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  • Writer's pictureRoger Duffy

Russian Summer Camp

Updated: Apr 5, 2022

Summer was coming and Bishop Richard was encouraging us to participate in the upcoming camp for the children of the churches. This was a big investment in more than one way for three underground churches in the Moscow region. As the Missionary in the group, I felt led to help overcome the first obstacle: Who was going to feed all these children for two weeks? Now the meals were simple, but the amount of food was more than anyone could afford, so the parents would have had to pay for each child. Most could not afford the price for one child, but many people had many children, so it would be out of the question. It may have been my actions that would pay for this, but it was those who had sponsored me to go to Russia that would receive the blessing in their lives. It was settled that each and every child from all three undergrown churches would go to camp free of charge. I felt this is what Jesus would do and did with our salvation. Free to all!!!

All the arrangements were made and we were to have the summer camp on the bank of the Moscow River in the far reaches of the woods. I had tried to persuade my wife (Natasha) to go with me on this adventure, but she was pregnant and each and every day she had morning sickness badly. I packed just enough clothes for my stay of two weeks and asked Natasha to bring me to the point that I could proceed with all the believers. So, she agreed to take me as far as Sherbinka to meet the church and from there I would proceed to the camp, but it was not to happen. When we exited the commuter train, the church had already left. We were told we would have to go further to Moscow and meet the brothers there and so Natasha said that she would bring me that far to join up with the brothers and then she would come home. Again, it was just not in the plan of GOD. We arrived at the appropriate exit and were informed by the wives of the brothers that they had just left and we would have to meet them further down the line by subway. So again, Natasha could not just leave me, so she said she would bring me to the end of the subway and surely, we would catch up with the church. We took the subway and it had been three or more hours from the start of our journey from Chekhov and as it would turn out when we got off the subway and entered the street there was no one to be found from the churches. I guess we will have to take the bus to the village where the camp will be. Off we went in an old bus for almost an hour till we reached a small village with only one road sloping down to the Moscow River. Down the dusty road we walked till we reached the edge of the river only to be greeted by a brother in a kayak. Yes, we would have to forge the river one by one, but we were assured there would be a car that could bring Natasha back to her home.

The camp was just a large open field covered by a forest on all three sides and closed by the river on the other side. This was no American camp with kitchens, bath houses and cabins for all. Just a field that we had to cut down the knee-high grass to put under our two-man tent for comfort. We built the latrines by digging two large holes and putting a floor over it with two holes. Placed poles in the ground a few feet and wrapped canvas around them for privacy. Everything we made or received from the environment. My job was to get fire wood to cook our food three times a day for all of us. They gave me a small hatchet and sent me on my way saying, “Any dead trees in the forest we were at liberty to take down.” I was not pleased with my tool of their choice and tried to explain that a long handle axe would be the ideal tool. “NO, NO” they said “you must be a Russian Man and use what you have”. Off I went with my little hatchet that they call a kolune, seeking the dead trees that were near to camp. I tried to circle the camp to find something close, but the woods were clean, so I went further in to the woods and found a rather large dead tree. It was almost a foot across at the base, but it was all I could find. Falling a tree in the woods is not always easy, so I looked for a spot that it would not get hung up in the surrounding trees. Down on my knees I started to cut the tree with my little hatchet. Oh, how I wished I had an axe or even better a chainsaw. This is Russia and all there is a hatchet, so with a lot of effort and even more time the tree came crashing down and it looked much bigger on the ground then in the air. I went scampering back to camp to get the same brothers that gave me the hatchet to retrieve the tree. I could not tell them how far or how big the tree was, but just expressed that I finished the task they gave me. As we walked back, I could not help but giggle to myself thinking what they would think of my large tree when they got there. I do not know what they thought, but they were impressed with the size of the tree. All five of them ran to the tree and from one end to the other picked up the tree on their shoulders and carried it back to the camp. I felt like I was the lone Indian that got the buffalo for the entire tribe.

To go back a bit to the camp and my wife Natasha, she never left the camp for the entire two weeks. There was preaching of the Word of GOD every day. There was twenty-four hours a day prayer for the children, we had the night shift for two hours each night to walk around the camp and pray that GOD would touch these small lives to make a big impact in this part of the world. The anointing was powerful, the games were fun and everyone had good time, even Natasha. Oh, she had to change into my clothes because she had none of her own and we had to wash up in the Moscow River. Even though it was summer the water was frigid cold, but she never complained. Natasha had the task of cleaning the pots after the meals and although she had morning sickness, she cleaned those large pots as if they were the feet of Jesus.

There may have not been all the frills of an American summer camp, but Jesus was there and there was such joy and motivation to see Jesus Christ change lives and as for me and my wife, He did just that. We may have only had porridge three times a day, but we ate at the King of Kings’ table and we were blessed. I thank each and every one who sponsored this ministry for so many lives in Russia were changed by the grace of GOD.

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