Thursday, Anton took me and Taryn to the original Camp Druzhba (Druzhba is the Russian word for Friendship). Right now we are having camp at the orphanage because the scope of having it at the official camp was larger than GtU can manage at the moment. Having gone there yesterday, however, I am so motivated to move the camp back to its original location. We are putting together a video about camp and its importance to this region. We interviewed Anton while at the camp site and toured the new dorms. Many improvements have been made. What was sad, however, was that when the last missionary who was leading camp left Ukraine, the coal mine, who owns the camp site, took down all signs of previous Christian influence. The stage painting of Jesus welcoming little children had been replaced with a painting of a lion and a turtle. The sign outside the gate touting Camp Druzhba as a Christian camp for children had been taken down.
Fortunately, however, Christianity is not about signs and paintings. The evidences of Christian influence at Camp Druzhba continue in more profound and meaningful ways. Anton, himself, attended camp there; became a Christ follower through translating and is now the camp organizer. Many of our interpreters here now attended Camp Druzhba over the years; learned English; heard the gospel and are now following Christ and sharing the gospel with the next generation of children. Many of our campers are here because they have attended previously or they heard about us over the years. Since 1998, seeds of the gospel have been planted at Camp Druzhba and we are privileged to see the fruit. This encourages me greatly and I can tell you that GtU is not about to leave this place. Certainly, if God were to call us to go elsewhere, we would be obedient. But right now, we are firmly planted here and will do all we can, by God’s grace, to continue to water the seeds planted over the years.
God continues to move here. Children are hungry to know the Word. Relationships have been built over the years that we must continue to nourish. We see kids everyday that we met 6, 7, or 8 years ago. The community benefits financially as well as spiritually from our presence here. We have been on TV, and we try to take advantage of that notoriety, all for the glory of God. The people here are entrenched in legalism and superstition. Most cannot begin to comprehend the grace of God that saves them and keeps them. But then again, neither did I for many years. Please pray for these people. These children. For GtU and its team to have wisdom, discernment and perseverance. We hear stories daily from orphans and other children that are gut wrenching. The weight of it all can be staggering as we try to accept that we cannot fix every problem or save every child. We must simply be obedient to God’s call to be here; to share the Gospel, and trust that He is doing things we cannot yet see. Just like those before us.