Churches ramping up for summer camps in spite of tense religious atmosphere

By May 7, 2013

Central Asia (MNN) — School's out for the summer! That means sleeping in, bonfires, and summer camps for many kids.

But it's also "a very, very important time for reaching children with the Gospel," says Joel Griffith of Slavic Gospel Association.

SGA supports evangelical churches in nine countries belonging to the Commonwealth of Independent States, or CIS.

Churches in these regions, with the help of SGA, hold more than 300 summer camps that teach kids about Jesus. Along with typical camp activities like swimming and hiking, children also hear the life-changing message of salvation from camp counselors.

"[Camps are] basically held from June through the end of August, and it's a tremendous time of ministry for these churches," says Griffith.

In countries like Russia and Ukraine, churches can hold these summer camps without a problem. A camp in one Russian town even got local television coverage last summer. SGA says it's rare for evangelical ministries to get such positive coverage in the media, and they're thankful for God's sovereign work.

"But in other places, such as Central Asian nations that are largely Muslim-dominated, these camps have to be held secretly and discreetly," explains Griffith.

Throughout Central Asia, governments are erasing any trace of religious freedom. For example, Christian outreach to children in Kazakhstan is officially prohibited.

However, at the end of 2012, SGA-sponsored workers were able to hold a "Fall Camp" for about 40 orphaned children. Praise God for this opportunity to share about His Son. Pray for His protection over believers in Kazakhstan.

Despite religious restrictions, SGA expects this summer's camps to yield a bountiful harvest in Central Asia.

"Please continue to pray with us about that," Griffith requests.

Pray that the Gospel goes forth safely this summer. Ask God to open the hearts of children to believe the Good News.

If you can help SGA send resources for these camps, click here. $41 USD sends one child to camp for a week, where he or she will be given a New Testament in the child's language.

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