Russia (MNN) — It's one of the most important times for the evangelical church in Russia and the former Soviet Union — summer camping season.
During the days of communism, the government offered what they called "Pioneer Camps." That was a time for young people to be indoctrinated into the Soviet system.
Slavic Gospel Association's Joel Griffith says, "When the Soviet Union broke apart, those Pioneer Camps went defunct. So basically evangelical churches began holding their own summer camp ministries. And sometimes these would actually be held at real camps in the woods. Sometimes they would be former Pioneer Camp sites that had been abandoned."
According to Griffith, the kids have all the fun of secular summer camp. "But they also spend a lot of time in the Word of God, learning Scripture, learning Bible, and learning of course about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which is the most important part about these camps."
Unfortunately, most families can't afford to send their children to camp. That's why SGA needs your help to pay for camp. "We're figuring about $30 a child to be able to enable a kid to go to summer camp."
This year Griffith says they'd like to send not just a few hundred kids to camp. He says they want to send "5,000 children in Russia alone; 2,000 children approximately in Belarus. I know that in Ukraine they're planning on holding at least 10 of these camps. And in some of the 'Stan' countries, they're going to try to shoot for five camps."
That means more than 10,000 young people going through camp, but a need for more than $300,000.
Griffith says many unchurched kids are making commitments to Christ, which is opening other doors. "When an unbelieving child like this from an unbelieving family is reached with the Gospel, they often turn out to be the best evangelists back at home."