Summer camps offer week of reprieve and new hope for future

By August 11, 2010

Former Soviet Union (MNN) — Across the former Soviet Union
(FSU), youth are facing mounting pressures on all sides as the rate of
HIV/AIDS infections sky-rockets, depression and suicide statistics soar, and radical
Islam becomes alarmingly more prevalent.

In most areas of the world, 80 percent of new
HIV/AIDS cases are in people age 30 and older. But in the FSU, nearly 80 percent of new
cases are in individuals age 30 and younger.

In Russia, this combined with the rampancy of tuberculosis
and diphtheria is causing their population to drop dramatically each year. It
dropped between a half a million to a million people last year alone.

For those under 30, "If this trend continues, the loss
of life for that age group–primarily from HIV–could be greater than Stalin's
purges," said Anita Deyneka of Russian Ministries.

Such a drop is creating armies of orphans, possibly as many
as four million in Russia alone.

Deyneka quoted another alarming statistic: "In fact, there
are more orphans and street children in Russia than there are soldiers in the military."

So much death and such utter hopelessness may seem
surprising: "It might seem, after the collapse of communism, that this wouldn't
be the case. But in some ways, they're even more at risk because the social
safety nets were in place during those years," Deyneka said.

Though Russia is once again emerging as a world super power,
neglect may cripple the nation before it has a chance to rise again.

With such a grim outlook, Russian Ministries is doing what they
can to spread hope through the person of Jesus Christ.

Currently, throughout the FSU Russian Ministries is holding summer camps which has proven to be an effective way to minister.

"It's not just the change of life for the children and
youth during that week, but this carries on as they go back to their homes, or their orphanages, or sometimes to the streets. And because
the camps are all led and run by national Christians, there is a bridge built
that means that they are going to have connections even after the camp
finishes," Deyneka said.

Since June 2010, Russian Ministries has been holding camps
in 100 different locations and will continue to do so until the end of August,
with some camps continuing into September.

At the beginning of the summer, Deyneka said their goal was
to send 5,000 kids to a week of camp.

Outreach does not end after the week of camp is complete; kids'
lives, families, and communities are transformed, building upon the relationships
formed during the week of camp: "They see that Christians reach out; they
help. They don't just talk, but they also do something to help the
children," said Deyneka.

Russian Ministries is still short of their goal, but more funds are needed before they can send more kids to camp. For $50, you can send one
kid to camp, giving him a chance to make a future altering decision for

Click here to donate toward these camps.

Join us tomorrow for Part 2 of this four part series on the pressures
youth are facing in the FSU and what ministries are doing to combat this.

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