Breaking Out For Summer Camp
Ministry Update from Jeff – Thank you for your faithful support during this time of COVID-19. We are doing our best to keep funds flowing to the sponsorship ministries and other projects. After months of lockdown, kids in Ukraine can’t wait to be together for our annual summer camps. After 25 years of camp ministry, this pandemic has made us realize how significant the camp ministry really is. Thanks again for standing with us to turn at-risk young people into followers of Christ. (This month Yana and Zhenya in our Kyiv, Ukraine office update us about summer camp.)
Ukraine online ministry blossoms but they yearn to be together
During the past few months our team has been doing all they can to provide discipleship and encouragement through online gatherings. Camp coordinator Yana Glushko says while this has been very effective, they are looking forward to being together again in person.
“Every day on Instagram we have Biblical thoughts, encouraging videos, challenges and quests. We also had a live broadcast of worship. That really inspired teenagers and encouraged them; and now we are planning online worship for them every Friday night.
“But unfortunately, many or most of the children at home don’t have access to the internet. They are limited in communication with us. They really look forward to being together and love the encouragement they feel. Some say they can’t wait to break out of captivity!”
Starving for real fellowship
Camp Counselor Zhenya Shevchenko added, “The kids are starving for real fellowship in person. We all dream about meeting together on a weekly basis. It is a big part of our discipleship approach.”
Zhenya has served as a counselor for almost 20 years. She knows personally how the Lord works in the hearts of the kids; and she has seen the remarkable impact these camps have on teens.
“That first camp in 2001 was special in many ways,” Zhenya said. “It opened my eyes to Christian ministry with teens and children as a natural, social, evangelizing process. I became close friends with several teens from my group and discipled some of them for many years. Even today (19 years later!) we still remain friends.
“In particular I became a mentor, sort of an older friend to two girls Vasylyna and Lesya, and two boys Sergey and Gena. I did Bible studies with them and we had many good talks about God and life.
“Vasylyna is from a very dysfunctional family. For a year or two she came to me every week. I helped her to bring up her grades at school. As a result, she chose to study linguistics and English at the Institute. I’ve always encouraged the young people to seek God first in their lives, and of course to study hard.
“Gena Myasnikov, for example, also had a difficult family life and was almost abandoned. He struggled at school but at camp he met God. His life changed and every time I would see him he would ask some deep questions about faith. He became a faithful part of my church youth group and became a good friend.
“I believe that the Lord has honored Gena’s dedication. Today he has a diploma and works as a chef at a fancy restaurant in Kyiv. He works hard and he follows the Lord. I love to look back at their lives. It is amazing and encouraging to see how God is faithful to those who seek Him,” Zhenya said.
Quarantine is like prison for teens
Yana Glushko is the Mercy Projects camp ministry director and coordinates much of the work with at-risk teens. She said that she thought that this year’s camp will be like an “oasis” for the kids after their isolation.
“I see our camps as an island!” She said. “After arrival, the children separate themselves from their everyday life and can relax, trust, hear, and see how the Lord takes care of them. They experience God’s love by being together at camp. As counselors, we do our best to share with the kids what we have gone through in our lives. Some of our counselors were sponsored kids coming to camp. We understand them.”.
Investing $150 per camper to develop Christian leaders
Send a Child to Camp
Zhenya told us, “Unfortunately, less than half of our kids in the MP program were technically able to join our online meetings. But they all are longing to go to camp this summer. The lockdown has caused a bigger spiritual hunger.”
Discipleship is an investment in eternity. $150 per camper helps cover most of the costs and 200 kids desire to attend a summer camp. With your help, we will disciple them to become followers of Jesus.