Teach English and Make a Friend in Ukraine

May 17 2016

It’s always an adventure recruiting native English speakers and Ukrainian participants for our two summer English camps in Ukraine.

We never know exactly how God is going to work, but he always comes through with the needed people.

For example, in the spring of 2009, we were getting a lot of interest from Ukrainian girls for camp, but we had only four American women signed up to come in August—limiting the spots for Ukrainians to eight.

Our camps are set up for a one to two ratio of native speakers to Ukrainians—allowing each Ukrainian to live in a room with a native speaker and increasing the potential for relationship building, language practice, and spiritual impact.

We had two Ukrainian girls we really wanted to invite—feeling confident they were spiritually ready, but we didn’t have the space.

So, we sent out a last-minute appeal via email for more North American or British women … and then, we prayed. One woman from Colorado opened her messages, and the appeal for more women volunteers leaped out at her. She sensed in her spirit an immediate call from God to go to camp.

It was late for her to join the team and to raise the funds, but God provided, and she came. God used her powerfully too, as one of her Ukrainian partners prayed to accept the Lord.

We always start recruiting our summer teams at the end of the camps the previous year because so many of the team members have been moved by the Spirit and have seen him work through them. They’re ripe and ready to come back.

We have many who come back year after year, they love it so much. “It’s the greatest two weeks of my year,” said a Kansas farmer after his fifth time at camp last year.

Jennifer Schreckengast, a caregiver for the elderly in Colorado, loved her first time at camp last year. And she’s signed up to join us again in August. “This has brought me closer to God,” she said. “To see his love be shown to others—it’s amazing!

“This camp changes everything I thought I knew about missions,” she added. “The disappointment I feel that I must leave. It’s like cutting a cord that is in my heart to Ukraine. It won’t stop me from coming back.”

These camps are a great way to show and share with pre-Christian Ukrainians what it means to live in relationship with Jesus Christ. Most of these Ukrainians come to the camp because they want to practice their English, but by the end, most of them have become quite interested in God and the Bible, and some even make commitments to follow Jesus.

Thankfully, God has provided full teams for our two camps this summer, but we are always looking for more people—especially for next year! If you have an interest in learning more, contact our Mobilization team at go@onemissionsociety.org for more information.

Even if you can’t come personally, please pray. We need more prayer warriors for Ukraine. And if you want to support the camps financially, here’s a link to help partially sponsor a Ukrainian to come: https://onemissionsociety.org/give/Ukraine-English-Ministries.

By Randy Marshall, OMS missionary and field leader in Ukraine

Tags: ukraine, summer english camp, volunteers, short-term mission,

English Camp Makes a Splash in Ukraine

May 3 2016

Olya, a 24-year-old graduate of the Linguistics University in Kiev, Ukraine, was so shy, she would barely mouth a word during our weekly Life Group meetings.

She was content to just sit and listen and think.

Sometimes, when we called on her, she would say some significant things, but she preferred not to talk much. Her quiet personality led her to feel rejected by some classmates during her school years, and that might have contributed to her reserved behavior.

Although she had made a decision to follow Jesus at one of our 2013 summer English camps and started attending a Life Group faithfully, she didn’t really grow significantly until one of the 2014 camps. We invited her to help reach out to new students, but God reached out to her.

“I understood what it means to live with Jesus and to follow him,” she wrote after camp. “I want to change my life totally. Not to be afraid to leave my old life and habits and to be brave enough.”

Now Olya is growing significantly. She has even led the Bible discussion at one of our weekly Life Groups a number of times. She is a thinker and not afraid to ponder questions deeply. She still doesn’t talk a lot in Life Group, but when she does, she usually shares a powerful idea or asks a significant question.

Olya still is learning boldness, but God is changing her. She recently shared how she felt the Spirit prompting her to challenge her pre-Christian brother about some disrespectful comments toward their parents.

He responded not with anger, but remorse—expressing that he feels helpless to stop his behavior. And he asked Olya for help—opening the door for deeper spiritual conversations.

Olya is just one of many Ukrainian young people who have been touched by the Spirit through the English camp ministry in Ukraine. We’ve been privileged to organize 20 camps in Ukraine since 1994.

A goal of our camps is not to teach English—but to help students who already speak English get lots of practice with native speakers. That’s why we invite teams of 10 to 15 native English speakers from North America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and New Zealand.

But our main goal is to place pre-Christian university students in a camp atmosphere with a group of vibrant, Jesus-loving Christians. And the students usually experience a love and acceptance that they’ve never felt before. It forces them to deeply consider the claims of Jesus and the Bible—most for the first time ever.

It’s always amazing to see students who come to camp with an ambivalence toward Christianity and the Bible join so enthusiastically in the worship by the end of camp. The Spirit of God and the love of Jesus have a powerful transforming influence.

To give to the Ukraine Summer English Camp fund, click here.

By Randy Marshall, OMS missionary in Ukraine

Tags: ukraine, summer english camp, students, fun, teaching english, life groups,

Working Hand in Foot

January 21 2016

Overwhelmed. Overjoyed. Overexcited. All of the emotions that we experienced as our family of 5 stepped off of that airplane in Budapest, Hungary, to share in the indescribable ongoing work that God called us to be a part of last summer. Quickly, we realized that in an unfamiliar culture and place, with perfect strangers, we had one common bond. One like mind. One Mission as we call it.

Perceptions fall away as you realize that God has prepared you for a time just as this. Each of us is given a set of unique talents, gifts, and resources. Just as 1 Corinthians 1:12 talks about a body with many parts, each doing its function, we saw the body of Christ come together in Hungary.

Each person, clearly ordained for specific purpose, fulfilled their role as the weeks rolled on and opportunities arose. Career missionaries, short-term missionaries, volunteers, various denominations, and churches all working together. Everyone combining their resources to minister through the English Camp, Roma Camp, and outreach projects to the Syrian refugees. A true example of the church.

The team in Hungary is continuing the next step of faith by building a literal place of connection through the new Transformational Ministry Center in the 14th district of Budapest. A physical structure for the body to work and grow for the glory of God. To train, disciple, make connections, build relationships, form partnerships with fellow believers, and transform lives for Christ.

God calls each of us to be used by him for him. How would he have you to become a part in sharing in the next step in building his kingdom in Hungary?

By Shannon & Aaron DePue, Short-term Volunteers in Hungary, Summer 2015

Tags: hungary, ministry center, team, summer english camp, roma, family missions,