August 21, 2014
I wanted to give you a quick update on what has been happening out in Sumy during these turbulent times in Ukraine. This summer has been a challenging one, as God has opened a door for Sumy Grace Church to minister in a new area – to many individuals who have fled the fighting that has been taking place in southeastern Ukraine.
This refugee ministry began late in June, as a few families began to arrive from the areas which had been experiencing the worst battles. As the situation continued to escalate there, and as the conflict began to become centered in the more populated areas, more people began to arrive. By late July 50-60 people were living out at Grace Camp. This number continues to fluctuate as people both come and go. The ages and circumstances are all different, but one thing is the same – all are hurting and needing physical and spiritual help.
God has provided people and resources locally to help meet the needs. People have been donating produce from their gardens, churches have been taking up donations to help pay the bills of hosting and caring for these displaced individuals and families. Different individuals from the church are taking part in ministering to the people who are at the camp, both facilitating their logistical needs (cooking, helping with transport, various paperwork needs, etc) and spiritual needs by leading bible studies and services at various times during the week.
These ministries are having an impact on their lives. God is working through different individuals to impact lives for eternity. One middle aged couple that I drove into Sumy as they were beginning the trek back south made this comment to me:
“My mom was a communist, and that is the home that I grew up in. This God thing, I need to think about it. What you are doing here, it is amazing. We are very thankful for it. I’ve never thought about God before like this. I really need to think about this.” By appearances, they looked as if they had been successful in business and life. But their experiences over the past while had shaken them to the core and they were looking for answers.
Another individual was also shaken by what she had been experiencing, but she found answers. Natasha is a well educated individual and successful in her career. But the circumstances she found herself in, with war in her city and she herself displaced and her future uncertain had shaken her to her core. She began to look for answers. Through the ministry of various individuals at the camp, different discussions, bible studies and just attending the events that were happening, God began to change her heart. Leanne had been building a relationship with her, and one evening she had the opportunity to use God’s Word to show Natasha how to have a relationship with Christ. Natasha repented and accepted Christ that evening. Up to that day, she had been struggling with depression and fear. The next morning it was a different lady who came to breakfast. God had changed her heart. Her joy was evident. She said, “I’m not depressed or scared anymore. I have peace.” Praise the Lord!
These ministries have been going on parallel to the regular ministries of the camp over the summer. It has been challenging, but God has used these ministries as part of the ministry to these hurting people.
It has also been challenging financially for the church and the camp. As was said earlier, locally there have people and churches that have been helping. But it is a challenge and there is a need. The camp has been using funds that were set aside for other purposes (such as monthly bills etc) to help cover the expenses that are being incurred. We pray that this period of conflict and war in the southeast will come to an end soon in order that people can return to their homes. But whatever the case, this ministry will be continuing at a minimum sometime into the fall.
Would you consider partnering with Sumy Grace Church and Sumy Grace Camp by donating towards this ministry? By giving to the camp ministry project you will help meet the present and future needs of housing, feeding and ministering to the refugees who are there and who will be coming. Please pray and ask God how you can be involved. This is an immediate need and one that will have immediate impact.
If you would like to donate, please download and print off this form and mail your donation to SEND (either the Cdn or US office as is applicable) or donate online at www.send.org/sumy-grace-camp
If you have any questions, etc, please feel free to drop me a note or give me a call
On behalf of SG Church and SG Camp leadership