lives there with my brother,” Zira says almost matter-of-factly. “No one wanted to be friends with me because my mom is Georgian.” That was the case until Zira was invited to the summer camp in
a village in South Ossetia.
“At camp, I learned that Jesus loves everyone,” exclaims Zira, “and I became friends with Diana and
Zhorik from Vladikavkaz. I have a lot of friends who also love Jesus!”
It was a difficult summer for the evangelistic camp in Grozny, Chechnya. Demands from local Chechen authorities and security issues prevented the team from Vladikavkaz from even traveling to Chechnya, but Next Generation Christians from Grozny stepped up to run the the evangelistic summer camp. Even
though some parents reacted negatively to the Bible lessons,
Yuri, a missionary and young Christan leader from Grozny, and another Christian leader whose daughters were students at the first School Without Walls program in Grozny, gave away 60 children’s Bibles and some New Testaments in the Chechen language. We are thankful that Yuri holds a lot of events for children and adults throughout the year.
• Continue to pray for the School Without Walls students from Vladikavkaz, other young Next
Generation Christian leaders and volunteers from local churches who gave their time, talent and
treasure to these summer camps.
• Pray especially for Project Hope, Russian Ministries’ Christmas outreach and gift distribution,
as young Christian leaders bring hope and peace to this violent region.
• Pray for Gennady T. as he oversees ministry in the Northern Caucasus region. Pray that Christians will be peacemakers as they share Jesus’ love across cultural and ethnic lines.
in the turbulent Northern Caucasus region as it transforms nations,
one child at a time.