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English Camp for youth in the War Zone was happening! During the week of camp, these youth learned more English, played silly games as well as real sports, and heard messages from the Word of God. Lives are changing for eternity!
Artem is from Mariupol, Ukraine, only eight miles from the war front. Every youth in Artem’s town has been affected by the ongoing war in Eastern Ukraine. Some have lost family members, most live with the constant sound of artillery fire. They are so used to the sounds of war that many young people can tell the caliber of the artillery projectile simply based on the whistling sound . It is part of life, but life goes on in their city. Four times a week, Artem and some of his friends meet with Coach Sasha, who runs the Youth for Christ Day Centre in Mariupol. Coach trains them in soccer, lifeskills, and introduces them to Jesus through stories from the Bible. Artem’s eyes lit up when he was telling me about the Day Centre and Coach Sasha , because it is a place of safety and hope and constancy in the middle of a lot of uncertainty.

This past summer, I was part of a partnership between YFC in Ukraine and YFC in Kentucky, USA, to lead an English camp for Artem and other youth from seven Day Centres near the war zone. It was Artem’s first time at a summer camp, let alone a Christian summer camp, and he thought it was a lot of fun!

In the middle of the week, Artem came up to me with a craft project he had created: an angel made of cloth. He was proud of his project and excited to give it to me. I found out later that I had been chosen as his “secret angel” , so he had made the gift for me. There is a passage in Psalm 91, which is called the Soldier’s Psalm, related to angels. Receiving Artem’s craft and finding out I was his secret angel made me think of those verses: “If you say, ‘The LORD is my refuge,’ and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. ” (Psalm 91:9-11, NIV, emphasis added)
On the last night of camp, Artem came forward to give his life to Christ. It was a very meaningful and real experience. Each of the roughly fifty campers who came forward sat down with a teacher or counselor to talk about the spiritual decision they were making – I got to meet with Artem.

“Why did you come forward?” I asked Artem. “I want to follow Christ now and change the way I am living,” came his reply. Talking with him was exciting for me, but I was even more excited to know that Artem was going home with Coach Sasha; Artem would have a solid base to lean on as he was learning about his new life in Christ.

A very short time later, Coach Sasha found me and told me that Artem and some of his friends had already asked Coach to take them to church once they got home to Mariupol. Taking an interest in church was something brand new for them, and Coach is all in!

I still have Artem’s cloth angel. It reminds me to pray for him and his friends and Coach Sasha. I pray for them that they will continue choosing to “make the Most High their dwelling” and, of course, for their safety in the midst of the war zone. Will you join me in praying for Artem?

-Mike Manna, Youth for Christ Global Training Team Coordinator
Youth aren’t the only ones who get to go to camp; but for adults it’s often called a “conference” instead. Youth for Christ in South Africa recently hosted four Catalyst Youth Leadership conferences across their nation. Attendees value the training they receive at these Catalyst conferences because Youth for Christ is seen as being at the forefront of youth ministry leadership development in South Africa. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed the morning sessions, as they spoke directly to leaders on how they lead during these times. We were made to understand that leading a youth group today is more challenging than 10 years ago mainly because technology and other social media has impacted what we do and perceive” 
-LoReal Burton, Nazarene Church

“We gained great value out of the conference and believe that this has put us in a better position to reach out and guide our youth towards a healthy relationship with themselves, Jesus, and their family and friends.”
-Pastor Rene Van Eck, Bikers Church
The YFC Prayer Team would love to pray for you and any concerns you may have. Please let us know by clicking the image above.
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