Children use macaroni and spray paint to make crafts during a Bible camp on the Sea of Azov in Ukraine. (PHOTO PROVIDED BY SASHA PROKOPCHUK)
Even in troubled Ukraine — a country on the brink of civil war — there’s still a place where children can splash in the waves, spray paint macaroni and seashells and learn about Jesus.
Recently, five members of the Transfiguration Church of Christ in Donetsk, Ukraine, hosted a Bible camp for 34 children — most of them orphans — along with three school teachers and a physician.
The campers traveled from their orphanage in eastern Ukraine — where pro-Russian separatists are accused of killings, abductions and torture as they fight with Ukraine’s military — to the port city of Berdyansk, on the Sea of Azov. There, the Christians taught Bible classes, “speaking about the Gospel, faith, kindness and friendship,” said Sasha Prokopchuk, minister for the Transfiguration church. (See his recent “In the Word” devotional, “Jesus: ‘The most stable thing in our country.'”)
Children listen to a Bible lesson at the camp. (PHOTO PROVIDED BY SASHA PROKOPCHUK)
“You could say it’s a miracle of God,” Prokopchuk said. “The director of orphanage, in these perilous times, entrusted the children to our team from the Church of Christ, and we were able to take the children away from the town where there is war.
“It is already a success and a blessing when 34 orphans live in safety. A schoolteacher who came with the children was literally in tears, thanking the church that her kids could sleep peacefully.”
Children play in the waters of the Sea of Azov during the camp. (PHOTO PROVIDED BY SASHA PROKOPCHUK)
The camp followed a four-day seminar for church leaders, titled “Every day with Christ.” Despite the threats of violence, 30 people left their homes to attend the seminar, Prokopchuck said.
“We were together in prayer, reading Scripture, singing and simply communicating with each other,” he said. “We understood more completely how Christ gives his peace to those who come to him. At the seminar, we all found this calm and peace in our hearts.”
Meanwhile, the church continues to meet and pray, Prokopchuk said, noting the words of Jesus from Luke 6:27-31:
“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.”