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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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Sam Wright

Kerch Kids at Alushta Camp

Sevastopol City Kids Camp

Inkerman Camp

Balaclava Outreaches

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The Least of These ©2003 - 2012 Copyright - The Least of These All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, 28 June
   Wow it’s so wonderful to finally make it back to Ukraine and to see our team leaders, Rich and Vitalik. The long flights over here went well (Praise God) and I somewhat got to know my two American teammates - they’re incredible women and I cannot wait to see how God uses us on this trip. We already found out that the plans are different and that our final destination has slightly changed (we thought we were going to Kerch, but now are going to a small town called Alushta), but I think - or KNOW - that it’s still going to be a fantastic ministry. Now, we’re waiting at the train station and will soon begin this amazing journey.

Sunday, 6 July
   What an amazing first week! There’s so much to tell, but to write it all down would fill the pages of a Steinbeck novel! God has given our team such remarkable unity, and has definitely begun to change these orphans’ lives.
   We (Vitalik and us three Americans) arrived at the camp Sunday night and found the conditions to be, as Vitalik stated, “awkward”, and this “awkwardness” continued through the week. We sometimes had water, sometimes not, sometimes had a place to shower, sometimes not…but these were minor setbacks (if you can even call them “setbacks”) when our goal is glorifying God and sharing the good news with these precious children. It forces us to rely solely on God for our comforts.
   The other seven Ukrainian team members arrived Monday around noon-ish with all of the children from the Kerch Internot. It was so good to meet the team and see the children that we’d be living with and ministering to for the next two weeks.
   There is little to no help from the camp workers trying to set up scheduling for our programs. The first day of ministry, after constantly being told we couldn’t perform our program because the children were “busy”, we finally just took the team out into the hall and began singing songs. After a few songs, a couple of children started to gather to listen and watch and a few of the brave ones even participated. We did our entire program with maybe only ten kids, but I knew that even if we only shared the Gospel with ten kids during this trip, that it was totally worth coming.
   Throughout the week God really answered our prayers and we began to see the number of kids attending the programs increased. And with that, we started to see changes in the kids - more openness, better behaviors, more participation…and saw a change in the older kids and those that weren’t coming every day to see us do our program. They would tend to walk slowly past us during our programs and try to catch what we were saying as they passed

(but pretend not to be interested) or juggle a soccer ball within hearing distance, again acting as if they didn’t care. God is truly working here.

  Today we had a church service and invited the kids - we actually had more children attend this than have a tendency to come to our programs. At the end of the service, for reasons I’m still not sure of, one of the boys I am very close to (his name is Artome) leaned over and began to cry on my leg. We sat there for maybe ten minutes just weeping together. I can see that the Holy Spirit is doing powerful things in this boy’s heart.
   We’re now over half way done with this camp, and way excited to see the miracles God performs in the last four days of ministry. Our God is an awesome God.

Friday, 11 July
   So…we’re finished…and wow, we went out with quite a bang. The power of prayer is incredible and we truly saw God’s sovereignty this past week. When I get home, I know that I won’t be able to describe the experiences that I’ve had to my friends because they won’t understand. Even writing them down doesn’t do the miracles justice.
The easiest sign to physically see that God was working in the lives of the kids was the number attending programs. I mentioned    in the last entry that we started out ministering to about ten kids…by the last few days of our programs we were presenting the good news of Jesus Christ to 40 or 50 kids!! The increase is phenomenal and certainly has not come about by simply human works. Also the kids were more inclined to participate in skits, songs, crafts, and even in prayer. This is a great testament to the work God was doing through us.
   It was very difficult leaving the children. Last night, many of the children whom we were close to held tightly onto us until late into the night and cried and cried. They didn’t want to see us go and return to their normal (very difficult) lives. Though I do not know how many of the children we ministered to accepted Christ while we were here, I know that over the past two weeks, we have planted seeds that in time, God will help to sprout and bear fruit. It was incredible the miracles we witnessed in these precious lives.

Saturday, 19 July
   Well…another week down and very new and different experiences. This was an…interesting week. Not better or worse than any of the other ministries - just different. This week I was in a city called Sevastopol working at a Christian camp put on by a church that has connections with “The Least of These”. The team was comprised of members from the church (two of whom I had worked with from camp Gorney last year), several members of a different “The Least of These” team, and me and one of my teammates from Alushta, Serge.
   This camp was very difficult for me to help out. Because this was a Christian camp, and because I don’t know the language, I could not help lead the Bible times, couldn’t really participate in many skits, couldn’t lead prayer. I ended up being more crowd control than anything. But despite that, I know that God used me simply to show the kids how to live life in the joy of the Lord.
More than anything, I believe God used this trip for my own maturation. The circumstances that we were in weren’t always easy - we had to walk to and from almost everywhere (to the point where my feet would have bloody sores on them from my tennis shoes), we had food MOST of the time but sometimes went hungry, the kids were very physically and emotional taxing, the church flooded…so all of this added up fast. But at the end I realized that none of it was all that bad. It required me to turn to God for strength - it helped me trust in Him that everything was going fine and there is nothing that I can’t handle with my God giving me strength. I noticed that I began to pray more, meditate on His word more, and just live in a more godly way. It’s strange how God works.
   So right now, Serge and I am traveling by train to the next camp - this one is in Inkermann, a village in Sevastopol (I guess you could call it a suburb almost), and we’ll be sleeping in tents for the week! It’s good that God’s been preparing me to trust in Him for my strength because I’m deducing we’ll have no toilet, shower, or running water! But I know it’ll be a fantastic ministry.

