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Summer camps amidst the air raid sirens


All across Ukraine, evangelical churches are holding summer camps for youngsters, and seeing unprecedented numbers signing up for a few days of fun and relief from the constant pressures of war, and to hear the wonderful message of gospel grace. But the war is never too far away, and across the country the air raid sirens are still sounding their shrill warnings, in some places up to 10 times a day, warning people to take shelter.

Respite in the midst of war - Unprecedented numbers of youngsters

Almost every church we are working with, from Kharkiv in the East to Zaporizhzhia in the South and Ternopil in the West, are asking us to pray for their summer camps for children and youngsters, and for the fruit of the gospel to come from these. This is a regular feature of church outreach in Ukraine, but this year in particular churches are seeing many more youngsters signing up for the camps, including many from displaced families who have left their homes in the war zones. In some places, they hold day camps around the church premises, but some take parties down to the beautiful Carpathian mountains in the south-west of the country.

Constant threat of danger

In Kharkiv, the Osnova church is holding its first camp for youngsters, funded by the generosity of EMF supporters, and expecting over 100 children. If an air raid siren sounds, they will have to take all the children into their basement for safety. Anton Myrhorodsky, one of the leaders of the church says, "The most important thing is that in this difficult time we pay attention to children, spend time with them, communicate with them, conduct entertainment, sports events, master classes.  Children love to share their experiences. The camp is made so that as much as possible to give attention and love to children and thus introduce them to Jesus Christ and how He cares and loves them."

In Zaporizhzhia, they have so many air raid sirens, typically 10 each day, that they simply can't take shelter each time. (Most of the time the missile is aimed at another region, and only if they hear explosions do they take shelter). Nonetheless, the Baburka Baptist church is looking forward to over a hundred youngsters joining them in August for their day camps.

Joy in the place of tragedy

Borodyanka will for ever be a remembered for the atrocities and tragedy of war. But in the very place synonymous with sadness, the Irpin Bible Church held a summer camp in July for over 100 youngsters. You can see the enjoyment on the faces of the youngsters in the pictures below. But imagine the joy in heaven if some were to respond in faith to the message of the gospel they heard each day.

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May be an image of 5 people, people playing basketball and people dancing
May be an image of 3 people, child, people playing football and grass
May be an image of 7 people, child and people smiling
Summer camp held in Borodyanka, near Kyiv this July (pictures shared with permission)

May be an image of 10 people, child and people smiling
May be an image of 3 people, frisbee and grass
Summer camp held by the Philadelphia Church in Ternopil this July (pictures shared with permission)

Prayer Points

Please pray:
  • For safety for all the children and workers in the camps across Ukraine.
  • For great enjoyment and fun for the children, and energy for the workers.
  • For the work of the Holy Spirit in the hearts and minds of the youngsters as they hear the wonderful news of Christ crucified.
  • For wisdom for the leaders as they get alongside youngsters, many of whom are haunted by fears and traumatic memories.