10,000 Reasons– 2014 BFC

August 5, 2014

BFC 2014

Every year as we begin planning for the next Baltic Family Camp (BFC), I always have a moment or two of doubts. These doubts are not God-centered; they are self-centered. Is it worth all of the effort? Can we bring it all together again? Will families and individuals in the Baltic region of Europe still want to attend and participate? These moments are fleeting, but still real. Then we arrive at Camp Ruta in Molatai, Lithuania and enjoy a grand reunion with old friends and welcome new ones. I just silently say to myself–O ye of little faith!

The 2014 edition of the BFC gave me 10,000 reasons why this ministry effort is indeed worth every investment into it. It was a pure joy to be there together with brothers and sisters in Christ from the countries of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Russia, Germany, Sweden, England, and yes, this year–India (for a total of 96 people). The BFC truly illustrates that God’s kingdom knows no boundaries and that our bond in Christ Jesus is stronger than any nationality.

One of the main purposes of the BFC is to offer missionary families in that part of Europe the chance for rest and refreshment. We welcomed Mark and Karen Abercrombie (Liepzig, Germany); Ilia and Daiva Amosov and Juozas and Zivile Puodziukatis and family (Vilnius, Lithuania); Kestutis Puodziunas (Klaipeda, Lithuania); Joel and Yana Petty and family and Oleg and Natasha Yakimenko and family (St. Petersburg, Russia); George and Gabreille Opoku and family (Stockholm, Sweden); Jerry and Trina Ross and family (Tartu, Estonia); and Victor Barviks (Riga, Latvia) to the camp this session.

Bap AtileIn addition we welcomed Christian families and individuals from across this region as we studied, fellowshipped, played, and worshipped together. Thirteen year old, Atile, who is one of the daughters of a faithful family from Kaunas, Lithuania was baptized into Christ by her dad. The church in this city–the second largest in Lithuania–meets in the home of her parents, Gediminus and Indre Ileviciene.

Did I mention we had a brother from India this year? His name is Chorlian Samsom Karumanchi. He came via the church in Tallinn, Estonia. Sansom’s father is a preacher in India and his family operates the Sathupally Children’s Home. The¬†small church in Tallinn has partnered with them and made this orphanage a mission point for their church.

We had an incredible American team (most being from the Levy church in North Little Rock, AR but also this year from Clinton, MS, Plano, TX, Gueydan, LA and Leoma, TN) who served in various ways throughout the week including Richard and Jeanna Lynn May. They took their What God Has Joined marriage ministry on the road to Camp Ruta. This type of Christian-based ministry to married couples is greatly needed in the Baltics.

Our theme this year was inspired by the song, 10,000 Reasons. We did discover  through our time together many reasons to bless the Lord and many more reasons why God is doing an amazing work with the Baltic Family Camp.

No doubt about it.

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Baltic Family Camp 2014

June 17, 2014

BFC image 14Christians from all over central Europe will be gathering (God willing) at a former Soviet pioneer camp in southeastern Lithuania on the dates of July 28-August 2. Camp Ruta near the Lithuanian village of Molatai will host the third annual Baltic Family Camp (BFC). Our theme for the session is “10,000 Reasons’ and people from Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Russia, Germany, Sweden, England, Lithuania and the United States will spend this week in study, praise, fellowship, and fun.

The concept of the BFC is to provide missionaries, Christian families and individuals an opportunity to rest, relax, and refresh together in the Lord. The churches represented by those who attend the BFC are small and separated by hundreds of miles. The BFC has helped to create a sense of brotherhood among them–connecting them with a network of believers who now interact all throughout the year. It has been a joy and a blessing to witness!

The BFC has two separate daily schedules–one for the children who attend with their family and another for the adults. Bible classes and marriage enrichment classes are offered daily for adults while the kids follow a typical camp-type schedule: Bible classes; sports, games, and activities; as well as arts and crafts. The highlight of each evening is our worship together.

God just continues to bless this effort and each year the camp has grown. I solicit your prayers as we journey over very soon. As camps go–this is one of the best in which I have ever been involved.

And just to keep in step with the pattern of this blog–here are five reasons why!

  • I love Lithuania. I have been working in this country since 1996 including two years as a resident missionary in the capital city of Vilnius. It is a lovely little country with great people.
  • The fellowship. It is wonderful to witness the bond that the BFC has created among the diverse people who participate. I rejoice when I hear of the connections that grow between these Christians. They live so far apart and their churches are small and resources limited. The BFC has provided for them a sense of brotherhood that we often take for granted.
  • The people. Of course! I get to renew many older relationships and establish new ones. We may speak different languages but we are one in Christ Jesus!
  • The weather. How about highs in the upper 70s to lower 80s and lows in the 50s at night–in July and August?
  • The food! Yes, I love me some Lithuanian blynai (better known to us as pancakes). I do not lose weight at camp, I usually gain it! ūüôā

May God bless our efforts in the BFC in 2014!

 


2013 Baltic Family Camp

July 24, 2013

Slide1

Next week (July 29-August 3), Christians from the countries of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Germany and the USA will gather at Camp Ruta in Moletai, Lithuania for a week of worship, fellowship, study, strengthening, prayer, fun and games. Including kids there is a total of about 90 scheduled to participate in our second such camp.

What a blessing it is to be involved in this ministry which brings together folks from the scattered churches of Christ in this region. This year’s theme is “Here I Am to Worship.”

Join me in praying for a week of God’s blessings!

P.S. For pics from this camp click here.


Baltic Family Camp: “We Are One”

August 8, 2012

July 29 through August 4 was an amazing week to be at Camp Ruta in Moletai, Lithuania. God brought together 71 people ages one to seventy-one from the countries of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Germany, USA, Canada, Holland, and England for the first Baltic Family Camp. We were there to celebrate being one in Christ Jesus and to become better aware of the ministries of the Churches of Christ in this region.

