Harvests, planting seeds and hope come together in Russia’s summer season

By June 22, 2011

Russia (MNN) — Creative thinking watered a seed planted 20 years ago. Today, that has borne out a new harvest.

Sergey Rakhuba with
Russian Ministries says shortly after Communism fell in the
former Soviet Union, they discovered a unique opportunity: the ministry decided to redeem land that had
been used to propagate atheism and Communism. "We wanted to go into all those Pioneer summer camps where Soviets used
to indoctrinate children, so we rented those campgrounds and organized
summer camps."

However, creating a self-sustaining outreach on this scale
requires both funding and manpower. Half of that equation was answered when the School Without Walls programs came along,
providing a ready-made solution to both keeping camps running AND training new
Christian leaders. Rakhuba explains, "Through those young counselors that we're
equipping to run the summer camps, this
young ‘next generation' will start
building their spiritual foundation on the solid ground of Christian values."

Through Russian Ministries' involvement in other community
outreach, they also had a way to build relationships that frequently lead to
discipleship. Throughout the year,
the ‘Next Generation' leaders build into
needy families they're helping and offer hope and love to the children in the

As a result, "We believe that this summer we'll be able to
reach out to at least 5,000 children and share [with] them the message of hope,
the message of love, so that they will be able to learn the story of Jesus," says Rakhuba.

Camps have been going since the first week of June in
Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Moldova, as well as in several Creative Access
Central Asian countries. It's a salute
to summer, but it's also much more. Rakhuba says, "Fun is important , but it's all done in the way of
helping a child to understand the big concept of the love of Christ, and to
learn more about Jesus."

It costs $50 U.S. to send one child to camp for a week. In that week, specially trained counselors
from the School Without Walls program plant seeds for the next harvest. "They disciple them, they pray with them, they help them to learn more about Jesus," says Rakhuba, "and in so many cases, young
children receive Christ. When they grow, they build their lives on the ground
of Christian values."

Remember that equation of funding and manpower? Summer camp programs in the United States
costs between $250 and $400 a week for one child. Rakhuba notes, "We ask for $50 to help us rent the place and provide room and
board for these children. The rest is all done by volunteers–young,
potential Christian leaders that represent local churches."

Each $50 gift will help send one camper to a life-changing
week of camp and help provide a Bible and/or Christian literature for that
child or teenager. Most importantly, Rakhuba
says, "At the end of the summer camp, counselors ask the children if they want
to receive Christ. In most of the cases, children–with their hearts still so
soft–are open to have a relationship with God."

As gardening goes, we've just planted a seed. What kind of creative response you have, as a
reader, can water the hope that comes from Christ. There's more here.

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