By Steve Znachko,
MTU pastor, supporter, and friend
I am right now in Ukraine and have just returned from visiting the camp for disabled children MTU puts on each year. It has been a challenging week for over 170 children, parents and volunteers. The conditions are difficult to begin with but even more so this year as the camp has experienced illness, rain every day and the loss of power and water for 1 days due to lightning strikes. You would never know it was difficult by looking at the campers and the 40+ volunteers, some Americans, some MTU staff, but mostly college aged Ukrainians who give up their vacations, free time and the opportunity to earn much needed money all to come to a camp with 2 “showers” and just few more toilets. But what happens here is something you must see to believe.
Children mostly shunned in public are each assigned a personal volunteer and the sole job of this volunteer is to love this child like they are loved by Jesus. These children are most lovable, but not always easy to love. During the week the volunteers will carry them or wheel them to meals, wipe their noses and faces as needed and cheer their every move and accomplishment. For this week the child is not a “disabled child”…but instead a beloved child of a King! Every child is assured to “win” one of the activities and every child receives a medal and does a victory lap in the Special Olympics while hearing their name chanted by hundreds to applause and shouts of “way to go”.
The parents watch all of this and there are ALWAYS tears! It is obvious that deep wells of running water have landed on some very barren land. They can finally release their children to the care of another, they can finally rest…they can finally laugh! Is it any wonder they are more than willing to hear whatever they can about this Jesus who generates such a miracle.
This is my 16th camp. It never fails to encourage me. It never fails to challenge me.
Today, I saw Light overcome darkness (Acts 26:18) at a camp in the woods of Ukraine…and I will never be the same, I don’t ever want to be the same.
Friends, prayer warriors and supporters, this year 105 children with disabilities and 84 parents\caregivers attended MTU overnight summer camps. 96 volunteers and 15 MTU staff from over 25 churches both US and UA served families with children with disabilities and orphans. 13 caregivers and 11 children prayed to receive Jesus, 8 people renewed their commitment to follow Christ. Let’s continue to pray for the seeds planted to grow in their hearts and bring fruit hundredfold.