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2008 - May/June PDF Print E-mail


239 Duke Road

Columbia, La. 71418

(318) 649-7720


May – June 2008



Precious Greetings to our Dear Friends and Family,


         We are doing well, by the grace of God!  We had lots of help getting the campgrounds ready for first camp, and although we thought we might never get the jungle of grass cut in time, we actually finished right on time.  God has put together a wonderful team of Ukrainian and American workers who have been willing and glad to help make the camps great for the kids.  In May, Bro. Jeff Robinson brought a group of preachers and two young ladies to help, and one of the girls stayed with us for part of the summer.  A young man from Alabama came at the start of first camp, and he plans to stay for a year.  Then, another young lady, during the first camp, decided to change her tickets and stay for the rest of the summer to help.  God has really blessed!  The first camp was over a couple of days ago, and we are pressing on, getting ready for the next three camps to go.  The first camp was a very new experience with many challenges, but yet a great blessing in the end.  Many children accepted Christ as their Savior, and we were challenged to a new level of discipleship.


               Before I go any further in telling about the camps, I won’t be hesitant to tell you that ministry is becoming more and more expensive each year.  We had several unexpected expenses to arise, and although we are expecting some income throughout the following weeks from team members who are still paying their way, we are seeing the finances fall quickly.  First of all, government powers continue to force us to do certain things in order to keep the camps open, and will literally put a tape over dorm doors and refuse to allow us access to certain buildings if we don’t do what they ask.  It’s all logical and good things that need to be done, but to be demanded to pay for such things all at one time would render us unable to pay for normal camp expense.  We are trying to keep good relations with officials and want to do what will keep the kids safe and well such as put certain fire alarms into rooms.  This year, we were able to get by with only about $12,000 worth of the work, but only a few days after camp started, our water pump stopped pumping, so we had to get it dug up and purchase a new pump which was also around $1,500.  We had already replaced the old freezer which gave us continual problems and nonstop need to hire a repair man to fix it with two normal household freezers and three commercial refrigerators.  The economy in Ukraine is improving, but on top of all the other necessary expenses, so are prices for food and other normal life necessities also rising with each passing day.  Mixed with the increasing rise in the cost of gasoline along with the dropping dollar value, we are facing probably double the cost for camp expense.


It seems all over the world, people are facing dilemma, but more than anything, there is a spiritual dilemma.  Not only has America been one of the leading countries in economy, but also it has been one of the leading countries in the blessings and resources that God has given for spiritual awakening all over the world.  Ukraine has experienced great blessings from people who have recognized the responsibility which Jesus has placed in the hands of his followers.  We are not given wealth and health to simply shower ourselves and our own families with more and more and more material things and fun activities which will continue to distract us from the things of God.  Rather, God has entrusted us with wealth and health so that we can be His willing servants throughout the world.  It is such an awesome thing to realize how much God has placed in our hands so that we are more able to do the things which so many other people around the world can only dream of doing.  We need a fresh vision from God!  The Bible says that where there is no vision, the people perish!  It is so sweet to look out over the fields which are so ripe unto harvest, and know that God has provided workers for His fields.  You should not be alone in the work.  People are out there!  People are able and ready to go to work in the fields which are ready for harvest.  We need to wake up and be ready for the harvest early in the morning before it gets too late for work.  There is so much to do, and it seems there may be little time left to get these things done.


CAMP ONE:  Camp one was an experience we won’t soon forget!  It started out a normal camp with about 260 kids attending, and a very good team of American workers, some from Oklahoma and some from Alabama and other places with Student Life Ministries.  At the beginning, we had close to 30 Americans helping this first camp, and all of them were sweet blessings to the kids.  The group from Oklahoma taught Bible lessons, played with kids, and helped with activities like making crafts, teaching sewing, cross stitching, and crocheting, building an obstacle course, playing volleyball and soccer, and making nice name tags with a picture ID for every worker and child.  The Oklahoma group were sweet people with willing hearts!  They even had one young man who did a Boy Scout project for the children by providing Bibles for every child who needed one and also giving clothing to needy children.  We thank you all for the seeds you have planted. 


