From 27 to 31 of July 2016 the next camp for teenagers and young people was held. It was located in a beautiful place near the lake and forest in Orsha region in Belarus as in 2015. This year we were able to take 80 participants and helpers. The team tried to create optimal conditions in which young people from very different backgrounds could get a good rest and listen to the important truths that can change their lives. Whether the participant came from a big city or a small village, they could see that all have difficulties in their life and equally are in need of Christ.
The camp was attended by children from large families, disadvantaged and single-parent families, low-income families as well as members with disabilities. There were children who already attend church, someone raised in a Christian family, and someone who lives with his unbelievers’ parents. There were also those who first came to the Christian camp and heard about God. By the reason that all participants are at different stages of a relationship with God, one of the important goals of this camp was counseling. The staff tried to establish contact and trusting relationship with each participant in order to understand their needs and requirements and help each precisely in his situation. Someone was in Christian environment and heard Scripture for the first time. Others may have heard a lot, but needed not make a decisive step to God and repentance. For believers, the children had a lot of topical issues of the growth in the faith, the ministry of testimony in their families and among their friends, about how to cope with difficulties and not lose hope.
The team’s members specially formed so that they were children of different ages with different family circumstances and different levels of living. For many at first it was not very comfortable, but had a huge effect, when they could see and realize that children from different families and any age can experience similar difficult situations, experiencing similar feelings and need help, as well as what God works in everyone’s life. Children learned to accept each other, to acknowledge the needs of others, to share, to help, and even just to show attention. All Biblical themes were chosen for the same purpose – to help young people find answers to pressing questions for them about their importance to God and the responsibility for the acceptance of Christ in their lives.
The fact that the camp has effected the lives of its members we could see from behavior of children as well as from their reviews. We would like to present some extracts from their letters:
|Luba Zholudeva (family with unbelieving parents): "I liked the topics that were covered in the meetings. These topics were very important to me. I was touched by the movie about Father’s love and a sermon about it. I did not sleep the whole night! I imagined that runner from the movie was me. I fell, but God raised me. I realized that I have to do everything to the maximum and trust God. God has changed my attitude to many things."|
|Kolia Demidchik (from a large family): "It's very nice to be in a friendly and caring environment, together with the team be involved in the sports, performances, games, meditation and prayer. Very grateful for the spiritual food, for a new look at old things ... God talked a lot to my heart in that camp. "|
|Sasha Arkhipova (girl with disabilities, from broken family with drinking mother): "Despite some difficulties and trials I'm here ... I realized that we are all different, and I'm too special, so the Lord has created what I am. I became more open. I discovered here even more of my new talents... I thank you for your compliments, support and understanding."|
|Katya Ivanshina (from a large family, refugees from Kazakhstan): "It was my first time in this camp... During these days we were very close, we were constantly together, helped each other in any situation. I also liked the camp leaders - they were so kind and loyal to all, respected each member of our team! I also really liked to worship our Lord, liked the sermons and those who spoke at the meeting. These sermons really touched my soul! After each session, I was always thinking about something valuable and important for me... This camp was really important for me, for my soul! "|
|Danila Prokopenkov (from a Christian family): "This year was a lot of interesting topics... I just strongly appreciated that God is amazing. His wisdom is simply no end... This word gave me a push in the struggle against sin, reminded me that I'm valuable... Well, how many advices I received about relationships and family life - difficult to count. In general, the camp has brought great benefit to me. "|
|Vasia Baranov (from a small village of unbelieving parents’ family, drinking heavily): "The most important thing – there was a lot of praying to God! Here I found many friends. We were taught how to properly act in accordance to the Word of God! This camp was free from frown, anger and some resentment... I wish this camp will continue to exist! In it a boy or a girl take on the true meaning of life - is to believe and glorify God, to live for Him. Thank you for this opportunity to visit this wonderful camp! "|
Months of preparation and these five unforgettable days have affected both the life of the young participants and to all the leaders and helpers. All teenagers are very different, each with its own history, and not all easy to find an approach, especially on such short period. Great joy to hear feedback from staff when they were told about the changes in their teams, about how children gradually get used to each other, begin to trust adults and to the end of the camp already perceive their team as small family where everyone is important and everyone has a place. They were asking many questions about faith in God and a relationship with Him. In connection with this, a very special event happened in the camp – the repentance of nine children. In memory of this important day, we gave them the Bible. Similarly, many children who are already believers, prayed about upgrading their relationship with God.
Nobody wanted to go home, although many already missed their families. The existing relationship of trust between children and adults are of great importance, teenagers know that there are people of faith from the Church who care about their lives. All participants said they plan to attend church and Sunday school when return home. In particular, it was good to hear it from the new children who first came to the Christian camp. The fact that the staff came from different cities and a good advantage of it is that we have the opportunity to maintain contact with the children at their places of residence and continue pastoral work. Also, participants are looking forward to the after-camp meeting to get together and remember the wonderful time spent in the camp.
Besides Bible lessons a big game program for the participants was organized. Children could express themselves both in sports and in the tasks on logic. In many competitions, tasks were arranged the way the children could learned to work in a team, support each other, to realize that together they can achieve much better results, used their abilities to help the weaker members of the team. Many games have become a great opportunity for the participants to show their Christian qualities, sacrifice towards other teams and participants. It was an excellent illustration of many Biblical truths in action.
Talking about the arrangement of the campsite, it was equipped with comfortable tourist tents to live in. All had their own soft sleeping bags. There was a separate huge tent for camp events, which was also used as a shelter from the sun or rain. We had a field kitchen and dining room. It is important that this year we had the opportunity to improve the delivery method of drinking water, with a special 1 t. container. Good food and comfortable accommodation of the participants in the camp was a very important task for the camp staff as usual. Many children, especially those from large families or dysfunctional families do not have enough opportunities for recreation, eating enough of good food. Thanks to the camp, it was all provided to them for a while. Almost every child in his review of the camp, wrote about how good and tasty we fed him, and how he liked it here.
We should mention one unexpected situation in the camp. It was very strong storm that caught us late in the evening near to the end of the camp. In the camp conditions, very strong winds and heavy rains can cause great harm. For all participants of the camp it was a great testimony that God kept safe children and adults, and that the tents were almost not affected. The team has worked very quickly and correctly, the children were sheltered from the weather and waited out the storm in a large tent. Some of the children were taken to spend the night in the building of the local church. There was no panic, and had a lot of prayers and songs to the glory of God. The next day, none of the participants did not want to leave the camp and return home, and all together helped to dry the wet things and put things in order in the territory. Children said that it was an unforgettable event and clear evidence of God’s impotence, His love, care and answers to their prayers, and that it was the best camp of their lifes.
On behalf of all participants and staff, we would like to give thanks to all the friends, brothers and sisters in Christ in Sweden, who supported the camp with their prayers and generous donations. It was an unforgettable time for all children and adults. We believe that God’s truths which was heard and experienced here will be useful for the spiritual growth of the children and will bring many more good evidence and fruits in the future.
— With love in Christ,