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2009 - June/August PDF Print E-mail






239 Duke Road

Columbia, Louisiana 71418

(318) 649-7720


June - August 2009



            Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  This has been a long, but very blessed summer of camps.  After three months of hard work and lack of sleep, we are thankful to look forward to a month of time home in the U.S. together as a family--Shane, Mary, Caleb, and me--before Mary is married in December.  Hopefully, we will get some much needed rest and time of relaxation while Shane is home in September.  I left from Ukraine with the last camp team of the season, and have been back in the U.S. for almost two weeks now to be with Caleb as he started public school again for the first time in four years, and to start helping Mary with wedding preparations.  So far, Caleb is doing well readjusting to school life in America, and Mary has been so busy with college school work and working at her first job that it’s a good thing she has help with planning the wedding and her new future married life in her new home.  Shane will be returning to Ukraine to help with the Fall orphan camp and to oversee the ministry work, and then he’ll return home again for the holidays and for Mary’s wedding.  After that, we both will be going back to Ukraine to begin our new life in our empty nest.  Please continue to pray for our family as we are trying to get adjusted to all of the changes in our family. 



            We got camps started off with a big group of workers from Student Life Ministries of Birmingham, Alabama and a good group of other workers from Ukraine and American missionaries.  We were thankful for so many faithful people who all were such a blessing to the kids as well as to us.  It was a good thing to have such a great team because we had a camp of almost three hundred kids, and even the Belerechinka Orphanage kids were allowed to come back again to our camps this year for the first two camps of the summer.


            We were also blessed with a good group of Ukrainian workers this year.  First camp is always the hardest because Ukrainian schools aren’t finished by the start of first camp, and we are required to hire dorm parents who have finished at least three courses in some kind of teaching school.  Many of our dorm parents, workers, and interpreters have never made professions of faith in Christ in the evangelical sense, although most of them consider themselves Christians through the Russian Orthodox religion.  Some aren’t sure at all of their spiritual beliefs.  It is through these camps that many of our workers begin to become more aware of their direct need for Christ as their Savior and advocate.  Most of our workers want to return for every camp, not just because of the money, but also because so many express their the joy and blessing they receive from being a part of the summer with the kids and in the camps.  We are thankful for our workers, and for their faithfulness.  By the end of the summer, we had a team of experienced workers who knew exactly what their jobs were, and there were few problems.  We are also thankful to God that there were very few injuries and little sickness throughout the summer. 


            First camp started off pretty tough with inspectors coming and going ahead of camp nonstop and throughout the first week, and the fire safety inspectors taping doors shut.  We also had one particular health worker who got angry with Shane for not making a deal with her to do some things “unofficially” it can get frustrating to try to do things completely legal.  But…in the end, camp did officially open on time.  It is sometimes stressful when inspectors come to have their say, but we appreciate the job they do, and know that it is a good thing to be safe and sanitary in the camps.  Not all things make sense to us, and when it doesn’t, that can be irritating, but overall, we agree with most of what they say.  The fire safety is also a big issue each year.  Although we know that having a good system of fire safety is a must, they sometimes make things very hard by expecting us to add fancy, very expensive, electric fire alarms in buildings that could easily be supplied with the cheap American smoke alarms that would serve the exact same purpose.  In fact, I believe I might feel even safer with the cheaper battery-operated smoke alarms from America so long as they are regularly tested and re-supplied with batteries.  We are thankful to the Student Life team for bringing several very good quality smoke alarms to place in buildings throughout camp.  They were needed, and we appreciate them.