The first team from Alabama was also a hardworking and excited group of young and older alike, everyone with a desire to serve and help wherever needed.  Some of them had to return to the states after only one week, while others came in the second week to stay for only the last half of camp.  All were a blessing.  Some taught Bible lessons in the mornings and at night, preached, helped with teaching the kids English, played sports with the children, watched kids at the pool, did baton twirling with them, played soccer along beside the boys, and played lots of other fun games and activities with them.  Some of this group were familiar with the little ones from the Belerechinka orphanage after holding a Fall camp here with them last October.  This year, we were so disappointed that the changes within the government system has made it impossible for the little ones from the orphanage to be a part of our camp because of the break times in between each camp.  In the past, kids came to camp and then stayed at the orphanage between camps, but now the government is not providing workers to take care of them, and if anyone does, they must do it without pay.  Therefore, all the children from orphanages are being sent to state camps where the kids can stay for the whole summer.  The expense and problems of moving kids from place to place prevents the children from being able to attend our camps and then return to the state camp.  A few of the Alabama group were able to visit the kids at the other camp a few times, and the whole team visited them on the last day.  The kids were so glad to see them.  We were also able to visit them.  We sure love those kids, and thank God we’ve been able to have a small part in their lives growing up.  Please pray for these little ones that God will use those small seeds that we’ve tried to plant deep into their hearts!


Before camp began, the leader of the organization who sent some of the workers from Alabama called to talk with us about a Ukrainian camp organization called Radooga, which means “rainbow”.  They have had a part in the ministry of these camps for years now, and some of the youth of their church were also planning to be involved in the camp they also had planned for the summer, but at the last minute, they lost their place to hold the camp after another group offered the place more money for rent.  Their camps are for youth about 13 and older, and they operate on much the same type of schedule in the mornings as we do with the children.  They have a rotation of Bible study, crafts, games, and application.  They also teach English classes throughout the day, and then have an organized sports time with a rotation of fun games.  In the evenings, their stage is set up with a lighting system, big screen on the side, and a back drop with the theme of their camps for the year.  Because they had no place to have their camp, it was recommended that we might possibly invite them to be a part of our first camp.  At first I immediately said, “No, we just can’t do that!”  Then we both slept and prayed, and after Shane also had some reservations, we decided we would talk with the Ukrainian man who organized the camps and possibly consider inviting their team.  We met and talked, and then made the decision.  Radooga joined us about half way through the camp with an addition of about 40 extra workers consisting of a team of about half American and half Ukrainian.  The first night was overwhelming with such a drastic change from our quiet service of a few guitars and singing and preaching to a sound system which could probably be heard for miles and a program which was fast moving and filled with lots of activity and color.  Our little ones were a little stunned, and some of our workers got a little bit rebellious, maybe feeling like this colorful team with Radooga was making a complete takeover.  After the service that night, Shane and I were able to sit down with leaders and discuss what we felt would be good things to help make a good transition.  We were able to mix some of our singing talent and performance talent into the program, and Shane officially introduced their team as being another part of our own team, then we planned some time to get together in the kitchen area after the night service was over just to visit and get to know one another, and even to do the “Hokey Pokey” together.  That sure loosened things up a lot!  At the end, we prayed together before going to bed.  Our own camp leaders were excited after camp was over to take some of their ideas to make the camp enjoyable for kids, and are already planning how to make future camps even better.  In the end, kids gained respect and confidence in the group as a whole, and began to open up to them, and before they left, we all grew to love as we should love.  I was reminded of how the scripture says that we should esteem others as better than ourselves, and how Christ actually gave himself as a willing servant for others even so far as to die for us.  We must humble ourselves deeply to be able to consider others as better than ourselves, and to open ourselves up to be hurt even so far as to be a sufferer with Christ as His willing servant, but to be able to love as Christ loved, that’s just what we need to do.


The following is a small part of an email Shane sent to one of our supporters with a little editing along the way:


“Sorry to be so long in writing.  It's been good here, and it's been busy.  God truly blessed in the 1st camp, and we wait for His same sweet Spirit to bless and refresh every heart in the second.  Weather has been abnormally cool for June and continues to be cool past days.  The cool weather is slowing the grass from growing, but earlier it got chest deep on me, and weeds were over my head before we finally got them cut with syths.  I bought a gasoline weed eater, which helped a lot.  It is no faster than the syth, but it takes much less energy, which allows a man to work longer.


        We had a huge American team in camp one--over 70 Americans at one point, but everybody stayed busy all the time.  The kids really got an extra dose of attention, and they loved it.  So many kids are wanting to come back to 2nd camp, and so many others are already standing in the reserve list if there are beds available for their age group.  Many parents gave special thanks this year and little gifts to us, and some have asked where we meet in the city for church.  We hope they will begin to come, but we may be facing another move any time now due to the restaurant closing.


