Participants in Children’s Heart Project in Mongolia had the opportunity this summer to gather with each other while hearing the message of the Gospel
This summer, Samaritan’s Purse hosted the third annual Heart Camps in Mongolia. Heart Camps are a ministry of Children’s Heart Project used to further the participants’ faith in Christ after they return home.
Each year, Children’s Heart Project brings dozens of children with serious heart conditions from their home countries to hospitals in North America to receive surgery. Without the operations, most of these children would not live until adulthood. The children and their mothers typically spend at least six weeks living with a Christian host family, and that family often introduces them to the Gospel.
After treatment, many patients return home to share the Gospel and their new chance at life with others in their villages. But in Mongolia, that can be difficult. Until the fall of the Soviet Union in the early 90s, Christianity was banned from the country. When communism collapsed, missionaries quickly began spreading the news of Jesus Christ. Still, Christians constitute only a little more than 2 percent of the population.
Samaritan’s Purse began Heart Camps to offer a discipleship program for participants in Children’s Heart Project. This summer, 108 children and youth in Mongolia had the opportunity to experience the love of Christ as they fellowshipped with each other. Four campers accepted Christ as their Savior. In total, 77 of the campers are Christians who came to faith in Jesus either during their stay in the U.S., during post visits from Children’s Heart Project staff, or at camp during previous years.
The weeklong programs offer a place where these children can see the light and hope of Christ more clearly. For many of the participants, the week of Heart Camp is the only time during the year when they are in an alcohol-free environment. Leaders report this “atmosphere of safety” creates a place where the young people can open up, trust, and enjoy life more fully.
The true love and freedom that they experience at the camp brings them joy, which impacts them in a way their families notice when they return home. The living testimony of the transformation in the children also serves as a witness to the nationals who own and manage the site where the camp is held.
Heart Camps bring many of these young people together to support one another. Some of the older patients who became Christians while in North America counsel the younger patients and can often speak into their lives in ways that others can’t. Three new children stepped into leadership positions this year to disciple and support others. The camps create opportunities to share the Gospel, and to encourage young believers to follow God faithfully.
On the last night of the youth camp, Zolo, one of the local teachers, shared his testimony with the group. His mother abandoned him at a trash dump when he was 7 years old. In the winter, he and other neglected children dug holes in the ground where they huddled together to stay warm.
Members of a local church served the children one meal each day. When Zolo was 16, he began to understand the Gospel and accepted Christ as his Savior. God became his Father in every way. After Zolo shared, the camp participants split into groups for times of sharing and prayer. Staff members prayed over each child. God worked in that time, and many of the youth and children expressed the desire to stay at the camp rather than return home.
Please pray for the spiritual and emotional needs of these young people as they go back to their families after having experienced Christ’s love through the Samaritan’s Purse staff members. Pray that they continue to look to Him for love and peace despite their difficult circumstances.
Please pray also in thankfulness for the Mongolian camp staff, as many of them sacrificed greatly to take the time to lead the camp. They often work six or seven days a week to provide for their families, so the time spent at camp illustrates their willingness to serve unconditionally.