Imagine that you left the country of your birth and heritage seven decades ago, fleeing to save your life and that of those you love. You were just a child then, but you had seen more hatred and death than anyone ever should. Since then, you’ve lived a lifetime away, pushing the horrors you saw there deep into your memory. Imagine that all these years later, you have a chance to journey back – to see the land of your birth once again.
The Holocaust Survivors Camp is a retreat for those who don’t have to imagine this story – they’ve lived it. They are Jews that were children in Poland during Hitler’s overthrow of the country, attempting to eliminate a race and a faith. They know the Old Testament better than any of us, understanding the things it reveals about God in a way that would amaze those of us to call ourselves Christians. But they are missing an important piece. To them, Jesus was a prophet and a teacher, but nothing more. They are still looking for the Messiah. Because of this, though they know who God is and have studied His words, they are lost. “Jesus answered, ‘I am the truth, the way and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
Showing them the truth isn’t easy, either. They are the Chosen Ones, and we are gentiles. Many of them hold to their Jewish heritage, but walked away a lifetime ago from putting faith in a God that they feel abandoned them – allowing their families to be taken from them with such violence. Many want nothing to do with God, and they certainly don’t want to be told that the Messiah came two thousand years ago and died for their sins.
Now shift gears a few generations, as we welcome children and youth workers from Ukraine for 10 days of Bible teaching, prayer, worship, crafts, activities and lots of laughs. These children have seen their share of horrors as well, living as refugees and many of them orphaned by the war with Russia. For these ten days, they get to experience love, fun and hope before they journey back to the reality they live in.
These mission trips are a journey back for the Porters as well. Ben served on a short-term mission team in 2009 to the camp in Ostróda. He returned with Rachel in 2012, this time getting the opportunity to visit a couple local Christian Churches as well as working with the Holocaust survivors at Ostróda Camp. In 2013, Anna and Ethan (ages 9 & 6 at the time) joined what has become a family ministry, spending the month of June each year since and until God tells us he has other plans for us. We hope they will take such journeys throughout their lives… spreading God’s Word wherever He leads them.
Although our opportunity is so limited, we want to serve God by lovingly reaching out to these special people – a generation that is soon to be lost forever and a new generation rising up to bring God’s light and hope to the future. We invite you to join us in prayer and support. If you are able, financial assistance is also needed to make this short-term mission possible.