While traveling in Vilnius, Lithuania, we saw a T-shirt that said “I love Lithuania! Now…where is that?” Exactly my thoughts. Where is the world is Lithuania? The last week of July this year, it was, for a group of 70 Christians, right in the arms of God. My husband and I traveled to Camp Ruta right outside of Vilnius, Lithuania to attend Baltic Family Camp. It was a camp hosted by Levy Church of Christ in North Little Rock, Arkansas and the Vilnius Church of Christ. Little did we know, that this country of only 3.2 million people would touch our lives and hearts forever.
One of the best parts about doing mission work is the support received from people back home. One of the worst parts about doing mission work is that those supporters rarely get the opportunity to witness firsthand the work that they are supporting. In this case, the supporters came to the scene of action to see what Christianity in Eastern Europe was all about. Seventy Christians from Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Germany, Canada, and America gathered together for one week to learn, grow, and teach each other. We spent time singing together, praying together, fellowshipping together and studying God’s Word together. From personal experience, mission work supporters often do not realize the impact that their presence can have on the missionaries and the people of the congregation. Normally, as missionaries, we are required to be the ones “feeding” and sometimes, we need the opportunity to be the ones “fed”. This week turned out to be just the nourishment that so many of us needed. We were reminded that we are truly not alone.
Our theme for the week was “We are One”. I have to admit that at first, I was thoroughly unimpressed by this theme. It seemed uninventive and overused. How many times have we heard lessons in the Church of Christ about unity? But put it in the context of the Christians at Baltic Family Camp, from so many different places and backgrounds, and it came alive in a whole new way. Some of the Christians that we met and fell in love with at camp were the whole of their church in their city. It’s quite shocking for a Christian coming from a body of 500 or 1000 members to hear that one couple is the entire church. How is that possible? How can they do that? Most people would just give up. Which is why the concept of Baltic Family Camp and the theme of “We are One” was so powerful. There isn’t multiple congregations of hundreds of people in each country in Eastern Europe that are supporting each other and helping each other. The Christians that are supporting the Christians in Eastern Europe are the Christians at Levy Church of Christ and the Christians that came to Baltic Family Camp and went home passionate about making a difference in the lives of those they met.
It was powerful this week to watch those who are able meeting those who need. And it was beautiful to see the realization in the eyes of those that have the resources realizing what an effect they can have on the lives of Christians who desperately long for fellowship with other Christians. Baltic Family Camp brought together seventy people who couldn’t have been more different in heritage, language, and personality and showed them that they are truly one in Christ. And being one in Christ means we have a responsibility to one another. We are blessed with the ability to serve each other and we are expected to do it.
My husband and I will not forget the lessons we learned from the Christians at Baltic Family Camp and we hope to return as often as possible to be reminded that God is powerfully working in Eastern Europe and that we have the ability to help those that He is calling to serve the church there. The church calls us to fellowship and despite the distance, we, as fellow Christians, are their fellowship.
Our prayer is that next year more Christians from Eastern Europe will learn of family camp and be brought together with those who will find a desire to love and serve them.