Summer vacation is a joy for Ukrainian children! Their leisure becomes very diverse: outdoor games, hiking by the river, basking in the sun, trips with their parents to the sea and, of course… day camp!
Through our partnership with Mission Eurasia, young evangelists travel from village to village, sharing the gospel with children across the country. This year, hundreds of children have the opportunity to play games and participate in social-distanced outdoor activities. And the best part, each child who attends a camp receives a Spark magazine and a children’s Bible!
In the village of Sokolovka, Ukraine, we met a very interesting Roma family. Two girls, ages 11 and 12, brought their three younger brothers to the camp—the youngest was just three years old. At first, the kids felt very uncomfortable. But, over time, they played calmly among the other children, talking and laughing. The older girls looked after their brothers and it seemed it was not a burden for them to help the young ones participate in the games, or even carry them in their arms. The boys, in turn, were very obedient. They were respectful and did not run away when asked to sit down and listen to the Bible lesson.
Roma culture does not carry a positive reputation among most Ukrainians, and it is often assumed Roma children behave badly and are undisciplined. But this family proved the inaccuracy of this stereotype! They were delightfully behaved. This was such a good reminder that people shouldn’t be judged by their appearance or ethnicity. We are all people made by God, and must always respect others who are different than ourselves.
As she held her brother close, the eldest daughter, Sofia, informed us she dreams of being an artist and inspiring the world with her paintings. Her younger brother, looking intently at a Spark magazine, seemed to enjoy the colourful pictures. To help engage the child more deeply in Scripture, I leaned over and pointed at a page, simply asking him to count the animals. I was shocked when he didn't understand what I was asking! Sofia told me her younger brothers were unable to read. Confused, I asked the young boy why he doesn’t read, write or count, even at school. The boy said nothing, so Sofia shrugged and told us none of her brothers and sisters had ever gone to school and explained their parents did not make enough money to pay the fees.
We encouraged Sofia to tell her parents about Jesus and learn by reading the Spark magazine themselves. Our prayer is that these children’s parents will read the Bible and Spark magazine aloud with their whole family so they may grow in Christ together. Please pray this family is able to find the funds to send their children to school, and that they will one day ask Jesus into their hearts forever.