The spring of this year didn’t just bring the war, but also many of its after-effects. Sunday school staff, teenagers, and many children with their parents were forced to leave their homes and congregations. As a result, in 4 congregations it became impossible to organize the children’s day camps planned for the summer, the language camp with the Americans, and the teenage camp. In the first months of the war, everything seemed to come to a standstill. Only adult members of the Church continued to meet for worship.

But in the middle of May, an idea was born to ask teenagers aged 13-15 if they want to join in organizing a camp for the children of the Children’s Center in Novogradkovka. To my surprise, the entire group responded to this proposal with great enthusiasm. A week had passed, and we came up with topics and ideas to develop them: games, songs, and crafts. The teenagers immediately assigned each other roles in the camp, each making their own proposals. After a couple of meetings, the camp program was ready. I did not expect such level of involvement and responsibility.

 The first camp for 31 children, teenagers, and adults was held from June 7 to 9 at the Evangelical Lutheran community of Novogradkivka. We talked about the miracles performed by Jesus: calming of the storm, feeding of the 5,000, and the miraculous catch of fish with the calling of the disciples. Beautiful crafts, exciting games, as well as contests, and action songs were fascinating. It seems that the children were happy to throw off the burden of the first months of the war and spent three days in the camp filled with discovery, joy, and love. For the adults, these days have also become like a bright ray of light in the kingdom of darkness. There was hope now that the children’s and youth ministry will be restored; that the Church will be filled with children’s voices once again.

But in the meantime, we are planning two more three-day camps in July and August. That was everyone’s unanimous decision. Let’s camp!

 Alexander Gross, the pastor of congregations in Odessa region