Archive for August, 2008

I believe that what we’ve been doing in the community (Mine 12/18) here in Donetsk is making a positive impact in the young children who live there, which in turn gives them hope for a better future. We just have to continue doing good for their benefit, with God’s help.

Ever since we organized the Summer Kids Camp in Mine 12/18 five years ago, we’ve seen positive changes in the lives of these young children, which I’m sure, affect both their family and peers.

We just had another successful Summer Kids Camp, praise God for that. And once again, the children enjoyed it to the hilt and were truly happy. Even before the last day, the children were already asking about next year’s camp. That only showed how they enjoyed the whole experience so much!

And yet again, the Lord took care of the provisions to make this year’s Summer Kids Camp happen. Prior to the camp, the core leaders and I met and discussed the lack of personnel to help out in the camp due to conflict in schedule (some of our former volunteers could only take a leave from work only before or after the official dates of the camp). Pastor Sergei was actually a bit concerned on how 15 volunteers could handle 100 camp participants for a week.

But God is good.

On the first day of the camp, 20 — not just 15 — volunteers showed up! And later on, four more people came and pledged their manpower support. Everyone knew the drill, so to speak, and the program just ran smoothly. The team work was just great!

What is worth mentioning here is the participation of a compassionate football player, who helped us in this year’s Summer Kids Camp.

Sanji Kingsley, a 26-year-old Nigerian football player of the Mettalurg Donetsk Football team, stumbled upon this blogsite (see his comment on my blog here), sent me an e-mail of encouragement, and expressed his desire to support me in my ministry here in Donetsk. After sending off his e-mail, he then called me on my mobile phone — what a pleassant surprise — and basically said the same thing on the phone.

After our initial talk, I told Sanji that he could help in the Summer Kids Camp. He immediately agreed and we decided to meet up that evening to talk things through. I asked Sergei to join us in the meeting that evening. Sanji contributed financially, and agreed to come and play with the children during the camp. How cool!

The campers were so happy and enjoyed their time playing football with Sanji (football is a big thing here in Ukraine). They also asked for his autograph! Then they requested him to come back for next year’s camp. (Sanji also donated boxes of McDonald’s Happy Meal treats, which the kids loved.)

Sanji has a three-year contract with the Mettalurg Donetsk Football team, which means he will be here in Ukraine for at least the next three years. Prior to his relocation in Ukraine last month, he played football in Cyprus and in other countries, Portugal included.

The multilingual football player (he speaks five languages fluently, and would like to learn Russian soon) hails from a Christian family, and would like to do the kind of work that I do here in Donetsk. But due to the nature of his work, he can’t be active in the church scene as much as he wants to since football games and team practices fall on weekends. However, he has promised to come to our church here in Donetsk whenever he has no football commitments on Sundays. He has also pledged his support to next year’s Summer Kids Camp this early. What great news!

Sanji has a heart to help underprivileged children, and would like to serve as an inspiration to many of them since he used to be like them. But through sheer hard work, he became good in playing football and made a good living out of it. Now, Sanji is more than willing to help in God’s work wherever he is.

Thanks, Sanji, for all your help. May God bless you in full measure. You have such a big heart!

(Note: To view my Flickr photos of this year’s Summer Kids Camp, click here.)


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Joy that Last

The word happiness evokes visions of un-wrapping gifts on Christmas morning, strolling hand in hand with the one you love, being surprised on your birthday, responding with unbridled laughter to a comedian, or vacationing in an exotic locale. Everyone wants to be happy; we make chasing this elusive ideal a lifelong pursuit: spending money, collecting things, and searching for new experiences.

But if happiness depends on our circumstances, what happens when the toys rust, loved ones die, health deteriorates, money is stolen, and the party’s over? Often happiness flees and despair sets in.

In contrast to happiness stands joy. Running deeper and stronger, joy is the quiet, confident assurance of God’s love and work in our life – that he will be there no matter what. Happiness depends on happenings, but joy depends on Christ.

The book of Philippians (one of Paul’s letters) is Paul’s joy letter. The church in that Macedonian city had been a great encouragement to Paul. The Philippian believers had enjoyed a very special relationship with Paul during his stay with them, so he wrote them a personal expression of his love and affection. They had brought him great joy. Philippians is also a joyful book because it emphasizes the real joy of the Christian life. The concept of rejoicing or joy appears sixteen times in four chapters, and the pages radiate this positive message, culminating in the exhortation to “always be full of joy in the Lord, I say it again…rejoice!” (4:4)

Although Paul was writing from prison, joy is a dominant theme in this letter. The secret of his joy is grounded in his relationship with Christ. People today desperately want to be happy but are tossed and turned by daily successes, failures, and inconveniences. Christians are to be joyful in every circumstances, even when things are going badly, even when we feel like complaining, even when no one else is joyful. Christ still reigns, and we still know him, so we can rejoice at all times.

Believers of Christ can have profound contentment, serenity, and peace no matter what happens. This joy comes from knowing Christ personally and from depending on his strength rather than our own.

We can have joy, even in hardship. Joy does not come from outward circumstances but from inward strength. As Christians, we must not rely on what we have or what we experience to give us joy but on Christ within us.

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