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2010 - May-July PDF Print E-mail


239 Duke Road

Columbia, Louisiana 71418

(318) 649-7720


May - July 2010 Newsletter

Hello to all from Ukraine! I pray that this newsletter will greet you all with happy expectation to hear from us after a long summer of camps. It's been good, but we are tired. We have taken some time to rest, but most days people called or came after only little time of rest. It feels like we are getting a lot older because four years ago when we began to direct the camps, with most nights going to sleep after midnight and getting back up before 6:00 AM for three 15-day children's camps and then a youth camp added at the end, I don't remember feeling so exhausted as I have this year. We even subtracted one of the children's camps altogether and one day of the other two. Maybe I am just forgetting how tired I was in past years. One thing is for sure, the past year for us has been filled up with all kinds of events and circumstances. We've had a daughter start college and get married, a trip to China for Shane, a mom's heart attack, a dad's Alzheimer's worsening, a family business/livelihood on the brink due to the family crisis, a dad's crippling arthritis worsening, a volcano delay, a feud with officials, a brother's baby born three months early, and on and on. Stress has been a family friend who won't go home the last few months, so we just ask that you pray for us at a time when we need God's guidance more than ever in our life. We don't want our feelings to outweigh the voice of God in making decisions about the next steps we take in ministry.


Ministry Team in May:

Bro. Stan Wyant; his two daughters, Allison and Amy; Bro. Ken and Anna Gilmore; and Bro. Dylan Wickliffe came in May to help with camp preparation and to do evangelistic ministries. We were excited that they were with us because God really used them in a special way to minister to the people of Ukraine. They went with us to the Bele orphanage, and Allison did a baton sticks type routine and juggling while Bro. Stan told the salvation message, and then Amy read a very good Bible story from a children's Bible. They also gave the kids a bracelet gift that represented the plan of salvation. The kids really showed appreciation for the girl's ministry to them, and I think they were truly listening to their message about Christ and His salvation plan. Dylan was just an overall blessing to all, especially the young man named Victalic that we’ve worked with since the first year we came to this village. Please continue to pray for him. The group of men also had opportunity to speak and teach in the Tuesday night Bible studies and Sunday morning church services in the city, and with the interpreters we were preparing for camps.

While at the orphanage, the teacher who helps with us in summer camps came to visit and saw the girl's performance. He lives nearby and knows the Bele kids. He visits often while we‘re there. After seeing their ministry, he talked to the principal of the school where he teaches, and she gave an invitation for us to come to their school as well. We had started going to that village in the evenings just to visit and play with the kids, so some of the kids had already met us. They were all receptive, and we recognized many of them from past summer camps. We continued to go from time to time, and Bro. Stan was even able to teach some Bible lessons with a good crowd of kids. I think this has probably opened the door to the hearts of many of the kids in that area. An idea might be to go back there and have a small type outdoor VBS in the evenings. A small group of kids are always gathered late each evening when we go.

