An all-age team of 10 recently made a big impact for God in Western Ukraine, by running a Christian English Camp at the Nagyberg Lyceum.
Led by Rev. Richard Kerr and his wife, Brenda, the group from Templepatrick, where Richard is minister, and Woodvale Presbyterian Churches travelled via Dublin and Budapest to the Transcarpathian region of the Ukraine.
Husband and wife, Colin and Anne McClean were two members of the team.
Galgorm native, Colin said: “Our Congregation is partnered with the Hungarian Reformed Congregation in Fornos, situated in the most westerly region of the Ukraine.”
The Team proved to be passionate witnesses for Christ to two distinct sets of people, namely Transcarpathian-Hungarian speakers and those who would call themselves Ukrainian-Russian speakers.
Students at the camp ranged in age from 12 to 25 years, coming from different areas and backgrounds throughout the region.
Reflecting on a typical day there, Cloughmills native Anne, said: “Mornings consisted of devotions and small group discussions with the young people. Our focus was on the Parables and how these were relevant to their modern, everyday lives. This was followed by two sessions of conversational English, before and after lunch, followed by an afternoon full of crafts and sports.
Evenings started with light-hearted team games culminating in a sing-song around the campfire, which really inspired the visiting team.
Colin said: “To hear the students singing hymns and songs in Hungarian, which we knew the English for, was absolutely amazing - a real highlight of the day. The students stayed up until 2am or 3am talking to Gyuri, a Church Pastor in Transcarpathia who also works with KRIS, the local Christian Organisation which facilitated the camp.”
Each member of the visiting team felt that it was vitally important to offer support, help and guidance to the young people on issues relevant to them.
However, what really impressed the Presbyterian team was the strength of some of the Ukrainian youth’s Christian faith.
Anne said: “They were very enthusiastic during the discussions about the Bible. Although it had to be translated for us, their Biblical knowledge was very, very good.
“Two of our team, James Arthur from Templepatrick and Carol Dalzell from Woodvale Presbyterian, had visited Ukraine a number of times and were old hands, but nothing prepares you for the enthusiasm those young people had for their Christian faith and commitment. It was very rewarding for us and we know the rest of our team felt this as well.”
Colin added: “We learned so much from the people of a country that is so politically and economically unstable. The kindness and generosity of people there was unbelievable and very humbling.”