In the woods, children learn English and hear the Gospel

Russia (MNN) — During their final summer program for the year, SOAR International witnessed God moving in a big way. An English camp out in the woods not only widened job opportunities for kids, but it shared the love of Jesus.

SOAR’s final week in Russia for the summer took place in St. Petersburg. Much of the team had already gone home with a few remaining to assist their church partner with the camp.

(Photo courtesy of SOAR International)

Joanna Mangione says they headed out to the campground armed with plenty of school and art supplies, set up the tents, and waited for the kids to arrive. This year, they had about 40-45 kids both young and old.

As we explained yesterday, learning English can improve job opportunities for kids in the future. So, using the woods around them, the team set up learning activities, games, and lessons. Mangione says the atmosphere of the camp was upbeat and fun the whole week.

Even though the camp was a Christian camp, non-believers from the community came too. Once again, English classes served as a bridge for the local church to get to know members from the community who weren’t already coming to church.

“Our goal was to get them excited about learning the language, but also building those relationships first and foremost to get to know those kids and help them feel safe in that atmosphere to start those conversations,” Mangione says.

The theme of the week was Noah’s Ark and many of the lessons centered around that story. Throughout the week, the kids got to learn more and more about Jesus, especially during the evening chapel time.

“Everybody got to hear the Gospel and then the very last night, they had an invitation and there were quite a few hands that went up. And that was very cool to see just how God was working in that camp.”

(Photo courtesy of SOAR International)

Mangione says SOAR International is privileged to be a part of the work the local churches are doing in Russia. In many ways, this summer has been the greatest success in participation and impact.

“I think all of us kind of look back on this summer and we’re just praising the Lord. I think God just did so much this year. In Ryazan we were told it was the best program so far, which was very encouraging,” she says.

In other words, she says, they see God’s fingerprints all over what happened this summer. Relationships were built, and many kids opened up to ask questions about life and about Christianity.

So as SOAR gears up for upcoming projects, will you pray for their church partners to continue to build on these relationships?

Mangione says to pray that, “as they interact with these kids again, as they come around and visit the church, as they end up coming to Sunday service that the children’s hearts would be softened, that they’d be ready to hear what the pastor is saying in church, what the youth group leader is saying in youth group.”

Ask God to give wisdom and strength to the church leaders. Pray for those children who decided to follow Jesus. Pray for protection of believers in Russia as they navigate the changing political climate.

Mangione says, “Thank you for those of you who supported the summer programs whether financially or through prayer. They were so beneficial.”

You can still give to next year’s summer ministries here, or support the upcoming projects like Stuff-a-stocking here.