Mrs. Anna is a nurse, so she had planned to go into the village where we live to do some simple medical work. We had asked a few interpreters to come and work with us while the team was here, so they stayed in the camp at night so they could be here early in the morning each day. Most things we found were pretty simple, but one lady was such a shock. Her legs were literally rotting off. It was so hard to look at, and obvious that she was in pain. Yet...she just seemed resigned to the fact that she was cursed to this way of living. Anna recognized her immediately. The year before, just as she was about to close up the trailer in the camp where she was doing some simple first aid for the villagers, this lady had walked up and began to beg her for help. Anna had tried to do what she could for her, but that was not a lot. The lady told us that she had been given some cream by the medical group who came later in the year in November, and that it helped her a lot until it was gone. She then had started to use homemade treatments and had put some kind of leaves over the top of the deep rotting wounds. We asked her had she seen a doctor, and she told us that she had, but that they had wanted her to go into the hospital and she had refused to leave her home because she could not leave her work. Most villagers in Ukraine survive by gardens, and even if they go into the hospital, it appears they must still have someone who is able to bring them food each day since food is not always provided. I'm not sure how it would be for an older person. We treated her wounds and gave her new bandages and cream, instructed her in how to keep them clean, and hoped she would follow everything she was told. The interesting thing about that lady is that Mrs. Anna had prayed and asked God to allow her to see this lady again, but had no idea that she was actually from our village and that she lived very close to us. We visited her every other day for as long as Anna was there, and then later in the month, Bro. Jeff Robinson, Kayla (Ken and Anna's daughter), and also Maria Arnold arrived to stay for the summer camp season. We all continued to go see this lady and another elderly gentleman even after Mrs. Anna went home. Kayla, Maria, Lori, and I tried to go as often as we were able. When camps started, Kayla, Maria, Lori, and others kept going to see them from time to time. I happened to be walking home one day and ran into her, and saw that her foot was getting bad again, so Kayla wrote home to find out what to tell her. It was simply a matter of keeping the wounds clean and bandaged instead of putting the leaves that she'd taken up again. Anna told her to boil the bandages each day and keep everything very clean. I saw her again a few weeks ago, and her legs looked probably 80% better now, and she was walking to the bus to go shopping. She asked me what kind of gift she could give since Anna would not take money when she tried to give it. I heard from Kayla that she had come to camp just before she left to give her a gift to take back home to Mrs. Anna.

This team had also brought listening devices with Charles Stanley preaching. We gave many of these devices away. The most special one given for me was to a man down the road from us on the medical visits. His name is Joseph. He has been crippled for many years, and a few years ago, another nurse who came to visit told her sister about the man who worked in his garden on his knees. She had sent him back some knee pads to use, and after all those years, they were worn out. These girls got on that quickly, and began to find a way to get him some more. Because we had some teams coming for camps, that was one of the requests made to the teams for Joseph. It was the opening for ministry to him! When we headed out one day, I suggested that he might like to listen to one of the preaching devices. I knew he was almost deaf, but thought he might actually be able to understand it since it had speakers to go inside his ears. It was probably the most amazing thing I'd ever seen happen. Always before, he would cry and tell us how badly he felt about things, and as he talked, his son would scold him and tell him to stop crying. This day, his son came out with such a different attitude and even gave us flowers. Lori gave Joseph this device and explained how it worked, helping him put it inside his ears, Joseph's face got so serious and peaceful. He became the quietest and attentive I have ever seen a person in my whole life as he listened to the preaching that I realize he might be hearing for the first time ever. I wondered how long it'd been since he'd even been able to hear anything at all this clear. We just sat back on his bench and became still with him as he listened, and I guess it might've been the most awesome experience I've ever had in ministry. It was probably definitely one of the sweetest anyway. His son came out again, sat across from us, and after a few moments, he asked his dad what it was. The man told him it was preaching, and tried to get him quiet so he could continue to hear. We laughed and kept sitting there quietly. After a time, we talked a little more and then had to leave. We recently found out from his two sons who came to the camp with the mechanic that his device had stopped working. They said their dad had been crying and crying because he was so disappointed about it breaking. After camps, Shane and I found some Bible cassette tapes in Russian and a little tape player we had bought, so we thought about Joseph. We visited him one day and gave it to him, and he was so happy. We're hoping the ear phones from the other device will work for it, but his son had some ear phones that he said he'd get an adapter for. I hope it all works for him now. We will check again one day. Shane and I had visited him together before camps one day, and talked some to him about his salvation. He was quick to tell us that he was a Christian and that he believed everything about Christ. It was so sweet to hear him express such simple faith in Christ. Joseph also has two sons. One of his sons has been working at the camp for a while, and he has always been faithful and responsible, but out of nowhere, he did not show up for work one day, and then never came back again. We were told that he had gotten drunk and gone back to drinking. I could hardly believe that because I did not even know he had been a drinker before. We have seen him a couple of times since then, and he was drinking those days. It is not even like the same man. He seemed like he might've been ashamed. I wondered if he ever listened to those sermons on the device we gave his dad. The other son is a bad diabetic and has lost some of his toes and is not able to work because he cannot take the chance of getting hurt. Please pray for this man and his two sons!