Sunday, 27 July
   Oh my goodness…God is good, all the time, and all the time, God is good. This week of ministry was absolutely incredible. So much happened during this week, that I don’t even know where to begin writing down my thoughts. We reached so many kids and saw so many lives being changed that I am astounded at the power of God.
Yet again, this camp (9:00 am - 5:00 pm) was extremely taxing physically, mentally, emotionally…but we were given so much strength to push onwards through God. We partnered with a church in Sevastopol, and between those 30-some people and the 8 “Least of These” team members, God used us to reach almost 120 children! Not only that, we had numerous parents calling or coming to the camp to figure out who we were, or what we were doing that made their child so happy when he/she would return home in the evening. We saw a progression of behavior in these kids from day 1 through day 6 that was only possible by the grace of God.
   The kids were somewhat “stand-offish” the first day, but by the second and third, were very open and we started to get glimpses into what their lives were like. Many of them came from families with only one parent or an abusive situation. Those kids came to us with deep pain in their eyes, but while with us, we started to see a new glow; a new joy that they began to receive from seeing God. It was so neat to see this change. By the end of the camp, there were a number of the kids calling different team members “Mama” and “Papa”. This was, in one sense encouraging to see that we (or God through us) were able to affect them so drastically in such a short period of time, but on the other side, sad to realize that they didn’t necessarily have any sort of encouraging “Mama” or “Papa” to return home to. I can only pray that as they left camp for the last time last night, that someday the seeds that we planted will one day bear fruit, and that they may find God to be their “Heavenly Papa”.
So I have one week left to go (wow it’s gone by fast), and I can’t wait to see what miracles God performs these last days of ministry.

Saturday, 2 August
   I regret to write that I’m finally on the plane heading home, but it is what it is. The last week of ministry was one of the most inspiring, one of the most powerful, and one of the most humbling weeks of my life thus far. As I have written many times before in this journal, it’s truly impossible to describe the feelings I have or the experiences I’ve been in throughout this past week…but I’ll do my best.
   We traveled back into Sevastopol to do ministry in one small orphanage (only about 15 children) and in a park in Balaclava (a smaller town just outside Sevastopol). However by Tuesday, we began a third ministry in a apartment complex’s courtyard type area (if that makes sense), also in Balaclava. We stayed in an apartment high-rise of a women connected with “The Least of These”. We would, in the morning before our first ministry (at the orphanage), prepare a program and crafts for all three of the places. At 10:00 we would leave for the orphanage, at 2:30 we would go to Balaclava for the second program, and then directly to the third by 6:00 (these were long days).
   Working with the orphan children was amazing. They’re so beautiful and were fairly open to us even by the end of the first day. It was so cool to see the teachers of these children sit down with them during our programs and sing the songs and listen to the message. Usually these directors look down upon Christian teaching, so it was a real blessing for them to be so positive. We also saw God perform a miracle in bringing a boy that we had ministered to in Inkermann to this orphanage. He had stolen two cell phones from Vitalik and was in need of forgiveness. The day he was brought to the orphanage was the day we were doing the program about forgiveness. It’s amazing how God works, even if the situation seems bad. This young boy was really searching for God and was brought to us a second time for us to show him

    answers. As his life goes into a chaotic spiral now (with being thrown into the orphanage system), God was able to show him a way out of his pain.
   The other two ministries in Balaclava were also phenomenal. The earlier of the two, we saw persecution by the Ukrainian police and by several women living in the apartment complex. Instead of dashing our ministry, we were able to show the love of Jesus not only to the children, but also to the persecutors, by the way we were able to handle the harassment. God’s glory was shown even in the midst of turbulent waters. Praise God!! And the latter of the two Balaclava ministries went very smoothly and the kids were open and embracing of the truth.
   Sitting here on the plane writing this and reading about all of the situations I’ve gone through, I can say without a shadow of a doubt that this was one of the, if not the most impacting times of my life. I witnessed miracles being done left and right, saw children’s lives being significantly changed, found joy in the times of persecution, and through it all, was able to grow emotionally, mentally, and most importantly spiritually. It will be very challenging returning home and not being able to describe to my friends this remarkable trip I’ve been a part of. Even if they do ask about my stories, they will not be able to comprehend the miraculous happenings that took place because they weren’t a part of them. On the other hand, this trip equipped me to resist temptations and rely on God in any incident, good or bad, and with this newly strengthened behavior, I am confident that I’m not finished with my ministry…but that I’m just starting it!

I planted the seed, Apollos watered it, but God made it grow.
So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything,
but only God who makes things grow.
The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose,
and each will be rewarded according to his own labor.
For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.
~1 Corinthians 3:6-9

The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me
to preach the good news to the poor.
He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed,
to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.
~Luke 4:18

Summer 2008