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QUEST - Purity Retreats Ukraine 2012

Holly Friesen on August 14, 2012

Introducing something new is always a bit scary, especially when you are working in another culture. I am so thankful for the way the Lord directed and blessed our efforts as we planned and carried out the first ever purity retreats for teen girls in our area. 
To give you a bit of background – we had two retreats Aug 1-3 and Aug 5-7, and worked with two different groups of churches to plan each one. I met with church leaders to explain our desire to organize these retreats and to get their help in recruiting leaders. It was obvious that God orchestrated events to bring just the right leaders alongside us.
purity retreats group 1 leaders leaders for our first retreat We ended up with leaders from at least 10 different churches, most of whom I did not know before we started planning for camp. It was neat to see how God provided just the right person from each group to help me with registration and all those organizational details. They did an excellent job of planning and putting on the drama that was interspersed throughout the program, as well as planning crafts and other activities including a treasure hunt that took quite a bit of work to put together. 
purity retreats group 2 leaders some of the 2nd group leaders heading out to prepare the campground Most importantly God gave us some great small group leaders that really cared about their girls and did a good job of reinforcing the lessons on purity and getting the girls to open up. In visiting with them before and during camp, it was obvious that they understood the need to provide help and encouragement to our girls in this area, and they are already talking about when we are going to do it again! In addition to this group of leaders we also had cooks and camp guards who volunteered their time and served with love & joy.
The main church that helped us organize the first group is one that I had never worked with before. I was so blessed by their support and prayers for us. The camp ground that we used is a ministry of one of the families in this church. The director’s wife told me that there is a prayer team from the church that prays in 30 minutes shifts around the clock whenever camp is in session. They were praying for us during both of our retreats! Several leaders from that church also took time out of their schedules to come and pray with our team of leaders before we headed out to prepare the campground for the girls the night before the first retreat. 
God brought 56 girls for the first retreat and 29 for the second. We had girls from all kinds of backgrounds, saved and unsaved. 
purity retreats group 1 photo 1st purity retreat
The gospel was presented in each retreat as well as God’s plan for guarding our purity in every aspect of our lives, not just physically. Initially there was not much outward response, but by the end of our time together, some of them were willing to publically share what they had learned and how much they appreciated our time together. More of them opened up to their group leaders and I have had good reports about the small group times. They were all sent home with a book that reinforces and expands on the lessons that were given at the retreats. Pray that the message will really sink in, that they will get good follow up through the churches and contacts that brought them to the retreats, and that they truly will commit to purity in every aspect of their lives. Pray also for those who heard the gospel but have not yet turned to Christ for salvation. 
purity retreats group 2 photo 2nd purity retreat
purity retreats carmen & gina Carmen - myself - Gina I am so thankful for Carmen & Gina’s willingness to come and help us with these retreats and for First Baptist Church in Maxwell, NE that gave so generously to make the retreats and their trip here possible. Having them in my home and spending time with them was a blessing to me personally. Having their support and advice throughout the planning and during the retreats was invaluable. The lessons that they shared with our girls were Biblical, practical, and relavent. Even though they could not speak Russian, the girls could sense their love for them and responded well to their sessions and personal interaction with the campers. 
purity retreats translator prep Carmen & Gina preparing for the 1st sessions with their translators Luba & Tanya This was due in no small part to the excellent translators that God provided for us. We could not have done it without Tanya and Luba! They worked hard to make sure that the message was communicated well and that we adapted as needed to the culture here. Their desire to serve the girls was also evident in the way they translated and interacted with the campers and leaders.
purity retreats vika's group girls with their leaders in front of their tent I am amazed as I look back on all that the Lord did to bring these retreats together. There were times during the planning, and even during the retreats, when some challenge would arise and I would wonder if I had bit off more than I could chew!  In reality, I know I did! If God had not brought just the right leaders alongside me, as well as the host of others who had a part in the planning and carrying out of the retreats, they never would have happened! I am humbled and awed when I think about all those who were praying for us in Ukraine as well as in the U.S. God did work as a result of the prayers of His people! He brought things together in ways that I never could have imagined, let alone planned. I am so grateful for the way that He blessed our efforts and worked through our weaknesses. What a privilege it is to be a small part of what God is doing here in Ukraine! To God be the Glory!
purity retreats natasha's group another group of girls with their leader