            Normally, we start camp off with a big bunch of kids, and by the second week, many of the kids will leave for different reasons.  Some of the little ones get homesick, some get physically sick, some get hurt, and some leave for other camps that they’d already planned to leave for without our knowledge, and sometimes some are sent home for different reasons.  It usually drops about 10 percent.  Starting off with almost 300 kids in first camp was tough, but a big blessing.  In the end, the number was still over 260.  When the day of registration was over, there was plenty of room in the smallest little boy’s rooms, so Shane began to invite some who had called earlier for invitations after they had all been given away.  He called a local orphanage, and the head master sent about twelve little boys from her orphanage.  She failed to tell us that the kids in this orphanage were all mentally challenged, so when they came, it became quite a different atmosphere at camp.  With two student dorm parents, one official dorm parent, and two helpers, they were conquered by the end of the first week.  It was impossible for the little boys to stand in line, stay seated when necessary, and especially to listen in their classes.  It was very sad, but several of these little ones had to be sent back home since our workers had not been trained properly to handle deal with that situation.  Hard situations like this which arise can make things very tough mentally.  We did not want to send these little ones back to their home, but we also realized that the attention they required made the situation more dangerous for the other little ones in their rooms.  Hard and sad situations in Ukraine are endless.


            The team taught Bible classes early morning, did crafts with the little ones, and the kids all went to music.  Older kids rotated into exercise classes and did crafts later in the day.  One of the team ladies taught interesting lessons each night also using a lot of drama with the help of two of our Ukrainian young men and her own son from America.  The kids loved it, and seemed to listen closely each night.  At the end of the night, kids had what we call the “stage program”.  Each night, different kids are given the chance to shine on the stage, and some nights we have special programs like a karate performance led by one of our dorm parents who is a black belt, we sometimes invite the Ukrainian folk singers to visit and sing, and sometimes we have games and fun such as the night where workers try to outsmart student campers by asking them questions on video.  We appreciate the hard work and good job our stage leaders do each year.



            A team from the North Monroe area led by Bro. David McCormick came to work in second camp.  They brought their VBS materials from home, and used the theme of Australia to decorate and turn the camp into a boomerang and kangaroo outback.  The first group that arrived taught morning lessons, did crafts, and performed drama.  We were amazed at one young man with them, Philip Raeisghasem.  He was given the responsibility of helping with drama, and it was as if he’d been taking Russian for years only after a short time of teaching him how to read or say different parts.  The dramas each night were great!  Then…at the end of the first week of camp, the rest of the young people arrived from their group with their youth director and one mom.  They were all so full of energy and drive, and we were blessed by their willingness to go to each class every day to give their testimonies and tell how God had blessed them.  They joined in with whatever came their way to do with the kids, some doing drama, others helping with English classes, and others working in crafts and sports.  The camp came to life!  We appreciate the work this team did with the kids.


            The second camp went well, and the team taught the kids how to throw boomerangs and then had a competition near the end of camp.  We were surprised how well the kids who participated actually were able to throw them.  One of the kids from Belerechinka orphanage was the winner, and he received an original boomerang from Australia.  The team also sponsored and did a barbecue with the kids, making a homemade pit and cooking barbecue shish kabobs and giving other snacks.  The kids loved it. 



            We had less American help in the last camp, but there were a few new people who came.  One of our own local young ladies came for this camp, and she was a blessing.  The other new-for-the-summer American was Bro. Tom, but he definitely was not new to the camps.  This was about his 12th year to work in the camp, and we truly appreciate his faithfulness.  He also stayed to help work in youth camp as well.  The kids and youth really love Bro. Tom.  He has been a blessing. 


            The Belerechinka kids weren’t able to attend the third camp, and because sanitation asked that we lower the numbers due to problems with serious illness in other camps in Ukraine, we were able to keep the count down to about 260 at registration.  It is true that our camp facilities are better able to accommodate this lower number, but it is so hard to turn kids away when they come begging to stay.  That is why we end up with some in kid’s camp that are a year or two older than the age limit, and we had some in youth camp a little bit too young.  But…third camp was actually a much quieter and peaceful camp than the first, maybe partly due to less kids and also because we all had gotten a better hang of things by the end of summer.  Everyone knows the routine better and people know what is expected. 


