Moldova has suffered particularly badly in the COVID pandemic, coming as it did on the heels of a severe drought and disastrously poor harvests in 2020, which added to the already heavy burdens of the poor and vulnerable.
Poverty is endemic in large sections of the populace, and its consequences are evident not only in material terms but in the realm of relationships, and particularly family life. This scenario is common in a number of E European countries.
Families are poor. The parents cannot find work to sustain their children and their homes. They take the decision to go and work in other countries where it can be found, and children are left to the care of ageing grandparents who themselves find life difficult and challenging.
Often this results in children growing up without adequate parental guidance and discipline, and falling prey to many dangers and temptations, including addiction, sexual abuse, and even human trafficking. It is no exaggeration to say that chaos is evident in many family situations.
There is profound and widespread concern in the evangelical churches for those caught in such circumstances, and a deep desire to address the needs of children and young people, in an effort to protect them from potentially disastrous influences in their lives.
The usual comprehensive camp programmes of the churches, catering for thousands of young people each summer, is not possible, but believers are neither sitting on their hands, nor merely wringing their hands in disappointment. Instead, church leaders and youth workers supported by SGA[UK] are organizing ‘day camps’ – a daily programme of events, activities and Bible talks in many villages and small communities.
The only missing ingredient, by necessity, is the residential element. Instead of the young people ‘going off’ to camp, camp is coming to them, carefully planned and enthusiastically supervised and carried out in multiple locations across north Moldova.
In some locations up to 80% of those attending come from non-Christian families.
Encouraging reports are already filtering through of God using this initiative in the neediest of places – in extremely poor villages where no children’s work has ever been previously undertaken.
Workers on the ground speak of unexpected numbers. In some locations up to 80% of those attending come from non-Christian families. It is clear that the Lord has been answering prayer. The work will not end with the summer programme. Pastors and Christian workers have planned a sustained follow-up ministry which will maintain and make the most of new friendships forged and contacts established.
Pray that, despite the chaos of their family lives and the disruption caused by COVID, many young hearts will be opened to Jesus and families transformed through the power of the Gospel.