Dreams Come True for Armenia’s Youth
Republic of Georgia: The camp for young people from Armenia echoed with laughter, soccer balls, singing and folk dancing. 45 young people from 12-16 years of age spent 10 days near the Black Sea hearing about the love of Jesus. Indeed, this was a dream come true for most of the kids.
Many swam in the ocean for the first time. Every day included English lessons, arts and crafts, Bible discussions, devotions, great food, poetry and music. Some of the kids arrived with just a single change of clothes. The tie-dye t-shirt project was a big hit, adding an extra shirt to go back home. Thank you to our many sponsors who make these camps possible!
Living in an Abandoned Train Car
A young man named Pasha attended the summer camp and loves to play soccer. He is 15-years-old, one of four children, and comes from a loving family. Due to unemployment and general poverty in Armenia, Pasha’s family is forced to live in an abandoned train car. Our Mercy Projects team visited them and others like them in Armenia prior to the summer camp.
Brooke, a photographer on the team, shared: “My first impression visiting these families was shock and sadness. Pasha and the kids were shy, not making eye contact. I now realize how important these summer camps are for the kids.”
MP sponsors Marty and Launa from Arizona added: “For us it was a very sobering experience. The poverty of these families is dire. We want to help Mercy Projects expand in Armenia.”
Several days later, however, the kids from this region of Armenia were having a great time. Brooke shared: “It seems like the kids come to camp, take a deep breath, and get to take a break from living in their ‘survival mode’ at home. It was so fun to see them smiling, playing, laughing and dancing at camp.”
10 days of going to the ocean, singing songs, having a campfire or barbecuing “shashlik” are like rays of sunshine in the kid’s lives. Camp is more than a fun diversion from hunger and poverty. Kids experience hope and return home with the knowledge that God loves them and that He is with them everyday. Camp is like a dream come true.
Mayor’s Office Asks for Help
Pasha’s parents do not have jobs. Unemployment is very high in this remote region of Armenia. The train car is cold in winter. To make things worse his mother has cerebral palsy. The mayor in this region has invited Mercy Projects to help care for needy children there. He is grateful for the summer camp opportunities we provide. They would like us to establish private, non-governmental family-type homes for the neediest children like the families we visited. The goal would be to provide proper shelter, nutrition, and education while keeping families intact and involved as much as possible.
Summer Ministry Fund Shortfall
Our team also visited a mother with her five children. She needed $20 to pay for one month’s rent. They had not eaten in the last 24 hours. Their situation was desperate. The mother, Christina, is valiantly trying to keep her family together. She does not want to lose her children to an orphanage. Mercy Projects “family-type homes” would benefit Christina and other families like hers who cannot support themselves.
Additional funding would be needed to start a new project in Armenia, but it is something we are praying about.
Supporting these families in their time of need is what the Scripture means in Proverbs to, “speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves…and defend the rights of the poor and needy.”
In the middle of July we learned that over 100 additional children would be attending summer camps sponsored by Mercy Projects. In addition, many requests for extra help have caused an unanticipated ministry fund shortfall. Please pray. We could not say “No” to the extra campers thus we are standing in faith believing that God will provide. We need an additional $25,000 to meet the extra summer ministry needs.
Please help us as we “speak up” for the poor and share the gospel of hope. Jesus does make dreams come true!
PS – Please pray for Pasha and his family. His soccer coach noticed he was clearly the best player on the team and offered to send him to a soccer academy if he committed himself to work hard. Of course he jumped at the chance.