Above left: places we are running summer camps in 2016; Right: A summer camp this year
Global Action train church leaders across Ukraine. Alongside leading their churches, the leaders we’ve trained often go on to set up compassion projects. Because our leaders know their communities so well, they are best placed to run projects which meet physical and spiritual needs within their communities.
Many of our partner churches work alongside state-run orphanages, where a lack of funding means conditions are grim and outdated. Here, our churches are attending to social and emotional needs not being met by state-providers.
Some of the worst conditions are found in orphanages for disabled children, where the soviet attitude of “hiding away” these children endures. In these places our partner churches seek to ‘be Jesus’ to disabled children, showing them His love through kindness and acts of service.
One way they are demonstrating this is by providing fun and exciting summer camps, where the children are immersed into an environment of love and acceptance. This year many of our partners in Ukraine have been running summer camps for disadvantaged and disabled children. These camps are really important because they provide children who have experienced the worst that life has to offer a place to experience love and healing. Teams of volunteers from partner churches work really hard to put together a creative and exciting array of games and lessons for the children who attend the camps.
We are beginning to hear reports back about the summer camps being run across the country. And what we’re hearing is so inspiring! So far 258 children have accepted Christ at these camps, and many more have been truly blessed by the love and support of committed and caring volunteers from our partner churches. Here are some of their testimonies:
Andrei Vosyk, 12 y.o. disabled orphan
“The word Camp became my favourite four-letter word and my favourite time. The people of the camp staff were so nice. The camp became a shelter for me. I could play and listened to Bibles morning lessons and it was so good and interesting to me.”
As well as disabled orphans, many children who have been displaced by the violence in the East of Ukraine have also been able to attend these camps. We are so pleased to be able to offer these children a refuge in a turbulent and unfamiliar time in their lives. Here are some of their testimonies.
Mykola (aged 13)
Mykola is a boy from a family who fled from the war zone and recently moved to a small town where Pastor Vladimir Burkovtsov was running a summer camp. He was able to attend the camp and shares his experience:
“I would never imaging that church people would invite me to this camp. I thank my mother that she trusted these people and let me go here. What is amazing about this camp is that it helped me to find friends in an unknown town where I did not have any friends. Interesting that pastor Vladimir told me that Jesus can also be my friend. I hear a lot about Him. I will come to their youth group after the camp.”
Pastor Vasyl Vorobets, pastor Hosanna Church, Dubilyany
Pastor Vasyl’s church arranged a 7-day camp in the Carpathian Mountains for 53 teenagers. At the camp they put on Quests, Water sports, English Lessons, Skits, Art and Crafts, Talent Shows and Morning Bible Lessons. He shares:
“There were 53 children [at the camp], including some children who had lost their parents due to the violence in Eastern Ukraine, children from disabled families, and orphans from the orphanage we have been working closely with over the last year. We tried to get to know the children really well over the 7-day camp, to bring them to the point where they could decide on their own to dedicate their lives to Christ. I am happy that 28 children prayed to receive Christ as their Saviour. We will continue meeting with them after the summer camp too.”
Bohdan (aged 10)
At the kids camp I loved singing. Football was also fun. Another good memory is when some of the older counsellors would tell us campers chilling stories from the Bible. They are better than thrillers. Especially about David and Goliath. I also loved the campfire. It was so awesome singing by the fire and looking up to see the big stars in the sky.”
The churches will build on the relationships developed during the camps as they continue to minister at their local orphanages over the coming year. They will also disciple those that gave their lives to Christ. Please pray for them as they carry out this vital work over the coming year.