Ukrainian Children’s Camp

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It is hard to find time to write during the weeks of children’s camps, so I hope you’ve all been enjoying the picture videos of each day.  If you’ve missed them, here is a link to the share site I made:

What. A.  Week.  Since the team from Hillside Christian had the lead on the lessons, crafts, etc. I was able to spend a little more time just hugging and enjoying kids this time.  ♥  What amazing children.  So many of them, like my sweet Ania, have lost parents to the war and/or have been uprooted from their homes.  Their stories make my heart hurt.  Our goal this week has been to make sure every child leaves knowing that God created them and loves them – by teaching Bible lessons, through worship, and pouring as much love into them as we possibly can.  This morning, Sandy shared about one of the boys that stood to make a commitment this week.   It sums up well what we hope has been happening in the hearts and minds of all of these children.

Sandy Hatfield's photo.Meet Daniil — one of the boys on my team at the Ukrainian refugee children’s camp. Even at his young age, Daniil is a deep thinker. This morning he was one of many who stood to say he wanted to come closer to God. Afterwards he told a few of us that before he came to camp he believed 3 things:

  1. Money is everything
  2. Evil will win
  3. People are cruel

He went on to say that during this camp his thinking has changed. Now he knows that there are people who are not cruel, that God and His goodness will win in the end, and that money isn’t everything — God is everything. So thankful for Daniil — I will miss this boy.

Daniil was an emotional mess (as most of us were) this morning saying our goodbyes.  I don’t know what sort of life he’s returning to, or if he’ll have any support in his new growing faith, and that’s what makes saying goodbye so hard.  I spent some time talking with one of the Ukrainian leaders yesterday.   Galina told me that they have tried to get many of these children to their own church and camp, but their parents won’t let them go.  She said many people in Ukraine are Orthodox Catholic.  Most aren’t really practicing the faith, but they were raised in it and consider it their religion.  She says this means they have been taught at an early age that protestantism is a cult, and that if their child decided to be baptized they would be sinning because they were already sprinkled as an infant.  This is their interpretation of Ephesians 4:5.  So they will not let their children attend anything related to the protestant churches. But when the opportunity arises to go to another country… it’s a different story.  They feel this is a worthwhile experience for their child, so they soften their stance against the Christian church and allow them to come.   Galina’s eyes welled up with tears as she was telling me that she just wishes we had more time because there is so much more she wants them to learn, and she knows that for so many these 7 days might be the only time they will ever hear it.   So please pray with me for them
God, please watch over these amazing children.  Seeds have been planted and watered with love, but now they are going back to a war-torn country and many to unhealthy or shattered families.  Please provide them with good soil for their faith to take root.   Protect them from the weeds and birds that will seek to destroy it.  Let the faith of these children change their parents  – that they too can come to know that The Creator loves them deeply and wants a personal relationship with them.  Soften their hearts and open their eyes to see that the church is good and teaching the love of the same God they believe in.  I pray these kids and many others will be able to journey back to Ostroda next year, so we can fill them up again and lead them on the next steps in their walk with You.   Thank You for letting us be a part of the miracles You worked this week.  My heart is so full.  
For Your Glory,
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Kids who made commitments this week!

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