A report by Jim Mumper, Sweden
Here in the Nordic Vineyard churches (Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden) we normally have an annual summer camp (with the 2 Covid years being the exception).
In the past we have been able to host many Ukrainians at this event as well as others from other nations. To put the summer camp in the words of John Mumford “It’s the best thing going in the Vineyard internationally!” we are usually a bit over 1000 people living in either caravans, tents or hostel rooms spread out over a campground that also has a large dining facility, various meeting rooms and cafes as well as a large conference hall.
We also generally have various guest speakers from the Vineyard world that are our guest speakers. This year we had Dave & Colleen Petersen from South Africa, who have frequented us many times, as well as Mike Pilivachi from Soul Survivor as our guests along with Anna Beth Morgan from the US as guest worship leader. We always have translation at these meetings – with all of our main meetings being in English at both the Youth camp and the Adult camp. We were able to also provide translation to Russian in the adult meetings, while the Ukrainian youth were able to handle the English for the most part.
Photo: Dave and Colleen Pederson from South Africa
We also were able to host about 35 Ukrainians who have been displaced from the war. Other guests included a group from the Vilnius Vineyard in Lithuania.
The Ukrainians that were there have mainly been settled in Norway and Sweden, with some in Germany and Lithuania. It really was a fantastic week, as usual, but in particular for our Ukrainian friends who were able to meet and hang out with other Ukrainians in the same situation of being resettled. Probably 65% of them were already Christians while the others were not, but as the Holy Spirit has His way, that stat is rapidly changing and the interactions within this group was so gospel good.
Our camp is generally divided into 3 age categories: Children ages 1 to 12, with appropriate divisions within, Youth ages 13 to 20, and then everyone else. This year we were also able to cater to the needs of Ukrainian kids in Ukrainian/Russian.
It is hard to sum up what this week meant for these displaced families other than to say that it was truly magical for them. We took 100% of the costs for them to be there, and it was so worth it, especially when we spoke to all of them individually to ask how the week was for them. We have 18 Ukrainians here with us in our church, although only 13 of them were able to attend, but when I asked one of our 15 year old girls how the camp was for her, she just broke out sobbing saying “I don’t want it to end!” She was previously brought up in a secular home, but she was able to experience the love of God in a tangible way and sensed the Holy Spirit moving in her heart. We also baptized 2 Ukrainians at the camp.
It was a lot of work to get them all there as well as making sure things moved along well at the camp and when it was over, I felt like I really needed a vacation!
Last week in our city, we were able to assist a Ukrainian group that had a week-long day camp for Ukrainian kids which ended last Friday in our church with a concert and a BBQ behind the church building. (Our church building is very central in the city and the back of our church has a grass area that merges into a large park.) All in all there were 125+ Ukrainians that were part of this with about 75 of them being kids.
It was such a joy to see them all get together everyday and make new friends with those who can relate to one another.
Quite honestly I was shocked at how many Ukrainian kids we have in the city. Our church is well positioned to minister to Ukrainians being that we have several people in the church who can speak Ukrainian, plus the leader for our children’s ministry is herself Ukrainian who is married to a Swede, making it easier for us to be able to host them in our church meetings.
Jim Mumper is the pastor of the Norrköping Vineyard, Sweden, and long-term missionary working in Russia and Ukraine.