Peace to you, dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the beginning of July, the Christian family camp “Pilgrims” was held in the village of Efremkino (Khakassia, Siberia). This year participants came from Abakan, Tuim, Tomsk, Novosibirsk, and Yekaterinburg. Most of the people who gathered are members of our parishes, but there were also those who are still unchurched, who wanted to learn more about Christ, about faith, about the Church. Some of them have already visited our Christian camps before, others have arrived for the first time.
During the eight days of the camp, we made a pilgrimage to the Heavenly Kingdom together, passing through the countries of Greed, Pride, Anger, and Envy. At each stage, we faced different temptations and difficulties. Completing the journey through another country, we studied a passage from the Scripture that speaks about this vice. Together we pondered why it is so difficult for us to overcome sin, how deeply it is ingrained in us. We also said that without Christ, without the Church, without her Sacraments, we are powerless and will not be able to overcome sin on our own.
And we didn’t just talk about it. On Sunday, the priests conducted Divine Liturgy right in the camp, where the Gospel was preached for us, and the Lord granted us to partake of His Body and Blood.
Every day we went hiking, which were not easy walks. We walked about 6 miles (10 km), and with teenagers in a two-day hike even 12 miles (20 km) every day. Moreover, we walked through the mountains, where we were constantly going up and down. It was a serious test especially for the poorly prepared participants. And so we learned to overcome ourselves, to endure, to support a friend and help him (her).
As always, our Christian camp has become a bright event for everyone. Magnificent views that never get bored. Overcoming yourself. Reading and reflecting on God’s Word. Conversations about everything — about school, about work, about books, about God, about faith, about the Church. We learn to understand each other better, parents — children, and children — parents. We delve into the Scriptures and learn to trust God. We understand ourselves better — where are our weaknesses, and where is what we can share with others, what we can help and serve.
We pray for the unchurched people who were in our camp. They heard the Law and the Gospel, they asked very good and deep questions about faith and the Church. We want it not to end with talking, but that they would come to where Christ saves, that is to His Church.
Pray for Lutheran families and children in Siberia, and for those who are close to the Church, but have not yet become her parishioners.