            The third camp also gave opportunity to our Ukrainian workers to teach classes and do jobs they normally would not get to do.  Many of our interpreters and workers are also our faithful Christian ministry partners throughout the year, and they are patient and faithful also with their jobs in camp.  We are so thankful to God that he is gradually raising up a good group of faithful young people who are willing to do whatever God opens the door for them to do.  We even had two situations where our Christian workers refused to take pay for their jobs because they wanted to give back to the ministry as a tithe to the work.  These young people will be the future of Ukraine, and we are seeing that God is using the camps and other ministries to allow them to learn how to be ministry and church leaders.  All of them did a great job working with the kids as well as doing other jobs, and even some of our young men preached in the evenings.  They were such a blessing, and the kids responded well to the messages that were brought.



            Bro. Jay Morgan sponsors our youth camp each year, and he plans and organizes a team to come to be a part of this week-long evangelistic/discipleship venture.  Because we are trying to work as much as possible with existing Baptist churches in Ukraine for the work of the youth camp, usually there is a bigger number of campers who have already made professions of faith in Christ and are attending church.  But…some of the Baptist have backed out of working with us because we are actively inviting youth who are not believers.  Normally, the existing Baptist churches do not invite more than 10% unbelievers to their camps because they say they don’t want the unsaved youth to influence their youth.  Other Baptist decided to help anyway, although they all still had their reservations.  They had been told all kinds of things about our camps, and about how we have such strong influence of unbelievers. 


            The youth camp was more serious, and students spent more time in classes with more elective spiritual growth type classes offered during the activity times.  We were so blessed with good musicians and great messages each night, and God’s Spirit moved throughout this camp.  We were a little bit surprised when one of the Baptist ministers who had agreed to teach the youngest group of boys came to us to talk.  The boys he’d had in his class were the some of the same ones we’d been allowing to attend the kid’s camp even though they were a little too old.  His classes had been almost 80% from unbelieving families, and most of the boys had never made professions of faith in Christ.  He told Shane that he had truly been blessed in the camp, and that the atmosphere had been totally different than he had been expecting after hearing so many things from other Baptists he knew who’d told him all kinds of rumors.  He thanked us for the opportunity he’d been given, and said that he felt the camp had been so peaceful and pleasant, and that the boys in his classes had been very respectful and well-behaved, and that most of them had made some kind of response in some way.  We’re not sure what he’d been told or exactly what he’d expected, but we were just thankful that he’d been given such a sweet blessing of experience. 


            We have had much response to the gospel of Jesus Christ in every camp, and we are thankful.  Because we are working with young children, sometimes they have responded many times throughout the summer, and we’re not always sure what they understand, but we realize that we cannot be the judge.  We will continue to plant the seed of the gospel, and continue to pray that God will continue to give the increase.  We are thankful that God moved in the hearts of these kids, and especially the young people in the youth camp.  We also ask that you pray for all of our workers as many of them have been exposed for the first or maybe second or third time to the ministry of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  They will be thinking and considering all the things they’ve heard and seen, and we pray that the seed has also been planted in each of their hearts so that they can come to know Christ as their personal Savior and friend, and that they can understand the work of Christ as the advocate between His children and God their Father.


            There were over 2100 souls who were ministered to in the camp this season including the 4 Ukrainian church groups who held camps this summer.  We have not totaled all expenses for the year, the amount will be large but when you divide the amount by so many the cost of ministry per person is actually very reasonable.



            Summer camp time is so busy, and most of our city church group works in the camp so that leaves the group small, but it has become stable with several who are still faithful to attend.  Each Sunday, someone is sent with Alec, our Chinese ministry helper and friend, to speak to the group.  Most of the time, one of the camp team members from America are given the opportunity.  Between camps, we continue the work.  We are still meeting in the small Chinese restaurant in the seventh floor of the hotel.  It is called “Seventh Heaven”.  Most of the time, other than camp weeks, it is so crowded that some even have ended up sitting on the floor.  It is gradually growing stronger, with a good group of faithful members.  We are praying mainly for leadership, and for a meeting place.  God is raising up leaders, and we trust that He will provide a good meeting place in His time.  Land and buildings are so expensive in the city, and rental in most bigger places is outrageous.  Alec has been instrumental in providing a temporary meeting place as this is the second Chinese restaurant we’ve been able to rent.  Shane often says, “Thank God for the Chinese!”  They have been so hospitable and welcoming to our groups, and we are thankful for what God has provided so far.  Each week, the workers there are able to listen in to the music and preaching, so in an indirect way, it is a ministry to China as well.  Pray for God’s will to be done concerning our place of worship.