We also went back to Mala Urivka, and were amazed to see that there were many changes there. Some people had completely moved away and others were not to be found. The older lady we had always prayed with was there, and she was glad to see us, although I'm not sure if she ever put us all together since Shane went one direction with another group and I was with this group without him. She can't see or hear very well, and because I'd been gone for a long time this last year, I don't know if she ever realized who I was. Seemed to me she might've had Anna and me confused, and wasn't sure which of us was who she thought. Ha-ha! We were able to give the preaching devices and salvation bracelets to a few people, but some refused to take them, thinking we are a cult. Some people in that village have never been very responsive or open to us as Baptist Christians.


The first camp was hard to start. We had to put up a fuss with the fire department, and even considered closing camps this year after the demands they made. At first, they had told us to put a fire alarm in one building, but later they began to make new demands. We realized they were expecting us to do almost $18,000 worth of unnecessary fire safety projects. We were shocked at the demand of such craziness considering that we've been through five years of camps without these alarms and almost no other public building has them. One demand was to put in a signal that was connected to the city that is more than an hour away. We began to try to explain to them how absurd some of their demands actually were for us. We had already cancelled one camp completely because of the financial crisis everywhere causing gifts to be less and products to rise. No way were we planning to spend such a vast amount on ridiculous demands by bureaucrats. We just simply had to send word out that camps would not happen if this was their demand. After Shane and other camp leaders spent two to three weeks worrying over this and wasting precious time wandering from one office to the next and being strung out and shoved around by people who can be manipulative and dishonest...and some of those were in our own camp, we finally got the word from the governor of this region that they should back off, so their demand lessened back to the one building. Our local sanitation is normally helpful, but the state inspection department sent ten people this year to inspect at one time. After all the fines they made to our private and free camp for their kids, and after statements they made, we realized that they were out to get the money they came for. One statement interpreted to us was, "Your camp is almost dangerous...because your documents are not in order."

Camp One was a Student Life team made up of several young ladies who stayed for most or all of the summer, others for all or part of camp one, and some of our own long-time co-workers. As usual, Shane set a smaller number for campers, but when the kids began to come, we ended up with almost 300 again...and that included many over the age limit. Because the coal mine gives invitations, we had to be more lenient with that issue. In the end, all things worked out okay with the ages, but we just have to keep a more watchful eye out with the older aged girls and boys in camp.

This was the first camp we'd ever had teachers for each single group so that teachers and interpreters were free to follow their group in the routine schedule each morning. It gave the teachers more time to get close to the kids they were teaching, and some teachers loved it. Our director and little kid's sports lady had to step down due to sickness (probably related to all the stress from camp planning), so we asked a young Ukrainian boy we call Russian Sasha to take the lead for games in the camp. He did a great job with the help of the team. We caught them sneaking to the hand-washing sinks at night to fill up water balloons they were using to play water-activity games during the hot, hot days. They were laughing and having a good time while all the kids were sleeping. The weather started off with a vengeance this summer and still hasn't let up. I think the temps have consistently stayed over 100F for about six weeks most days, and camp one was usually well over 100F with the humidity along with it. Felt like Louisiana weather without the air conditioners. I guess this was the hottest year ever to be without the pool, but at the end of last year, the liner had huge rips down the bottom. It was bought three years ago and was too expensive to have lasted such a short time, so we chose not to purchase a new one. We would never have guessed how hot and dry the weather would be this year. So...we replaced it with selling lots of cheap popsicles and ice cream, and the kids have finally proven that an excessive amount of ice cream does not make a person have a sore throat. Ha-ha! We had some sickness, especially with the stomach virus, but most of the sickness that came was from a germ that actually began before the ice cream ever showed up.

