Darina was an outgoing engineering student at a technical university in Kyiv, Ukraine, when we met her six years ago.
She was applying for one of our English camps, which we offer every summer. Darina just wanted to improve her English and have fun at the camp—which she did—but she didn’t get involved in any of our follow-up activities, and we thought she wasn’t really interested in God.
When Darina applied for camp again the next year, we turned her down, choosing to invite new people who might be more open to the Gospel. She was upset, and we thought we’d never see her again.
But a couple of years later, God brought Darina back. She joined one of our weekly English clubs, and God began to work on her heart. We saw spiritual progress and a greater openness to God, so we invited Darina to camp again in 2013. That’s when she really understood the Gospel and made a decision to follow Jesus.
Darina remembers sitting at the evening meeting near the end of camp week, listening to a Gospel presentation—and when it came time to pray, she found herself repeating the prayer without realizing it. When she caught herself praying, she didn’t stop; she just knew it was right.
Since that day, Darina has been growing dramatically.
She’ll sit for hours talking about the Bible and her spiritual questions, and she’s gotten involved in two of our weekly life groups (small group Bible studies), providing key organizational leadership. She has a spiritual gift for pastoring and regularly checks in with various group members to provide spiritual support.
Darina is also active in helping newer believers grow spiritually and has discipled at least three other girls who were saved through camp. She’s what we call an active encourager in this ministry, committed to growing herself spiritually, as well as helping others grow.
It’s a goal of our ministry here in Kyiv to see God raise up many more Ukrainian young people like Darina to become followers of Jesus who want to partner with him in making more disciples. We’re pleased with the progress so far, but we know there is much more God wants to do.
Like Darina, many of the people in our life groups have been saved through our two summer English camps. The camps are a great way for pre-Christian Ukrainians to experience the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit over a multi-day period, which allows God to soften their hearts to his Good News.
Team members from North America, the United Kingdom, New Zealand, and Australia volunteer just to love Ukrainians and to help them practice English with native English speakers, but God also uses them to display and share the love of Jesus.
Most Ukrainians say that at the end of camp their English has dramatically improved, but most also say that they receive much more than English language skills. Some, like Darina, even make decisions to follow God.
If you would like to partner with us in reaching out to Ukrainian young people, pray about joining one of our summer 2017 teams. You also can join our daily or weekly prayer team, or you can help sponsor a Ukrainian to attend the camp. For more information on how to give, visit https://onemissionsociety.org/give/Ukraine-English-Ministries.
By Randy Marshall, OMS Missionary and Ukraine Field Leader