        We have had a very smooth time with sanitation and other departments approving us this year.  Sanitation even commented during our inspection midway through camp one that this was the best organized and happiest they had ever seen kids in any camp before.  We hope all camps go this well. 


        The dollar value dropping has added about 10% extra cost on top of the 30% inflation rate this Spring, and the labor wage increase has added even more.  Our deep well water pump had to be replaced during 1st camp, the walk-in cooler has worn out, and we replaced it with two normal household freezers and 3 commercial refrigerators, plus we had to install "commercial" fire alarms in three dorms that we didn't expect to have to do until next year.   It has been much more expensive maintaining the camp than expected earlier this year.  May it all be counted as a worthy gift to God. 


        The Lutugino administration is holding a four-day camp this week (some type of training for military and karate kids), and we have really been impressed.  These kids are so disciplined and friendly.  The group has welcomed us in every way, inviting us to take part in their activities.  We know some of the leaders from past years, and one of their karate teachers works for us as a dorm parent.  They are doing a good work with these kids, boys and girls.  They told us they are glad we are keeping the camp up as the other camps are deteriorating--most past the point of use.  They have also offered to bring this crew of kids to clean next year.  They are disciplined enough that they could get it done, but we'll see about that to.


        We have camps by other Ukrainian Christian groups scheduled every week that the camp is not being used by us through August.  We are glad to see the camp being used to its full potential.”


CAMP TWO:   We’ve gotten off to a good start for the second camp, and we have a great team of workers and volunteer helpers this summer with a record number of campers over 300 minus sixteen dorm parents and a few helpers which are approximately 15 & 16 years old and just over the age to be campers.  We had so many of the past campers who just turned 15 or 16 who came to us begging to stay just to help in some way since they were over the age to be campers.  Most of them are good kids who have grown up in the camps over the years, so we are still able to somewhat minister to these kids in this way.  Others, including several boys who are just graduating orphans, we allowed to be in the oldest age dorm, so that room ended up being mainly boys over the normal age for campers.  We have an older man named Max who works with this age group, and he’s done good at making them all behave, although he sometimes needs to make them get down and do push-ups or get up early in the mornings to help around the camp.  We usually reserve the worst behavior like smoking, drinking, or fighting to make them do the toilet duty.  We haven’t had any drinking problems so far this year as far as we know, and the smoking hasn’t been nearly as bad as last year. 


During first camp, we had one complaint about how unsanitary it was for us to be making the kids do such things as cleaning toilets, but the complaint actually came from one of the little boys who had never really been into any kind of trouble.  After a long discussion with his dad that day, they realized that sometimes, this is the only way to deal with them other than just simply kicking the boys out of the dorms altogether.  The point was made that none of the boys who were the ones who got into trouble and made to clean toilets were willing to call home to tattle on themselves lest their parents also know the things they’d done and only make things that much worse for them.


This camp’s theme was based off one of the VBS materials from the US, and the theme for decorating was Hawaii.  At supper time last night, one of the ladies cornered me with the idea of several of the American women doing the hula dance during the fun stage time.  It was really funny, and the kids must have enjoyed it because we got an encore, and they all wanted us to perform it all over again.  I felt really stupid, and Shane said we looked like Babushka (grandmother) Hula Dancers, but the main thing was how much the kids liked it.  I’m learning not to take myself quite so serious, although that dance might be a one and only time for doing something like that!  Ha!  Ha!  But…tonight it’s the American men’s turn to hula their way into fame with all the kids!






We are continuing to meet at the school in the village even through the summer, although there are only a handful still attending faithfully each week.  Some of the ladies who normally attend are actually workers at the camp, so during the camps, they can’t attend.  It seems the people are always busy in the villages with work, gardening, or celebrations of one kind or another.  There’s always some reason why some cannot make it for the hour or two we meet to for worship.  This has truly been a hard place to get people to come together even to form a Bible study with them.  They all act like they love us, and most even seem to respect us, but only a few have become faithful believers in the villages.  We are reminded every day to continue to “press on” no matter what.  It can get really discouraging and tiring after a while.


