From Vyacheslav Khvostov
SGA-Sponsored Missionary Pastor in Russia.
As part of my ongoing church-planting ministry, I do a lot of ministry with teenagers organizing summer camps and clubs. Sometimes brothers and sisters in the church think they need a special call to work with teenagers and youth, but it’s really not true. Forests, tents, songs by the campfire, and other outdoor activities are not my natural element. But I do it because Gospel work with the young is our duty. Who, if not I?
The Taganai Mountains where we hold our camps are a wet place. It rains frequently. Without fail, it always rains at the beginning of our camp sessions. I am always tempted to cancel the sessions but then I get amazed at the enthusiasm of the children. They are always ready to go! So I have to humble myself and lead them to the mountains. But one particular summer camp session that I led taught me to be thankful that we went despite the pouring rain.
For this camp, I took seven teenage boys to the mountains, and it rained all day long as usual. We walked on into the rain and got soaking wet. We walked three miles along dirty, muddy roads hoping and praying that the rain would stop so we could climb the mountains. But it continued to rain. It was so damp that we could hardly start the campfire to prepare dinner. When it became dark, I told the boys that I could take them back to town if they wanted, but they begged me to wait until morning. They seemed to really need to be in such extreme conditions, which they lack in their normal lives.
When we got up the next morning, it was still raining. But the boys were still very much determined to stay in the forest. All of our things got wet. But I put a glad face and assured them that I liked hiking, and was ready to stay there for the third day as well. We never did get to the mountain climb. Our amusement consisted of jumping over the campfire, which was very weak with such wet wood and put out little heat. It was honestly the most miserable hiking trip I have ever been on!
On that third day, we collected all our things, packed up the tents and headed back home—in the rain. And as we went, my sadness turned into joy—because I saw seven happy teenagers thankful that they went and could have cared less about being so physically uncomfortable. All of these boys who were on this trip . . . who stayed three days in the wet forest . . . repented of their sins and were baptized. Four of them went on to become ministers in the church!
Editor’s Note: This report is a wonderful example of why your support of SGA-sponsored summer camps is so important. You are truly making an eternal difference in many young lives—half a world away!