To say that God worked through this camp ministry to exceed all expectations is an understatement. It was such a joy to witness wonderful fellowship break out among the participants– all coming from different areas but sharing a common bond in Jesus. This camp which had been a dream among a few of us for years helped the Christians in the small churches in this part of Europe realize that they were not alone.

One of the strengths of the camp was the incredible and in-depth teaching done by folks like Mark Abercrombie, a missionary from Leipzig, Germany who taught a class focused on the¬†challenges¬†of mission work; or Alan and Sherry Pogue of North Little Rock who as¬†licensed professional Christian counselors shared with couples what God desires in their¬†family; or from Joey and Melanie Griffin of Dallas who work for Eastern European Missions and taught the younger people at camp about how they could make a difference in their churches and communities.¬† Other teachers in the daily men’s and women’s class equally challenged their students.

The kid’s day camp led by Scott Jordan of Pensacola, FL and Andy and Lisa Gibson of North Little Rock also offered the children attending a delightful mixture of Bible instruction; fun and games; arts and crafts; and learning activities. What a joy it was for me to have my family there and to see other families enjoying this week together.

Another blessing was our evening worship. Someone from each country had the chance to lead our worship thought each night. Hearing the songs sung in the different languages simultaneously was incredibly powerful and moving.

The churches in this region are all small and scattered. The purpose of this camp ministry was to offer them a place to come together as one; become better¬†acquainted¬†with each other; learn from one another; and find encouragement in that fellowship. By God’s grace, I think this was accomplished.

Please keep your brothers and sisters in the Baltic area in your prayers. They are faithfully serving the Lord and striving to share his message to their cities.

For more info and many photos of the week visit the BFC Facebook page.


Camp Ruta 2011

July 7, 2011
Once again God blessed us with an outstanding week of Lithuania Christian Camp at Camp Ruta, near Moletai, Lithuania. Almost 70 children enjoyed the little kids week (ages 7-13). Our theme was Step by Step and together with the local and American counselors from Gateway Church of Christ -we all grew closer to God. Many people in both countries are to be thanked for making this session happen.

This is the thirteenth summer for Lithuania Christian Camp. The evidence of the power of this ministry was all around us during June 27-July 2 as most of the Lithuanian counselors had first been campers in years past. As we listened to the current campers speak on Saturday night of how meaningful the camp was to them in bringing God into their lives, it is not difficult to imagine some of them becoming Christians and Christian counselors in the future.

Of course the camp ministry is an extension of the work of the Vilnius Church of Christ (for many more photos go to their facebook page here). Your continued support, prayers for this body and for the camp ministry is always appreciated.

Here are some photos and a wonderful video put together by those in the Vilnius church:

Bible Class

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Morning Blast

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

smiles

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Crafts

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Hugs

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Chariot races

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Saying Goodbye

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Marriage Ministry Mission in Vilnius

April 26, 2011

Richard and Jeanna Lynn May recently completed a two-week marriage ministry mission trip to Vilnius, Lithuania through What God Has Joined ministry. From all reports it was an incredible success. Both of the Vilnius evangelists, Ilia Amosov and Juozas Puodziukaitis rave about their work and the lasting positive affects on everyone who attended the seminars and personal coaching sessions. Here is what Richard and Jeanna Lynn said about the trip:

We returned from our two week trip to Vilnius Lithuania on April 17.  The mission was a super success!  We offered 12 hours of seminar and coached between 50-60 hours.  The ministers of VKB and their families were warm and appreciative.  We continue to hear exciting news and positive reports regarding the Marriage Mission.  We have written a full report of our trip and will send it out soon and post it on the website. 

We thank God for Richard and Jeanna Lynn! Their work was an answer to many prayers and hopefully the beginning of a lasting ministry presence in this country for years to come!

* For more pics please click here and for a complete report on their mission trip click here.


FYI

March 7, 2011

All kinds of compelling mission, ministries and other kingdom work happening right now. Here are a few links,  events and thoughts you might be interested in.

I’ll start with news about the Lithuanian mission ministry (Thanks to my friends at the Christian Chronicle for giving us a shout out in the latest issue).

  • The little kids session of Lithuania Christian Camp will return, God willing, in the summer of 2011! Last year this ministry was reduced to just one session but because of the generosity of many the younger session (for kids 8-12) will return on June 27-July 3. If you are interested in learning more about the camp go here or here. For more about the little kids session go here, here¬†and here.
  • Speaking of Lithuania missions-¬†We are excited about an upcoming April trip which God has made possible for Richard and Jeanna Lynn May. Through their marriage ministry- What God Has Joined– they will be blessing couples and families in Vilnius and beyond by offering marriage coaching for couples and seminars for everyone.¬† This is a greatly needed ministry focus there. Please pray for them.

Other news:

  • Our friends at Harding University in Searcy, Arkansas have been dealing with some unwanted publicity from hostile media sources as a result of decisions made about a web zine published by current and former gay students.¬† It seems to me that the university acted in a manner consistent to its published student handbook and explained¬† themselves accordingly. Some of the reports I read from various media sources were simply unfair in comparing HU to Westboro Baptist Church.¬†
  • The USA Today¬†reports that a larger percentage of¬†teens and young adults are virgins than in the past.¬† This-¬†from a Christian ethic perspective- is a good trend.
  • I recently discovered a great blog for preachers and church leaders.¬† It is by Dan Bouchelle- Confessions of a Former Preacher. Go check it out sometime.
  • I am looking forward to soon¬†going and participating in Elderlink in Atlanta.
  • Another great annual event among Churches of Christ is the Tulsa Workshop. You can check out its schedule here.

Have a great week serving our amazing God!