Intro and History
Servant Life partners with a unique ministry in Ukraine driven by the vision to strengthen the church through camps. Their staff work toward this goal by presenting youth summer camps and equipping other people for the same task.
The cherished dream of many Ukrainian people – an independent Ukraine – came to pass in 1991, right after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But as it turned out, independence itself did not guarantee a future many had hoped for. People now faced the problems associated with a transitional economy and a corrupted government. They learned it takes so much more than an abrupt change in the regime to bring about positive and long-lasting changes in the lives of people.
Christians of Ukraine, whose numbers have tremendously grown in the past 10 years, know that the One who has a future for the nation is Jesus Christ. As an active part of the community of believers, our mission partner strives to bring Ukraine to Christ and invest in her future by reaching the young generation.
They did their first camp in 1994 and as the camps grew in quantity and popularity, it became obvious what a powerful evangelistic and discipleship tool the camping ministry was. God let the ministry grow from one-time summer projects to a year-round operating organization that came to existence in 1998.
Besides camps, they also started conducting training programs for future camp directors. Our mission partners felt called to share their resources and expertise in running camps with potential camp directors and in that way reach more people for Christ.
At the same time, more summer camp programs were being developed to meet the needs of youth from different backgrounds. One of these programs was an English-language camp designed to use English and cross-cultural experiences as a means to bring the Good News to Ukrainian non-Christian students. These camps proved to be very effective and became the focus of their camp activities.
The Servant Life partnership with them in doing camps, training, and internships started in 1999. It stimulated their rapid growth and brought the ministry to a higher level of performance.
Feeling the burden on their hearts for their country and knowing a way to make a difference there, our mission partner is determined to continue creating such a camp environment where people can meet God or experience His presence more intimately. They are currently expanding their program and worship departments that help to engage creativity in communicating the Gospel to students and lead them in a quality time of worship. One of their long-term goals is to identify strong regional networks of churches and to establish regional offices in those areas, providing churches with consistent help in recreational activities and strengthening their youth groups through camps.
What will my team be doing? You will be working alongside our mission partner's summer camp, specifically English/JAMM Camp or Orphan Camp. The different weeks are labeled below. You will join the staff in sharing the gospel, playing games, worshipping through song, and other similar activities. At English/JAMM Camp, as the name suggests, you will have the chance to help Ukrainian children learn English during their time at camp, as well as, spend time leading or helping facilitate "Master" classes such as, business, show biz and art.
What does my cost include?
• In-country transportation
• Supplemental Traveler's Insurance
• Pre-Trip Training Manual
• Pre, During, and Post-trip Devotionals
Airfare is not included in this cost, but Servant Life does offer to book all airfare reservations.
The western portion of Ukraine is predominantly Catholic, and the eastern half of the country adheres to the Orthodox faith.
About 70% of the words of the Russian and Ukrainian languages are the same.
Kiev's Independence Square is the location for the Ukrainian version of Speakers' Corner in London's Hyde Park.
Kiev boasts the world's deepest subway. It doubles as a fallout shelter.
Ukraine's flag, a horizontal stripe of light blue set above a stripe of wheat yellow, symbolizes the richness of its agriculture under an endless sky.
Like most Slavs, Ukrainians use a patronymic (modification of their father's first name) as their middle name, and use first and middle names in all situations. A male named Oleksandr, with a father named Volodymyr, is called Oleksandr Volodymyrovytch. In formal conversation, he would be addressed not with a title such as Mr., but by calling him Oleksandr Volodymyrovytch.
Kiev is one of the oldest Slavic cities, situated at an ancient trade crossroads. Set on the right bank of the Dnieper, Kiev has a Western European atmosphere and merits at least a two-night stay. We suggest beginning a tour with the view from atop Volodymyr Hill, followed by a walk along scenic Khreshchatyk, the main street with fine shops, restaurants, a large market and large supermarkets selling such imported luxuries as lobster and French cheeses. Look for the gilt-covered Golden Gate, a triumphal arch built by Yaroslav the Wise in the 10th century.
