Gospel for Nations Ministry

Christian children’s camp “City of Friendship”
Summer of 2009

I have always had a desire to serve God. I remember how my cousin and I coming home from church dreamed of becoming missionaries. Yes, these were childhood dreams, but they remained in my mind for quite a long time with only visions about their fulfillment changing. The last few years I often found myself thinking of going on a missionary trip with a youth group, but I did not tell this to anyone.

Last year in August, chatting with our youth group while having tea, each of us shared our dreams and passions with one another. When my turn came, I suddenly unexpectedly for myself started talking about my wish for going on a missionary trip with a youth group and thus serve God. The youth got interested in this idea and in a month we decided for sure to go to Ukraine and organize camps for children of primarily non-Christian parents, to visit an orphanage and help needy families. We started praying and preparing for the trip. The youth group from California also helped us with this.

Taking a little break from what I was telling you about, I want to introduce ourselves. We live in the United States in the state of Florida and the city of Palm Coast. Our church is not quite big, and, of course, we don’t have a large youth group either—there are only 14 of us in the youth. Our pastor is Peter Nesteruk.

Since we did not have anyone to sponsor us, we were forced to raise funds ourselves in order to have the opportunity to do what we have planned. We designed posters describing our objectives for the trip and also pasted a few photographs of our youth and the kids. On Saturdays we washed cars on the parking lots of banks and supermarkets and also stood by the entrances to the stores with donation boxes and posters. All of us were participating and even the children 10-12 years old from our church helped us. We did not set a particular price for a car wash—people donated as much as they were able and willing to. Also, by the entrances into the stores many people donated. Our fundraisers started in late September in 2008 and ended in mid-May in 2009. During this time we had around 25 days of work done and our Lord not only opened the hearts of people to donate, but also sent many people to bless us, give us valuable advice and even pray for us and the success of our ministry.

After New Year, we began preparing the program for the camps. We gathered once a week and developed the Bible lessons, practiced the plays, learned songs, and prayed. Everything was confusing and unclear for us, but over time as we continued our preparations for the trip, our vision became clear. Only eight people could make the trip from the U.S. to Ukraine.

The camps lasted for five days each and were in the villages of Novaya Pokrovka and Vinogradovka in the Odessa region where there were very small churches already established by the church from Izmail where Peter Arnaut is the pastor. Local brothers and sisters from these churches also actively participated in the organization and the conducting of the camps (teacher assistants, sports instructors, cooks, etc). Since we had no experience, the first day of camp in Pokrovka was the most difficult and unpredictable for us. But day after day we gained the experience and knowledge, and the Lord blessed us every day, giving us the ability to manage the time properly and effectively to continue the camp.

There were many kids in the camps: in Vinogradovka about 60, and in Pokrovka more than 80. In Pokrovka the activities took place in the local clubhouse; in Vinogradovka—in the church building, and the sports on the local stadiums. The program of the camps included Bible lessons, learning songs, sport games, Bible games and activities, service for children, watching Christian cartoons and movies, free lunch, and also everyday at 8 o’clock in the evening we had services for everybody else. In every village there was something different and something difficult. For example, in Pokrovka it was difficult to teach the Bible lesson because not all children understood Russian language well enough since the school was taught in Moldavian.

The kids were very happy and even some of them cried and did not want to part with us. It was encouraging to see how they sang Christian songs with enthusiasm and how they answered questions about God. We were also pleased by hearing the parents of these kids say good things about our camps. Having conversations with some of them, we were glad to hear how their kids changed over the course of the camp for the better. Praise God for His work in the hearts and minds of many people!

The objective for the camps was to tell the children about Christ, teach them the basics about God, and have an interesting time based on Christian values. We also wanted to plant Bible schools for the non-Christian kids. As of today we see the results of our work: in Vinogradovka we organized a Bible school, in Pokrovka more children started attending the already planted Bible school, and also lessons for the teens were started. One brother gave a part of his house for the services and the Bible school. And right now there are two rooms getting fixed where eventually the lessons are going to be taught. We learned many good lessons during this trip. We taught the children along with teaching ourselves. We understood the importance of constancy and insistence in serving our Lord, how important it was to trust God regardless of our preparedness and how relevant were the words of Jesus Christ today: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.”

Friends, today each one of us has a choice to either serve God for His glory or to stay aside being a mere spectator. God clearly says in His word that we are all called to be His witnesses. The choice is ours!!! We could find many justifications for our inactivity or we could start serving Our Lord. I understood that for God our skills are not as important as our desire and decision to work for His glory. We did not have any experience in this matter (business), but we had the motivation to do something for the Kingdom of God. And He blessed us! Do not feel discouraged because you have no experience in any aspect of serving our God. Experience comes with the work, and since we are believers, we have a promise from Him that He will bless us in any work done for His glory. I am encouraging you to start working on the fields of our God, that are already white, as the Bible says, and God is waiting for his faithful servants to come and gather the fruits. I am calling you to take an active part in the great work of God in saving the humankind. Regardless of where you are, start doing a missionary work. Organize an outreach ministry in your church, with your friends, your family, or alone if no one supports you. The field for work is boundless, don’t stand aside. Start doing something. Also we come to you with a request: please help us: we really need your prayers and financial support. Get involved in God’s plan to save the humankind. May God bless you!

Vyacheslav Cheban




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