As it normally happens, the workers began to take the field and volleyball court during the time it was supposed to be for campers, and campers were scarce there. Shane even discovered that older boys had been "invited" to the camp to play the scheduled competition game between workers and campers instead of letting the campers play. Naturally, he got just a little bit upset and called them down about what they had done. It has been hard at times to make the adults realize that the camp is for the kids. At the time when campers were supposed to be at the field, we noticed that campers were actually being asked to step off the field so that another adult could make the game "more competitive" and equal to play. I was told by one of our Christian girls who work in camp that many workers who came to camp saw it only as a time to get to know Americans and have a good time for themselves, without thought of the expense and reason for the ministry. Some become a little angry if they don’t receive the amount of pay they feel they should receive, and they don’t like it when friends aren‘t hired back to work. So many seemed to misunderstand what the camp was all about...some interpreters, some technical workers, some parents, some officials, and even some Americans. I suppose we have become somehow like "only a boss" to many we hire at the camp, but we are thankful to God that, in spite of human efforts, even some of those who started off without an understanding of the ministry, have been effected in a positive way through the camps. Many adults have come to meet Christ and hundreds of campers. Camp life has always been

interesting for us as directors, and while we believe the workers and teachers did a good job ministering to the kids, we were always being kept busy trying to keep order about things that hardly made any sense.

But...overall the camp was peaceful, and kids responded each time Shane gave an invitation. Some came to pray about things in their lives while others wanted to pray in repentance. We allowed Yuri, that tall blond electrician we have walked and talked with for the last two years, and who is now attending an American sponsored seminary school in Kiev, to be in charge of assigning preachers for each night. He did a good job keeping things orderly, and several of the young Ukrainian boys were given opportunity to speak. Shane has been trying to allow the natural leadership to immerge. We were told that Curly Yeagor did an excellent job in taking the lead during worship services with the city group during the winter months while we were gone. He had planned to be in camps all summer, but he won a Chinese competition that allowed him to go to China on a type of work/education program. He had ended up being one of the top thirty in this program, and the first time anyone from Ukraine has had this honor. Even his mom and dad will be given a paid trip to come there when he receives his recognition. We are proud of him. He writes us from time to time and has already found a small group of believers to worship with. He is so excited that he is able to tell others about the gospel of Christ because now they are coming to him because of his success. Please pray for these boys as they begin to find their places in life and ministry.

Between camp one and two, we had three young people who wanted to follow Christ in baptism, so one Sunday, after city church services, we all met at our lake in the village. Natasha is the sister of Anya, a young lady who has been a believer since before we came. Natasha had just reached 18, and was old enough to follow her own conviction. Another was Luda, a girl who just came back from America and served as one of our top interpreters in camp this year. She made a profession of faith some years ago, but had never been baptized. The last was a young man we’ve worked with who was an orphan in Bele before we came to Ukraine. We call him Sports Sasha because he has helped with sports in camp since we began. He also believed in years past, but has just chosen to follow in baptism. It was a very sweet time of celebration for our city church group. Please pray for these young people!

Camp Two consisted of a group from North Monroe who were assigned to teach, along with their youth helpers. Another part of the team consisted of a group of youth from a church in Alabama. They did all of the day-time game activities with the help of those co-workers who stayed for a part or all of the summer and some from North Monroe. We had a total of 42 Americans at this camp. Wow! After considering what it took to get them here, financially and physically, we realized what a huge responsibility it was for us to put them to work. These two camps were the first time we'd ever actually tried scheduled game times for dorms into the daytime activities, and as I expected, there was some rebellion from a few who felt the field belonged to them. YES! One young man literally refused to leave the field at the time he normally used the field in past years to play all day long with only the boys who like soccer. We had to make him understand that there was a scheduled time for field games for ALL, not just some of the kids, and also a scheduled time for soccer. He'd have to wait until his scheduled time, which was actually at the prettiest part of the day for him. Eventually it worked out and they worked together, but sometimes dorm parents had to be called out to bring their kids to the field.

Sports and competitions are just a small part of camp life, but these are the things that consume our society everywhere we look. People like to be entertained and to entertain themselves by fighting against any kind of competitor. Over the years, we have been begged and pushed to "hire" a "professional sports man/woman" to be director over the camp, and every time, Shane reminded them that sports was not the main purpose or goal. So many could never grasp that our purpose for spending thousands of dollars for camp was not to entertain the kids with organized competition, but to grasp opportunities to be personal witnesses to them as they wandered the camp. We appreciate those who came to minister and to give a big part of their lives to offer the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ, whether it has been through working, playing, talking, walking, acting, sitting, or teaching in the camps. There were over fifty children and adults who professed Christ as their personal Savior in camp two. Many others responded to pray and to talk about problems in their lives, and some repented from sin.