Although it is the political capital of Ukraine, Kiev is perhaps more important as a magnificent monument to the Russian Orthodox church. The city has seen many churches and monasteries built since AD 988, when the Byzantine wife of Kiev's ruler introduced Christianity to the region. The chief religious site in town is the golden-domed St. Sophia Cathedral. The 11th-century structure is actually an enormous complex that includes a cathedral, seminaries, a bell tower and the metropolitan's residence (a metropolitan is the Orthodox equivalent of a Roman Catholic cardinal). All have beautiful Byzantine architecture, with onion domes and mosaics. Along the right bank of the Dnieper River is the Pecherska Lavra Monastery (Monastery of the Caves) and its associated catacombs. Inside are two antiques shops, a folk-art museum and displays from the monastery's treasury. Other notable holy places in Kiev include the Cathedral of St. Volodymyr, Vydubichy Monastery and St. Andrew's Church, which was designed by Rastrelli, builder of the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia.
As in any large city, travelers should be on their guard against crimes of opportunity, particularly petty theft on public transportation. Always carry a good copy of your passport with you at all times.
For the latest information, contact your country's travel-advisory agency.
Generally speaking, medical care is adequate but limited. Most larger cities have hospitals, and Kiev also has a branch of the international American Medical Centers, a well-equipped clinic staffed by AMA-certified doctors that can deal with outpatient care and emergencies. In smaller cities, however, many basic supplies and medications are scarce. Visitors who need specific prescription medicines and/or disposable syringes should take their own supply. The smog in some cities may be a hazard for some visitors.
There have been a few cases of typhoid in rural parts of the country and tuberculosis in some parts of the east. Boosters for hepatitis and diphtheria are also recommended. Consult your physician for precautionary measures. Do not drink the tap water: Stick with boiled or prepackaged drinks.
For more information, contact your country's health-advisory agency.
Do's and Don'ts
Don't use the old way of referring to the country as "the Ukraine." The definite article implies that it is still a province of Russia, and the name alone means it's independent.
Do learn a few words of Ukrainian and Russian. (You'll find the phrases "Hello" and "To your health" are indispensable in both languages.).
Do be prepared to remove your shoes if you're invited to someone's home (you will usually be furnished with slippers).
Do take toilet paper and a universal bathtub stopper (the round, flat type) if you're traveling in rural areas.
Official Name: Ukraine
Passport/Visa Requirements: All U.S. citizens need a passport, valid for six months after the intended date of departure.
Reconfirm travel document requirements with your carrier before departure.
Languages: Ukrainian, Russian.
Predominant Religions: Christian (Ukrainian Orthodox, Roman Catholic).
Time Zone: 2 hours ahead of Greenwich Mean Time (+2 GMT). Daylight Saving Time is observed from the last Sunday in March to the last Sunday in October.
Voltage Requirements: 220 volts.
Telephone Codes: 380, country code; 44, city code for Kiev; 48, city code for Odessa.
The country has three vegetation zones: mixed forests in the north; beech, silver birch and oak forests in the center; and black-soil steppes in the south. The main rivers are the Dnieper, which runs from north to south in the center of the country, and the Dniester, which forms part of the western border. The famed Danube River crosses a small corner of the country south of Odessa and empties into the Black Sea, as do the Dnieper and the Dniester. The Crimean peninsula, which juts into the Black Sea, has beaches and a Mediterranean climate.
Paying for your purchases in Ukraine can get complicated. These days, it's a cash-and-carry economy, and your traveler's checks and credit cards, especially American Express and Diner's Club, may not be accepted everywhere. There are many banks in larger cities that can cash traveler's checks (you must show your passport to do so), and ATMs can be found in all major cities and in most smaller ones with populations of 200,000 or more. (Only use ATMs that are in well-lit areas and display a wide range of international banking symbols on the front. If your card is not returned, contact the bank whose machine you've used immediately).
For a good exchange rate, compare rates at the exchange kiosks on the street.