            Shane is now visiting with Alec in China, and soon be coming back in to America.  Alec desires to attend a Bible seminary in China, so Shane traveled there with him to see the need in China and find out the possibilities for Alec.  He has been able to keep in touch while in China, and I think he will have a lot to tell.  I will save the space for his report.



            I have to be honest in saying that we have been discouraged by the village ministry more than encouraged.  There are times when it seems that things will get better, but then it seems the people might only be showing up for a few weeks just to get something they want.  It is difficult not to judge their motives, and we pray that isn’t the case, but we fear that we haven’t been successful in beginning a lasting ministry there.  Pray for the village people.



            “Trevor” Vitalic continues to serve working with the orphans at the orphanage in Novopavlovka and also at Belerechinka.  He goes to Novopavlovka orphanage to teach English, and is able to teach Bible lessons from time to time.  Just spending time with them has obviously made a true change in the kid’s attitudes and behavior.  He also continues to help with the teaching at Belerechinka.  Please pray for Trevor as he continues in this ministry.  Trevor shows many strong gifts in teaching and preaching, so we are expecting good things for his future in ministry.

            Annya is another faithful young lady of our church group.  She just finished her college program, and has scored high enough to continue to get a higher degree, but she is at a crossroads in her life.  She expresses desire to follow Christ closer in her life, and not just settle for something good.  We have asked her to become part of our ministry team at the orphanage and doing other works, so she will soon begin working with us each week.  She will interpret letters for the little ones at the orphanage and spend time with the kids, directing and guiding them in their lives.  She will also be helping us with interpreting and secretary work.  Please pray for Annya as she begins her new direction in life.



            Yura began seminary classes in Kiev beginning in September.  We consider ourselves blessed to be a part in his young Christian life, and to see him “growing” into seminary.  When we first met him he was so “un-formal”, resisting anything that resembled formality, but Christ is giving him a willing heart to serve wherever God leads, formal or informal, hard or easy.  Stiff services are often harder to endure than the physical hardship encountered in outreach ministry.  We are proud of Yura in a good way, and look forward to God using him as a faithful leader in Christ.



            China was much different than I supposed.  It is probably the cleanest country that I have ever been in as far as trash and vulgarity goes.  Although the people drank, I saw almost no drunkenness, and the people were peaceful and most tried every way they could to be helpful to us.  I suppose I was the first American visiting in Alec’s region, and some folks seemed to enjoy a good stare.  In the rural areas, the people were poor, but they had what they needed, and lived well enough.  Alec has a desire to work with the “official” church in China, and we spent our days finding and meeting with church leaders.  The church was not what I’m used to, but God is working there.  They have more freedom than I had supposed, and the worship was genuine.  Although they are limited in some ways, this makes them more concentrated in other.  As it appears, those who came were very sincere. 


            The church seemed to have a structure similar to Presbyterian order, and most workers were female, including the pastors.  Although they were scattered they had good church buildings and resources, they were well-educated, and serious.  It was refreshing to see the heartfelt sincerity in simple worship.  Often tears filled eyes while singing hymns.  There was no show, and little to excite the flesh, and the messages were simple to-the-point expositions from the Bible.  The leaders were very cautious of us, and it will take time to gain their trust as China is also infected with the false teaching, and many of the modern fads are working their way through the masses.


            Alec has a heart to live, learn, and serve in China, but God will have to make a way for he and his family.  There is much personal work to be done in their lives, and only God can do it.  Alec’s Chinese family was wonderful.  They are not believers, but they seem to respect and his beliefs, and were encouraging to him.


God bless you all!

“Keep Pressing On!”

Shane, Marilyn, Mary, & Caleb

Crossover Ministries Associates




Last Updated ( Monday, 21 September 2009 )
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