Just got back from an awesome kids camp! It was located in a village 1.5 hrs away called Zvenihorodka. This was a 10-day kids camp geared at sharing the gospel, building relationships and investing in kids ages 7-13. Last year was my first experience with this camp and I had the opportunity to meet the church behind it. Here is the story: The pastor of a charismatic church in Zvenihorodka wanted to start a kids camp for underprivileged kids in their community. They purchased an old dormitory used to house workers for the local sugar factory. The factory has been closed for 40 years and the dormitory was in desperate shape. The city was going to demolish it but the pastor bought it for $3000. The building has no running water, or plumbing or heat. The ceiling leaks as the roof is in desperate need of repair. Last year we came a week early to clean and repair as much as we could so we could have our first kids camp there. We painted and patched holes, I drew murals on the walls, and we all cleaned the rooms in preparation.
Sixty kids were transported to this small village to learn of God's love, forgiveness, and salvation. I brought Josie with me while Christy was at home with Jaden, Jeremy and Justin. This year as we transported the kids to camp, we noticed there had been more renovations done. The local church had received a donation from America which allowed them to fix the leaky ceilings and paint the stairs and corridor. They also made another outhouse and put in two outside showers. It really made a big difference. For 10 days, our youth group would be the counselors and kids were assigned to teams according to age groups. The counselors slept in the room with the kids on mattresses and led Bible lessons with them during the day. Meals were prepared by two sisters from the local church while other members would come in to serve and clean on shifts. I shared the main message each night based on the days lessons. The meetings included worship, skits, a message and a daily slideshow of pictures and video taken throughout the day. Alyona, who runs the children's ministry at our church, directed the camp.
Looking back, it was a wonderful experience to watch kids come to know Jesus, be challenged in their faith and watch unity in action. It really blessed me to see two churches from different backgrounds working together in unity. The goal was not our religious expressions, but to serve these kids and share the love of God with them. And that's what we did! We grew in our love and friendships, served with our eyes on Jesus, and watched God do His work in their lives. Shouldn't all Christian ministry be like that?