Camp Three this year was youth camp. It consisted of a team brought by Bro. Jay Morgan and his wife Teresa. Most of their team members had come to camp before, but there were two new young

men and also our own son-in-law, daughter, and son. We still had a good number of summer camp workers who stayed for the youth camp this year since it came at an earlier date. In past years, many of our young workers had to return home to school, but we had about 22 Americans still in camp.

Youth camp has always been a bit more serious, but it is usually smaller, quieter, and with a few less problems overall. This year it came with a vengeance from the very first day. One group we had invited soon began to rebel about going to evening church services because it had "made them uncomfortable". This small group was led by a man who said he had once practiced Buddhism, but now I'm not sure what he believed. It was obvious that someone was behind the group rally to refuse to go to stage meetings. We discussed and tried to make them understand that if we let all groups who became "uncomfortable" just skip this part of the schedule, then another group might rise up who did not want to do a part of the schedule, and then another, and another. It could become out of control and there would be no sense in our purpose for camp. We explained that many children who have come into the camp each year, were not "forced" to believe anything--we just simply introduced them to the gospel--and then they have left out the gates the same way they came in--unchanged. But...all of them were made to follow the schedule. It can be hard to make people who have rigid beliefs to understand the principle of offering people an option...a choice. We explained that if campers are blocked from receiving the gospel of Christ altogether, then that is actually leaving them no choice at all. Christianity is based on God coming to man, and the tool He uses to present Himself to the world is by sending His people out to preach to them. I don't know why God chose to carry the message of salvation in that way, but if people aren't allowed to hear the gospel, then they aren't given a choice at all. We thank God that He made a way for thousands of children here in Ukraine to hear the message of Christ through the camps each year.

A small group left camp, and the rest of the camp was challenging for other reasons, but overall became peaceful. It was also a time for Shane and me to reflect on the last few years in Ukraine. Many youth responded during invitation, and in one group, the whole class wanted to be baptized. Because they were underage, we had to get permission from their parents, so in the end, only three were allowed. One girl was a pastor's daughter who had actually professed Christ as her Savior a few years before. We went to the local lake, and it was such a beautiful time of celebration for the girls, and a sweet way to end that camp! But...I was saddened as one of the girls stood on the bank of the lake crying because she was one of those who were not allowed. Many others professed Christ, but some have church homes they'll go back to and others didn’t choose or weren’t allowed to be baptized. Nevertheless, the seed has been planted.

Shane and I have made the decision to close out camp this month, return the keys to the coal mine, and go a different direction. It has been a fruitful ministry, but God is leading us in new places. We are praying, considering, thinking, watching, listening, and re-examining all opportunities for ministry here in Ukraine. We are still working in the groups and listening intently to their thoughts and desires, and hope to see leadership and vision emerge from within. There are also other types of ministry we are considering and looking into here, and praying that God will lead us in the directions He would have us to go. We don't believe that God is completely finished with us here in Ukraine yet, but we do know that Shane will be going to other places in countries where he went in the past. He is planning to return to China in September to be with Alec as he is going back to try to get started in a Bible school again. He is also planning to meet with Yeagor, and hopes that he will be able to go with him to where Alec lives to serve as interpreter there. Aren't the plans of God so carefully construed? None of us even knew that Yeagor was so good in the Chinese language, yet there he will be, and is waiting and willing to serve if he will be able. Yeagor thinks he will be living there for two years in this educational program, so you never know what God has in store. We will be going home for a time and then will return to help with the fall orphan camp here in Ukraine in October, if all goes as planned. When that camp is over, Shane is going back to India, and has asked Blond Yuri to go with him. They will be trying to get visas in the next couple of months. Shane is corresponding with contacts there, and making plans. I will be staying at home in the US with our son, and also will be making myself available to help our parents during this time of difficulty for them.

Keep Pressing On!

Shane and Marilyn Duke

Crossover Ministries

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