U.S.-based Slavic Gospel Association aims to help local churches give 50,000 boys, girls 'life-changing' experience
LOVES PARK, Ill. -- A U.S.-based mission to the former Soviet Union aims to help give 50,000 disadvantaged boys and girls a "life-changing" summer camp experience this year, including children suffering because of the war in Ukraine.
Illinois-based Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) partners with thousands of local churches across the vast region to provide summer camps at more than 600 locations for abandoned children, orphans, kids living in poverty, and victims of war.
According to reports, nearly two-thirds of all Ukrainian children have fled their homes since the war began.
This summer, the faith-based organization expects camp numbers to swell with thousands of displaced Ukrainian families seeking refuge at local evangelical churches in neighboring Poland. Leaders expect 10,000 more children than last year to attend the church-run camps, which rely on donations for funding.
Escape From Chaos"Summer camp is a unique opportunity for local churches to bring kids out of the chaos of their lives and show them God's love," said SGA president Michael Johnson, who just returned from Ukraine. "Many are from at-risk homes, forgotten, neglected or abused. They're coping with emotional despair that's unimaginable and, for some of them, the terror of war, too."
Children will enjoy games, campfires, and hear the "good news" of the Bible, many for the first time in their lives. They'll also receive kid-friendly Bibles in their own language.
"They'll experience real joy and the care and compassion of local Christians," Johnson said.
Atheist Centers Become Gospel Camps"Some of the church-run camps are held on the same grounds as atheist 'pioneer camps' in the days of the former Soviet Union," Johnson said. "This shows the power of God to transform nations and change lives in ways we can't imagine."
Last year, Johnson said, more than 3,300 children responded to the Gospel at the camps, and nearly 3,000 of them began going to local churches near their homes. One pastor told him that his church was filled with children who brought their parents with them.
"The spiritual hunger and need are so deep," Johnson said.
One camp located near Ukraine's Chernobyl nuclear power plant – site of the world's worst-ever civil nuclear disaster in the 1980s – last year hosted children suffering from cancers and birth defects linked to the radioactive fallout.
People can support children going to summer camp by donating on the SGA website.
Founded in 1934, Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) helps "forgotten" orphans, widows and families in Russia, the former Soviet countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel – caring for their physical needs and sharing the life-transforming Gospel of Jesus Christ. SGA supports an extensive grassroots network of local evangelical missionary pastors and churches in cities and rural villages across this vast region.