The Ukrainian hryvnia is the sole legal currency in Ukraine. At major restaurants in larger cities you may ask the staff to change your foreign currency for you before paying for your meal in hryvnias. Dollars or euros are only acceptable as payment for large-ticket items such as airline tickets and luxury items, including automobiles and jewelry.
Do be aware that if you choose to change money with or buy from black marketeers you're engaging in an illegal activity. You also run a significant risk of being cheated or robbed.
Currency Exchange Rates
In general, the best time to visit is May-September, when the days temperatures are 50s-70s F/11-25 C. Spring and early fall, however, are unpredictable; snow flurries and low temperatures in the 30s F/0-10 C are possible as late as May and as early as September. Layers and warm clothing is certainly a necessity during the cold months, and layers with a light jacket are wise for the warmer months.
Servant Life will take care of all of your in-country travel arrangements.
Servant Life has missions opportunities in Cuba, El Salvador, Ukraine, Bulgaria, Uganda, Kenya, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Haiti, United Kingdom, East Asia, Dominican Republic, Houston, Dallas, New York City, Memphis, St. Louis, Montreal, and Toronto Canada.
Who Can Go
If registering and traveling with their church group, students must be 14 years old or older to participate in a Servant Life missions experience. If registering as an individual participant without an adult, students must be 16 years old or older. Student groups, college groups, adults, and individuals are all welcome on Servant Life mission trips. Teams may be made up of groups and/or individuals.
Servant Life trips are priced at a BASE COST PLUS AIRFARE. The base cost varies per country and can be found by clicking on the link for a trip.
Servant Life will book all airfare through our travel agency. Everyone on your team must travel together. We book group airline tickets and cannot accommodate special requests for different individual flights. Due to commitments to our missionaries to have groups there on set dates, trip dates are not flexible. Once a ticket has been purchased in your name, it must be paid for regardless of circumstances. All tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable.
Servant Life works with missionary partners in each country. Your team will be helping our missionary partner with various needs, and exact details may vary from trip to trip. Specific details for each missions experience can be found by clicking on the trip's link.
We encourage anyone interested in a Servant Life missions experience to go ahead and apply for a passport. The amount of time it takes to get a passport varies, and we cannot book plane tickets without a copy of each person’s passport. Any costs associated with obtaining a passport are solely your responsibility. You can download a passport application and read instructions on obtaining a passport online at www.travel.state.gov/passport.
Immunizations and any costs related to them are the sole responsibility of the trip participant. All childhood immunizations must be complete (measles, mumps, rubella, polio, diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus). We also HIGHLY advise any immunizations recommended by your physician and/or the CDC for the area of travel. Both Hepatitis A and Hepatitis B are strongly recommended for all international travel. It is solely the traveler’s responsibility to obtain information on required/recommended travel immunizations and travel precautions for the area. The CDC website is www.cdc.gov and has up-to-date info on immunizations for every country.
Once You Register
Shortly after you register, you will receive an email from the Servant Life team with forms your group needs to fill out. These forms, along with a deposit of $250 per person, are due by November 1. If you register after November 1, the forms and a deposit of $250 per person are due within 30 days of registering. A registration is not complete until we have received your deposit. Registrations cannot be held beyond 30 days if the deposit has not been received.
Will my child serve alone or as part of a team?
Your child will be part of a Servant Life team, which can be made up of groups and/or individual participants. If your child is registering alone, he or she will join the team at a domestic or international airport, and stay and work with them for the remainder of the trip.
What kind of supervision will my child have?
Servant Life teams are led by our in-country ministry partners. This partner serves as the host and leader for the team from the time they land in-country at the airport until they depart at the end of the mission experience.
How safe are these trips?
Servant Life makes every effort to keep your child safe during their entire experience with us. We visit every location before sending a group, and work with partners in the country who are familiar with the area we will be staying in and working in. We research and plan the safest places for your student to eat, stay, work and play.
Who will the teams work with?
All teams work with established Servant Life ministry partners. These are either missionaries or ministry leaders who have a history of service in the country and programs that fit with the mission of Servant Life. To read more about our ministry partners, click here.
