In 2008, Radooga Ministries decided to expand their successful camp ministry for teens in Ukraine to reach out to the orphan community. There are over 100,000 orphans in Ukraine. Radooga sent their first team of Americans from Servant Life and Ukrainians to an orphan camp outside Kharkov, Ukraine in the summer of 2008. That first year proved to be a challenging experience as the team was met with aggressive children and teens, suspicious of the team’s motives, and hesitant to participate.
Radooga’s ministry remained faithful through the years, returning year after year to that same camp in Kharkov, ministering to that same group of children and teams in partnership with Servant Life. Summer 2013 was Radooga’s 6th consecutive camp there! Over the past few years, Radooga has developed a relationship with a local church in Kharkov, Ukraine who has partnered with American teams to serve the kids. Many Americans have returned year after year to Kharkov and because of this established trust with the orphans, the local church was welcomed and accepted by the kids. Over the past year and half, the progress within this group of orphans has been significant. As the orphans age out of their school, many have now chosen to begin attending and serving in the church rather than turn to a life on the street as most orphans statistically do. Five former orphans returned this past summer to camp to serve as church staff, ministering to orphans as former orphans! Imagine the joy of youth minister John McCants who brought his first team from Covington, LA to the first orphan camp in 2008 and now could see the fruit of this ministry.
While progress with the orphans is remarkable, another result has been the growth of the Ukrainian church’s youth ministry after serving together at orphan camp. After their first summer serving at orphan camp, their own lives were changed. One church member says, “Orphan camp at first changed us…and then as a result of that, the orphans’ lives were changed.” Their teens and young adults are now more united than ever, their relationships are growing amongst each other, and they are serving alongside one another in the church. These exciting things happening in the church are a result of Servant Life sending teams year after year to the orphan camp in Kharkov. Many times over the years, Americans and Ukrainians serving in orphan camp asked, “Why?” Why do we keep going back? What lasting effects will this one week of camp have? What a blessing to see the fruits of the Lord’s work with our very own eyes!
– Oleg Vasilevsky, President and Founder of Radooga in Ukraine