Camp brings healing to kids in war zones

August 2023 – Our summer camp on the Black Sea has just ended.  73 people took part, including adults and children from Ukraine, Armenia, and America.  Thank you so much to our generous supporters who made this camp possible!  We left the camp in tears, but not because of leaving the beautiful sunsets, but because of the beauty of God working in our hearts.  Some found faith for the first time, others rededicated their lives, and many experienced His deep touch in the midst of trauma.  You have made these miracles possible.

(The kids, families, and orphans came from areas such as Nagorno-Karabakh and Ukraine.) 

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.  Galatians 6:9

The Ultimate Problem in This Life

Early in the camp, we heard from Daniel Nunez, (our son-in-law) who shared a clear and impactful message of the gospel.

“We are sinners.  We have pride, jealousy, and many selfish desires.  But God gave His son Jesus, who lived a sinless and perfect life, and crucified him on the cross, for the forgiveness of our sins.  This is good news!  That God has made a way for us to know Him.  We are healed and made right only by God.  Today we can call the God of all creation, ‘our father’.  One day there will be no more pain, no more tears, and no more sorrow.  But until that day comes when we meet Him face to face, he uses our problems and our sorrows for our good.  The good is that we become more like Jesus and that Christ is being formed in us.”

Daniel continued, “Yesterday, Yulia shared that ‘war is not good.’  But at the end of the year, she stopped to look back and reflect on the good in her life.  She was a refugee, separated from her husband.  And yet, God has used the war in Yulia’s life to make her more like Jesus.  In the same way, God uses our problems to make us more like Jesus.  So let’s see our problems as a gift that God uses to make us more like Jesus.  Until that day comes when we stand before God the Father, I pray that God will comfort you with your problems.  And know that God wants to use you in the lives of others, even in the midst of your own problems.”

Singing Hallelujah in Armenian

Our cooks in the camp came from Armenia, some of them with their children.  One lady, Lusine, was a refugee from Nagorno-Karabakh.  We supplied her with groceries and clothing on a previous visit to Armenia, and now we could offer her a small job for 10 days.  We had no idea, however, that she was a graduate of bible school.

Lusine’s husband refused to allow faith in their household.  Her situation at home is quite difficult.  Lusine however, rediscovered the joy of her faith during the camp, and one afternoon, began singing Hallelujah to the Lord with her kids.  The team harmonized in Armenian and English.

The older Armenian boys, reluctant to take part in the camp, kept their distance. Their families have endured pain and poverty from the war in Karabakh.  However, by the end of camp, God had softened their hearts.

“They have fun like a therapy”

“Jeff,” a Ukrainian mother said, “Here in the camp we don’t have air raid sirens.  Our children don’t wake up at night screaming.  They go to the sea every day.  They make tie-dye shirts, they eat healthy food, and they sing songs.  They laugh.  They have fun like a therapy.  We learn about God.  This is like a paradise for us.  We will never forget it.  Thank you so much!”

Tie-Dye shirts and lots of love

Vika, an Armenian counselor, had previously been a teenager in our camp.  She came to faith and now wants to give back to young people.  Yana, from our Ukraine staff, actually led this camp, assisted by our director Yulia and members of the American team.  God’s love was tangible throughout the week.

They Call Her Mama

The Ukrainian orphans arrived the first day uncertain of what to expect.  They didn’t know anybody,

“Mama, can we go with our group to the water?”  The girls asked.

“We are like a family,” the director Nelia said.  “We have been through so much together.  We are together 24/7.  I am like their mama.  We are safe now, but we are isolated.  This camp has brought us so much joy.  Thank you to everyone on your team.”

Sometimes we can grow weary in doing good, in serving God.  But in the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.  Thank you for supporting these kids from the war zones.