Belarus (MNN) – Ukraine was not the only country affected by the nuclear catastrophe at Chernobyl. Thanks to southern winds on the day of the disaster, Ukraine contaminated one-fourth of neighboring Belarus with radioactive fallout. Kobryn, Belarus — a town unaffected by radiation — is home to Camp Pearl.
Slavic Gospel Association’s President Michael Johnson says Camp Pearl’s site was originally a military base. The site once held silos with missiles aimed towards the United States (which have since been dismantled). By promising to renovate the property, Baptist churches in the area obtained the land. With the help of SGA, they turned it into a camp.
Camp Pearl runs from late spring until the end of August. During the offseason, the camp hosts various events like weekend camping or Christmas and Easter celebrations. The camp emphasizes healthy food and has its own non-radiated garden and livestock to feed the children during the year. However, it is the focus of this camp which makes it unique.
“It’s a wonderful ministry introducing kids from unchurched families to the Gospel in a wonderful camp setting, but it’s also a therapeutic opportunity for kids… They have a full diagnostic system set up, they get free dental care, and they get certain medical treatments while they’re there. [We] meet both the physical and the spiritual needs of the children as they come to experience camp,” Johnston explains.
SGA exists to share the Gospel, equip the church, and help the forgotten. Camp Pearl provides an opportunity for SGA to help share a clear presentation of the Gospel with kids while supporting churches who are meeting these kids’ physical and spiritual needs.
“There is one session during the year where all the children come to participate in the camp (probably about 130 kids per session). They all come from radiated zones where they’re suffering the ongoing effects of radiation in the form of cancer and other health problems,” Johnston shares.
“I’m told they lose about 10 percent of those children every year.”
Johnson visited Camp Pearl a couple of weeks ago. The day before he came, a 17-year-old boy from the camp passed away. The boy had been struggling with cancer caused by the radiation in Belarus. Three days before he died, he had put his faith in Christ Jesus.
“The people in this particular country still need to be reached with the Gospel. There are certain barriers that exist to preaching the Gospel in the particular country, but this is a great haven and opportunity for people to again get their physical needs ministered to, but more importantly, to understand the love of Christ and to understand the true Gospel of Jesus Christ,” Johnston explains.
Be Prayerful, Be Active
Will you help these kids encounter Christ in the midst of radiation and disease? Start by praying. Pray for the Holy Spirit to move at this camp and for these children to come to a saving faith in Christ. Pray for the kids attending the camp as well as those affected by radiation. Pray for healing in the country of Belarus and for the hope of Christ to permeate hopelessness.
You can also help by learning more about Camp Pearl and SGA’s ministry with this camp.
To learn more about Camp Pearl and SGA supported summer camps, click here!
Header photo courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association