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A team of four from St Philips ran an "English Camp" in Svalyava, Ukraine in August. Alan Bain, Scott Joyce, Tina Joyce and Gill Skuse joined an international team of 14 Czechs and members of Svalyava Baptist church for the camp which drew in up to 70 children young people and parents.  

 Friday 24th August

 We reached the climax of the week today as we took as our source stories the death and resurrection of Christ. Not easy subjects - but the team went into the story with the same enthusiasm, and children and young people gained a great deal from reading it.

So many of the young people here do not understand or know the story, but the word of God is reaching into their hearts. One young lady from Alan's advanced english class made a comittment last night. She really only came into the church for the first time through the camp.

In our meeting we saw a powerul move of the spirit as we explained how Christ has taken away sin on the cross and how we can reach out now to God. Three  books, from small to large, illustrated how sin builds up in our lives but how Jesus takes the sin on himself on the cross.  The resurrection is the proof that what he came to do he accomplished. It's remarkable how such a message is received here, and once again, when invited, many hands were raised to reach up for what God has for them.

We also led a service for church members tonight on the theme of spiritual warfare. Some from the camp who dont go to church came along. Once again, its such a privilege to be on a mission where we see God so powerfully at work.

Gill had a nice surprise from her class. Three teenage lads came up to her today and presented her with 3 sweet lollies. They said, "You are the best English Teacher we have ever had."!

Tina on the other hand went into a shop today to get some sweets for her class and came out with a quarter of a kilo of cough sweets.

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Thursday 23rd August

We have had a great Bible teaching time with stories of Jesus calming the storm and the miracle of the loaves and fishes. The young people here just lap it all up. The English teaching is a lot of fun with translations of the text, reflection on it and lots of quizzes and interactive games to keep up the interest.

After the first session they go off for a time of games, crafts and music which keeps them refreshed before coming back for the second session. Our evening meetings are a blast with lots of fun and music and a retelling through drama and a video of the Bible story. There are always lots of pictures takenwhich also give a recap of the day.

Tonight we asked for the children and young people to raise a hand to come to Christ and around 15-20 did. You never quite know what it means but it certainly shows the power of the word of God already at work in their young lives, and its just as important for young people and children to make a committment to Christ as it is for adults. There are many adults who still remember how important it was for them as children.

There's no chance to really stop and see the area but we are just loving  being on this mission and seeing God at work in all these young lives. Its a privilege to be working with the Czech and Ukrainian team and to see how God can bring us all together in the Gospel. They are all such great people!

Last night we heard from a Ukraine family of how it was with the Soviets in charge and how they had clandestine meetings of the church in the woods. They would be arrested just for having a Bible at home and one family wrote it out by hand in sections so they could hide it from police searches. Now we can preach freely and give away Bibles.  What a privilege we have - dont take it lightly

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Wednesday 22nd August

We are two days into the camp and it's building all the time. Hovering just over 60, the young people and children are bringing in their friends and family all the time. We are working hard at the English teaching based on the gospel of Mark.

 

The first day we looked at Jesus calling the disciples and yesterday it was the healing of the paralysed man. The plain English Gospels we brought with us are perfect for the task and they are managing to read them easily. It’s amazing to think that the majority of them do not know any of the Bible stories and are reading them for the first time.

The Czech team are brilliant and working alongside us to do games, crafts and activities like a home grown choir. Scott is coming into his own with his own unique form of rap to worship songs - he had the whole gathering dancing to drum beats last night in the evening meeting. It was quite a sight!

Evening meetings are creative, fun and powerful with a Gospel message based on the passage which hits home to the oldest or youngest. Some good news we heard last night is that five people joined the church as a result of last year’s camp and two of them are now also bringing their whole family along. So it’s good to hear about the concrete results of our mission.

Today we prepare to do our third day based on Jesus calming the storm. The church here is hospitable, grateful and warm. We are enjoying the food and one plus for Alan is that one Czech team member speaks Spanish so languages around the dinner table are often, English, Ukrainian, Russian, Czech and Spanish!

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Monday 20 August

We arrived after a long journey from Budapest, which is as beautiful as ever, and were greeted with a wonderful Ukrainian meal that seemed never ending. They were delighted to see us and we soon felt at home.

The English Camp is like a holiday club of children from 6 years old up to late teens with lessons and activities from 1-7pm. We finish with sketches, songs, a talk and photo round-up of the day. It's all a lot of fun and there are children everywhere! We're working with a team of Ukrainian church members and six Czechs and we've already got to know some of the characters in our groups.

Swalyava is a small town with poor houses and some large houses side by side. Life for the people here is difficult for many and gleaming Mercedes occupy the same pot-holed streets as the horse and carts bringing home the workers. The church stands resplendent amongst all this and is a sign of the Good News amongst the difficulties and hardships they face. The church is an old converted cinema that has been rebuilt over many years. You go through one door and it’s nice tiles and go through another and it’s all falling to bits.

We are working really together well as a team with Tina and Scott on the elementaries, myself on the intermediates and Alan with the advanced. All of the children and young people just love it and they are so keen to learn. Our Czech friends are a joy to work with and help with the classes and run music and craft workshops and take over all the sports, which is great for us and gives us a breather.

The Gospel comes over well in the evening meetings and we can see it’s all sinking in. Today we used the story of the call of the disciples and tomorrow it’s the man being let through the roof to meet Jesus. Pray for the word of God to sink into the hearts of all those on the camp!

Gill

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Charity Number

The Parochial Church Council of the Ecclesiastical Parish of St Philip & St James' Odd Down, Bath and Wells, is a registered charity No: 1131533

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