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A ministry targeting young people around the world, sharing the Love of God in Word and Deed.

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Margaret Jones

  For two weeks this summer, home was an a-frame cabin in the Crimean Mountains of Ukraine. My bedroom was shared with four new friends who came from various parts of America. Our neighboring A-frame housed our Ukrainian team members. My laundry room was a red rubber tub and a clothes line. My kitchen was a cafeteria shared with many children. Life was definitely different than the life I was used to.

There are some places where the goodness of God can easily be seen. There are some circumstances where God’s finger prints are obvious. However at Camp Gorney, the evidence of our loving Heavenly Father is much harder to see and I had to look through new eyes.

   This camp was different from the camps I had attended as a child. Here no parents came to drop their children off, double-checking to be sure that they had enough bug spray, band aids, and a jacket, just in case it got cold at night. At Camp Gorney, a van brought the children up as a group. There were no backpacks, sleeping bags or new outfits purchased for camp. They piled out of the

van and were placed into what they ironically called “family groups.” But no one fussed over them individually.

This camp doesn’t last one or two weeks. These children will live at Gorney for three months. There were no horses to ride or paddle boats to take out on a lake; but there were beautiful mountains.

   Camp Gorney is a camp for orphans. Many of these children have spent six or more summers here. At the end of camp, they will pile back into the vans and return to their orphanages to begin a new school year and another year of hoping, dreaming that someone, somewhere, will want them in their family.

   For two weeks, I had the privilege of stepping into their world. What I found were children whose childhood was interrupted by trauma. Some had weathered their traumas better than others. The first night there, one of the boys tried to take his life but failed. However, his trail of blood stains the pavement as a testimony to the depth of his despair. Some children had siblings with them at camp, while others had no one in the world they could call a family.

   I was amazed at the willingness of the children to trust us and want to be with us. It was easy to look into the eyes of each child and tell who had hope and who had given up on ever having a family and home. For two weeks, I simply offered them the love of Jesus Christ and the arms of a mama.

   I fell in love with all of them, some more than others. I can’t tell you how many back rubs I gave, or hugs and kisses. I do know my American “space” was invaded everyday and I began to enjoy the closeness.

   My heart was broken as I saw little 8 and 9 year old girls spending their evenings at “Disco” learning to dance, instead of having someone read them bedtime stories. I cried many mornings when having time with the Lord, as I prayed for these children. Given a chance, many of these children would make it. Given a family, many would thrive.

   The children of Camp Gorney are resilient, creative, funny, full of life and eager to learn. My prayer for the least of these is that others will pick up the burden for them and many will find their way into loving, Christian families. There are blessings waiting for you, if you choose to love these children.

Summer 2007