Who do I call in case of emergency while my child is traveling?
All Servant Life participants will be given a list with emergency contact information and numbers. This list includes the contact information for Servant Life, as well as our ministry partner serving on the field with your child. If an emergency arises where you need to reach your child, please contact Servant Life first, and we will work closely with you to reach your child.
Will my child be able to call home and email while on the field?
Access to phone calls and email may be limited, and varies from location to location. As your child's trip approaches, more information will be given on phone and internet availability for that specific trip. In the event of an emergency, Servant Life will contact parents immediately. So remember that no news is good news!
We have a frequent flyer program. Can we use those miles to cover my child's ticket?
Possibly. We cannot guarantee which airline each team will use, as we are watching for competitive pricing and schedules. Please contact Servant Life if you are interested in learning more about using frequent flyer miles on a mission trip.
When should my child apply for a passport?
Your child should apply for a passport immediately after registering for a Servant Life mission trip. Passports can take up to 8 weeks to arrive. Costs related to obtaining a passport are the responsibility of the participant.
Is a visa required for my child's trip?
The only country that Servant Life is currently sending teams to needing visas is Kenya. Visas can be obtained prior to leaving or when arriving in country. Specifics will be provided to team leaders and/or students traveing on their own.
Will my child receive any training?
Servant Life will send a preparation manual filled with detailed information regarding your child's mission trip. Hands-on training will take place with the ministry partner once the team arrives at their destination.
Why should my child go serve over seas when there are so many needs here in the United States?
The first and primary reason we believe in sending teams on international mission trips is that God has commanded His followers to make disciples of ALL nations (Matt 28:19). Knowing that we are commanded to play an active role in global disciple-making, we have found that missionaries and ministries around the world have needs that short-term mission teams can easily and uniquely fill, thus helping to advance the kingdom of God in those countries. We also hope that participating in an international mission trip will leave such an impression on your child's life that they will become supporters of mission work for the rest of their lives, whether through prayer, financial support, church leadership, or even life service.
What is not covered in my child's trip cost?
The only expenses not covered in your child's trip cost are meals in airports on travel days, any souvenirs or snacks that your child may wish to purchase while in country, and any expenses related to obtaining a passport and immunizations.
Are there scholarships available for my child?
Servant Life does not offer scholarships. If needed, we encourage participants to raise support through fundraising efforts such as church partnership and personal support letters.
Servant Life is committed to providing a quality mission experience at the lowest possible price. Our goal is not to entertain, but rather to bring the teachings of Scripture to life.
The cost of the mission experience includes in-country costs, such as:
- In-country transportation
- Supplemental Traveler's Insurance
- Sponsoring local students to attend camp
- Pre-Trip Training Manual
- Visa, if applicable
- Exit tax, if applicable
Costs not covered in base cost of the trip include:
- Immunization Shots
- Personal expenses while traveling and in-country, including meals in airports
- Any additional costs associated with the trip before you arrive and after you leave
Deposits of $250 per person and a copy of the front page of your passport are due November 1. If you register after November 1, a deposit of $250 per person and a copy of the front page of your passport are due within 30 days of registration.
Deposits are non-refundable.
Servant Life will secure all airline transportation through our travel agent to insure teams arrive together. Once your group is in place, let us know as soon as possible so we can secure your tickets at the lowest possible rate.
You are responsible for the payment of any purchased tickets. Once a ticket is purchased, payment for that ticket must be in our office within 5 business days.
All tickets must be secured and paid in full 60 days before departure. Payments for airfare must be made via check. We cannot accept credit card payments for airfare purchases.
Summer Missions Payments:
The first payment, which is half of the base cost, is due March 1.
The second payment, which is the balance of the trip cost, is due in the Servant Life office no later than 35 days before departure. If your final balance is not received by 35 days out, a $100 late fee may be applied.
PLEASE NOTE: All checks and money orders must be made out to SERVANT LIFE. Please mail all payments and donations to PO Box 36307, Birmingham, AL 35236.