We are much more encouraged about the city mission group.  Although most of the people in this group also work in the camps in some way or another during the summer months, we have reached a consistent level of attendance at around 25 or 30 most Sundays we meet during the other times of the year.  We’ve been meeting in a small Chinese restaurant, but due to the construction going on all around us, they will soon be closing the restaurant, and we’ll need to find some place else to meet for worship.  They Chinese guys are trying to hold on to their business as long as they can.   We are looking and praying for a different place for meeting just in case they tell us at any time that we cannot meet there anymore.  We have many young people, although there are several families now attending with us.  God is gradually building this little mission into a church which can stand on its own.  Some are pushing us to have the group registered into a church, but they don’t understand that there is little true leadership within the group yet.  Until the time that God provides His leader, we will continue to meet as a mission group.  Please pray for us to have wisdom.


We have met a few times again in Mala Urivka the last few months, but this group has grown thinner and thinner.  They are sweet people, but many of them are mentally challenged in different ways.  We had heard that the river in that place had been poisoned at some point in history, and after the people drank the water, some of the babies were affected by that.  It is so interesting to sit down with the older folks and hear some of the tales of their history.  One of the sweet grandmothers who lets us meet near her home was once captured by the Germans at about the age of 15, and made to work in the prison camps.  Later on, the Americans rescued her, and had even offered to take her back to America, but she and her friends chose to return home to their friends and family here in Ukraine.  Please also pray for these.


One other place we meet is at the Belerechinka Orphanage.  We always have a good meeting with the kids each week as long as there are no celebrations happening at the time, or there are no inspections going on.  The kids are so attentive, and seem to soak up the life concept messages from an animal book he has.  Sometimes it seems the kids are paying so little attention, but when question time arises, their hands go up, and they know much more than I could ever imagine.  The little girls love to sit on my lap or beside me, and I have gotten a few hair-do’s during those lessons, and I do wonder how they can be listening so intently and also being so careful to get my hair fixed just right.  I am amazed.  I have grown to love all those kids, and in time past, we were able to host all of the true orphans in almost every single one of our camps.  This year, as I’ve said, the kids have gone to a different camp, and they won’t be able to come to ours at all.  Please pray for God to keep them safe and their minds well.  We have heard so many tales of how they learn such bad behavior in the other camps, although the staff were very friendly and inviting to us when we went to visit them there.



We are looking forward this summer to the first youth camp we’ve been able to have since we’ve been here.  Bro. Jay Morgan will be heading a team of Americans to come in late August to work with other Baptist churches in our region for ages from about 13 to college age students.  Although the Baptists in Ukraine had a camp for this age last year, we did not actually organize the camp.  We helped and attended services some at night, but were not part of the organization for the camp.  This year, we will be host for this age group for the first time, and we are really looking forward to it.  Please pray for these young people that God will touch their hearts and that many of them will respond to the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Thank you all for your continued prayers and support of the ministry.  So many things are beginning to happen here in Ukraine, and we can sometimes feel the stress and power of Satan reacting to the move of the Spirit of God in the hearts of people in our area.  As we were starting to begin our church services in the camp even last night, just across the little river, a motor of some kind cranked up, and continued throughout the whole preaching time, sometimes getting louder and louder.  Some adults reacted, and wanted to go and talk with the people about stopping the noise, but the children continued to sit quietly without much distraction at all, and Bro. David continued to preach the gospel as they seemed to listen just as intently as ever.  Please pray for the people of our little village that God will touch their hearts and make each one open to the life-changing power of God in the hearts and minds of people everywhere.  May God richly bless them and open the hearts of the blind!


We are looking forward to Bro. Terry Tullos and possibly a young man from the church where Shane was pastor in Grayson coming to visit us in October for a month.  We will again be hosting an orphan camp in the Fall with the “Hope For Orphans Around the World” organization, a partner with the Student Life group.  They were already talking about their return trip as they were leaving from camp last week.  I wasn’t able to be here for that camp last year, but I have heard it was really a good camp with lots of time to spend with the little orphan children I mentioned earlier.  Some of these children are actually being adopted by families from America, and we are so thankful for the blessing these little ones will have to finally be a part of a good family.  One little boy named Roma just left yesterday with his new family who had come from Alabama to finalize the adoption process for him and another young man from the Kiev area.  They are sweet Christian people who opened their home to these older orphans, giving them hope for a better future and a better life.  Please pray for all the families who are opening up their lives to these older orphans of Ukraine so that they will be able to have hope for a good future.


I am so looking forward to seeing our two kids again in the next day or two.  Shane just left early in the morning to go get them from Kiev .


May God richly bless and help each one of you, and may His word continue to be spread to the ends of the earth.



“Keep Pressing On!”
Shane, Marilyn, Mary, and Caleb Duke

Crossover Ministries

Last Updated ( Sunday, 13 July 2008 )
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