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OCMC News - Agape in the Balkans: Kosovo Day Camps

by Ted Theodorou (Posted 7/14/2009)

OCMC News - Agape in the Balkans: Kosovo Day Camps
Gabriela Hoppe works with children at the Kosovo Day Camps along with her husband, Nathan. Children who attend these camps "start off the academic year with fully charged batteries ready to go."

Sitting in his Land Rover under the shade of a tree at the Hilmi Hoti School in Kosovo, Nathan Hoppe was surrounded by the bustle of some 200 children. It was the second of five camps that he and his wife Gabriela led during the summer months of June and July. He watched as the twenty-five youth counselors and volunteers from Albania engaged the children with music, song, and dance. Though they did not know it, Nathan was attuned to the social formation that was taking place in the children’s hearts.

With support of a generous grant from the Orthodox Christian Mission Center's (OCMC) Agape Canister Program, the Kosovo Day Camps are teaching citizenship skills and basic human values that children need to be productive members of their society. Every year there is a theme, which the camp staff discusses and teaches through use of the fine arts. At the closing day of the camp, there is a festival in which the children present songs, poems and skits that they have prepared often reflecting the theme of the camp. Agape funds are used to purchase supplies, compensate the staff, and offset the cost of travel between camp sites.

Local government officials have affirmed that the Kosovo Day Camps have a tremendously positive impact on the whole emotional environment of the area. "It was like everyone started off the academic year with fully charged batteries ready to go and ready to learn after the stimulating experience of the camp," said Idriz Hoti, a former Kosovo Liberation Army officer who now directs a village school in the town of Caralluk.

During their time in Kosovo, Nathan and Gabriela are also able to visit many Serbian and Albanian friends. This spring marks ten years since the end of the war in Kosovo and the Hoppe's have seen many positive changes. Perhaps the most visible is the opening of a new road between Tirana and Prishtina, which cuts the travel time in half and dramatically reduces wear and tear on both people and automobiles.

The Agape Canister Program truly allows God’s love to shine forth and helps to heal the wounds and brokenness in this part of the world. Currently Agape funds are supporting nine projects in eight countries around the world. If you would like to become an Agape partner, send an email to agape@ocmc.org or call 1-877-GO-FORTH

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God of truth and love: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, Hear our prayer for those who do not know You. That they may come to a saving knowledge of the truth, and that Your Name may be praised among all peoples of the world. Sustain, inspire, and enlighten Your servants who bring them the Gospel. Bring fresh vigor to wavering faith; sustain our faith when it is still fragile. Continually renew missionary zeal in ourselves and in the Church, and raise up new missionaries who will follow You to the ends of the world. Make us witnesses to Your goodness full of love, full of strength, and full of faith for Your glory and the salvation of the entire world. Through the prayers of all the missionary saints, Have mercy on us and save us. Amen.
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