After five wonderful days of teaching and building relationships with campers, the team spent Saturday saying sad goodbyes. It was difficult to say goodbye to all the amazing people we met over the past week.
The first group that left early in the morning was an incredible group of Christian young people who inspired and encouraged the whole team over the course of the week. It was bitter sweet to see these friends leave. Although we had to say goodbye, we knew that these young adults were going back to their individual contexts and were equipped to share Christ in their sphere of influence. The future Russian church is in the hands of these young people and there is no doubt that they will seek to make it grow and thrive.
The team, camp staff, and students all left camp around 11. A majority of the team and campers took a large bus to Tambov. Once in Tambov, more goodbyes were said and the team spent some time in the Tambov market before going out for dinner at an interesting restaurant.
Reflecting back on the time we spent at camp, it is easy to think that there are many things that should have been said or done differently at the individual level. Personally, it is hard to not kick myself over what I see as lost opportunities to speak more boldly about my faith. However, as mentioned above, there is a growing church in Russia, mostly made up of young adults in fire for the Lord. Our role at English camp was evangelism through the tool of English, but it was so much more than that. It was providing a place where the Russian Christians could bring their friends who were unbelievers. It was providing encouragement to these believers so that they can continue to do the work that was begun with them. We can only do so much in five days but the Russian church is here all the time. Even if our job was just to plant seeds, we are allowing the Russian Christians an opportunity to continue to work with these seeds after we are gone. The campers who are unbelievers know who they can turn to when they have questions about what they learned at camp. Knowing that God is using us, even in the short amount of time we spent here, to play a small role in the growth of His church in Russia is amazing. It is humbling to remember that we are not here to save every Russian, but instead we are here to serve the local believers as they effectively reach their friends and family for Christ.
Camp was amazing and the entire team has much to process. Making new friends is wonderful but it always means the goodbyes are difficult. However we know that we will see many of our friends again, if not on this earth than on the one to come and that is an amazing truth to hold on to.