I can almost guarantee you that about 96% of all current missionary newsletters start with this sentence: "Well, the summer is over…".
This one is not going to be different. Because it's true, summer indeed came to an end and it's time to reflect on some of the highlights of Mission Adventures season.
As Ma Russia we believe that one day our nation will no longer be labeled as a "receiving" one. We know that God is able to rise up a new tribe in Russia- young people that obey His command "to GO".
However in the meantime, in this part of the world it's not very easy to find participants for programs like MA. Year after year our numbers are consistently low, but we have learned that numbers are not important.
How's that? Well, great question, thanks for asking. See, because while we have had relatively small number of participants, we have been able to develop strong relationships with them and impact them individually. As a result, there is a high percentage of them that gets involved in some kind of ministry at their local church, or ends up doing a DTS (Discipleship Training School).
This year we had two completely different programs in two different nations.
First, we partnered with a different organization called Youth For Christ. Every year YFC host different outreaches in ST.Petersburg area and one thing they've noticed is that people that facilitate these outreaches definitely needed more training. Well, this is what Mission Adventures is all about!
At the end of June, 16 participants arrived at our campground.
We had a blast with them. This was one of the best weeks we've ever had. It was the first time we've been able to host a Baptist group and we LOVED this team!! In the past the Baptist church has been hesitant to participate in MA but it looks like we've broken through a barrier and the church as a whole seems to be excited for more teams next year! The break through came when our team left for their outreach. One of the places they went was to a Baptist youth conference of about 200 people. They performed their program and shared their testimonies and blew everyone away. Everyone there was so impressed that they started asking questions about how to join for next year!! It was great walking away from our time with them and feeling like we had truly accomplished something great.
We were also excited about Phase Two of MA where we were going to Latvia with the goal to help launch MA there. We were supposed to have a team of 8 with a mixture of both Latvians and Russians. We bought our tickets, jumped on the train and were off!!……….Only to arrive and find out that there were no Latvians that would be joining us. Meaning, we had 3 Russian girls we were expecting in 3 days time. Who had paid for visas, transportation, the program, etc. Needless to say, it was a blow for us and our first thoughts were,
"Do we cancel? "
We knew that canceling wasn't an option, but we also knew that our original program and plan was not going to work. So, (little pat on our backs) in 3 days we came up with a completely different program and developed something specifically for these girls that were coming. With so few participants it also meant that we, as a staff, also became participants with them. Part of our 'tour' in Latvia was going to a home for people with down syndrome of all ages, visiting a center for street kids, an elderly home,working on a FARM!, etc. Our time in Latvia was AMAZING! We, as a staff, were stretched and challenged. And all three of the girls are taking next steps in pursuing missions more seriously! One just left for Georgia (the country folks, not the state!;) And the other two want to do a DTS. AND the Latvian YWAM base is more seriously pursuing doing MA themselves next year.
So even though there was some unexpected turns, MA this year seems to have been a great success!! The difficulties we have each year in encouraging church youth groups to participate, has been disheartening. But once again, we have been encouraged to keep focused and plugging along, no matter what our numbers are. We have seen time and time again that God can take that few and do great, great things. It's our job to just be faithful with what we've been given.
Thank you for all of you who believe in us and pray for us along the way. We never take your support for granted.