Tamás Moroz, in spite of his having three churches to pastor in rural Romania, still managed to help lead four camps in June, July, early August and late August! The first camp was held by the Biharia church, another took place in conjunction with a sister fellowship; the third and fourth were organised by the Baptist Youth Convention in Romania, and two other EMF missionaries, Pál Borzási and Sándor Kelemen were speakers at those young people's gatherings.
The fabulous facilities at Camp Falcon Rock make for a wonderful setting in which to have safe and happy camps.
Tamás and his wife Andrea wrote:
'In the first camp there were children from our village and some with hard family backgrounds. So we had a few issues with love-lacking, disobeying children. But I'm very happy to say that Sunday School teachers and youth from our church filled the gap. The Gospel of Christ was preached, and His love was personified. May all this bring fruit in the children's hearts'.
In another part of Romania (Boghis), another of our youngest and newest missionaries, Benjamin, along with his wife Debora, reported the following:
'35 children, aged 6-14, took part this year, supervised by 8 officers. In the morning the children were taught about different kinds of spiritual fruit, and in the evening Benjamin took them to the good news of Jesus Christ, based on the sessions in the morning.'
Benjamin was grateful to the Lord:
'Thank God, it was a wonderful camp, with a lot of fun, games and handwork for kids. We hope that what the children have heard and learned from the word of God they will remember and take with them. It was good to listen to the prayers as they ask Jesus to move into their hearts. May the Lord continue the good work in them.'
And there is more about Romania! Sándor Kelemen (already mentioned) and his wife Napsugár are veterans at leading camps! Their 'speciality' is running Christian camps for the disabled. Napsugár's brother has muscular dystrophy, and links with his friends led them to hold a special camp for those for whom other camps do not cater. Such was the July camp for the Barnabas foundation the Kelemens helped found some years ago. All of these adults are from non-Christian backgrounds, but Napsugár says: 'The participants really like to listen to the word of God. We do not provide a special programme for them...only daily Bible Study and a trip to nature, or a nearby town during the week. We pray that God would give them saving faith through listening to the teaching.'
The Kelemens obviously love this camp ministry! For Sándor preached at the Harghita 'music camp' for around 150 chidren in July, and also helped in counselling. Three days after the Barnabas camp for the disabled ended, Sándor and Napsugár were off again! This time to a tent camp for 32 young people in the mountains near Red Lake, Romania. It was the 11th time this camp had taken place, and around the camp fires many deep conversations took place each evening.
Half of these young people came from non-Christian homes. The Kelemens say 'For 10 days we can share the gospel in such a way with these young people who otherwise would not be able to hear it'.
In Spain, 78 campers were led by a team that included EMF's Judith Hill, and members of churches where EMF missionaries are pastoring.
These camps have a long history, and in August the happy crowd of 7-16 year-olds enjoyed lots of outdoor pursuits at the Pinos Reales camp site in the mountains near Madrid. Judith comments that there were 'loads of non-Christian children, so it was a blessing to be able to talk about Jesus's last few days on earth, and what that means for them
About camp, she says ' ...think this was my last!', as she has been doing camps like this for 29 years, and came home shattered! :)
Romuald Lasnes was a leader at a French camp in Alençon, in which he was responsible for training up new personnel who needed to learn how to serve the 14-18 year-olds in their care.
A network of churches run this event each year, and Romuald was encouraged to see how these young people grew in servant-like attitudes throughout the 10 days of camp. As with the camps mentioned above, the mixture of Christian and non-Christian backgrounds amongst the attendees was notable.
Well, Romuald may have had young 'trainees'. But Michael and Mary Steedman, now in their seventies, went off to help at a camp for 11-16 year-olds in San Lazzaro, Italy!
Amongst the blessings, they tell us about a brother and sister who attended, whose family is Muslim. And two Ukrainian refugees were able to enjoy a peaceful time away from the ravages of war. Run under the auspices of 'Youth for Christ' in Italy, this camp had helpers from a number of churches in the Bologna area.
The Steedmans write: 'The theme for the week was the life of the Apostle Peter. Michael gave the first of 5 messages on Peter. The messages were followed by times of discussion in groups. We pray that what they heard from God’s Word will settle in their hearts. We were both involved in giving English lessons, as part of the camp programme. All the young people participated enthusiastically in the various sporting and other activities. Michael and our English elder taught them to play cricket, a game not so well-known in Italy..'
We have already told you about the great work among children and young people in the camps held by Mihai and Irina Chisari and the Imago Dei church in Chisinau, Moldova. Here is a quote from that article:
'Somehow this little fellowship seems to manage to reach out to literally dozens of the city’s youngest inhabitants. Seventy teenagers, aged 13-17, including a few of the Ukrainian children still taking refuge in the city, attended their camp this year, and when we asked Mihai where they get enough helpers to cope with such numbers, he replies in his usual matter-of-fact way: ‘Most people in the church help’, as if that is the most normal thing in the world. The truth is that almost all the mums and dads in the congregation attend camp with their little ones, and organise themselves so that there are always enough responsible adults around to be in control of what is going on. And what 'goes on' includes loads of fun activities, plenty of crafts and workshops, but also a very focused teaching programme- Day 1: Can we trust the Bible? Day 2: Why is Christ unique? Day 3: What is the Big Story of the Bible? Day 4: What is the Church? (an emphasis on the Church as a community, not a building or a business). Each evening there was a ‘Talk Show’, in which one of the leaders was interviewed, and each interviewee linked their testimony to the day’s Big Question from the morning session.
But it was the moments around the campfires at night that were especially memorable for Mihai. As he talks about the deep conversations about spiritual truths that took place in that intimate atmosphere, this pastor’s face changes. He is no longer simply giving a factual account of an encouraging event. He is reliving with evident emotion those encounters where he had witnessed the work of the Holy Spirit in some of those youngsters, most of them from Eastern Orthodox backgrounds (whether in Moldova or in Ukraine), but with a mindset that is basically secular.'
It isn't all 'fun and games'
Anyone who has been to, or served at, a camp, knows that it is not only hard work. All sorts of other issues arise. This year, nearly all the missionaries reported that 'bad behaviour' is a problem at camps nowadays. The camp run in Spain had to send one boy home, others spoke of widespread disobedience.
In Romania, Benjamin Pap's camp had to deal with an injured child. Tamás told us about water shortages that almost led to a camp being cancelled, whilst the Kelemens had to cope with too much rain! They always have huge logistical challenges with the camp for adults with disabilities. This year was certainly no exception.
Maybe finding four scorpions (one in the girls' dormitory), as happened in the camp in Spain where Judith Hill was a leader, was not the normal experience this year. But camps are never less than exhausting!
But it was worth the effort!
Yes, there were times of frustration and fatigue alongside the fun and food, but let's give praise to God for the hundreds of children, young people and adults who, apart from having fun, heard a wonderful message about the wonderful Lord Jesus in the camps of Summer '22.