My most unforgettable experience as an agent of faith in God:
A Camp to Remember
When I accepted an invitation from Nikolai Ryzhuk (a pastor in the country of Belarus) to help with children's camps in the summer of 2014 in Belarus, I had no idea how big the obstacles would be. Neither did I foresee how great the blessings would be.
The first hurdle was obtaining a visa for Belarus. The process would be simpler for a tourist on a guided tour. Obtaining a private visa proved trickier, but the Lord provided.
The next barrier rose at JFK Airport: “Where’s your visa for Moscow?” the agent at check-in asked.
“I don’t need a visa for Moscow. I’m not leaving the airport, only changing planes.”
“The country of Belarus requires that Americans flying in from Moscow have a transit visa for Moscow.”
I was stunned. I’ve flown through Moscow to both Ukraine and Central Asia. I’d never encountered such a requirement.
With no time to spare, I paid $193 to switch my final destination from Minsk to Kiev, Ukraine. Next, working off my iPhone, I reserved a connecting flight from Kiev to Minsk. Successful, I praised the Lord and boarded my plane.
In Belarus, brethren invited me to be one of several speakers at youth camp. There, 12 young adults accepted Christ as Savior! Hallelujah!
|Preaching in the assembly hall|
The following week, the director of children’s camp asked me to be their evening preacher every day.
Perhaps it was my American accent. Perhaps it was because they’d never heard an American preacher before. Whatever the reason, the children listened carefully.
On the final night, even before I finished my invitation to place faith in Christ, two girls hurried to the platform. A third girl followed.
“Is there anyone else?”
In all, 7 other children walked forward, several with tears.
After a few words, I handed the microphone to the first child. One by one, they poured out prayers of repentance. I prayed last, thanking the Lord. That was amazing enough, but the Lord wasn't finished!
As campers and staff exited to the cafeteria for a bedtime snack, a counselor said, “Another boy wants to repent.” Eleven! Right there, he and I prayed together. Before I left the auditorium, another child came to get saved.
|"Can I get a picture with you?"|
After snack time, I started back to the dorm. My feet barely touched the ground!
As darkness deepened, a teen girl named Alexandra led two friends to me. They didn’t want to go to bed without accepting Jesus!
By the time I reached the entrance to the boys’ dorm, 20 children had asked the Lord to save them. Pastor Nikolai and I swatted mosquitoes while rejoicing at the Lord’s marvelous working.
Unexpectedly, a counselor named Inna appeared. “Rick, please come to the girls’ wing. Room 42!” She disappeared.
What was happening?
When I arrived, Inna ushered me in. A teen girl sat on her bed in tears. She was overcome with the weight of her sin and wanted to get saved. However, on the other side of the room, another girl faced the
wall and wept. She understood she needed salvation, but sin gripped
her. I talked with the first girl while Inna spoke with the second, urging her
to accept Christ. Within a couple minutes, the four of us were bowing before the
Lord. That made 22!
|Comforting a tyke with a hurt foot.|
As I slipped out and started down the corridor, my heart swelled with joy.
Then a door that had been ajar opened. A girl of 11 or 12 said, “Come to us, too.”
I hesitated. I’d never been in the girls’ wing, and Lights Out was only minutes away. I glanced at the woman counselor. She smiled and nodded.
Inside were five girls wearing pajamas. The one who invited me said, “I’ve already accepted Jesus, but these three haven’t.”
After I made sure the three understood salvation, we formed a circle, and all prayed—including the little lady who had witnessed to her friends. Beaming smiles, the girls thanked me and clambered into bed as I headed for the door.
In all, no fewer than 25 souls came to Christ that evening!
Of course, the entire staff contributed to that harvest. All prayed. Many led Bible lessons. One directed a condensed stage play of Pilgrim’s Progress, which children acted out every day.
At first, the obstacles had seemed large, but God’s blessings proved even larger!
“So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:7).