Russia Day 13 – Camp Spring

They came to the 20-day camp – abused, abandoned and neglected children – “non-believers,” who the Rev. Rauza Landorf felt compelled “to help meet Christ and learn his will and ways.”

The 40 children moved into the public school building, living on cots in geography and science classrooms, under portraits of explorers and the Periodic Table of elements. During the day they did sports, made crafts, had Bible study and worshipped in the evening.

“This is called Camp Spring,” Landorf said to the 10 Americans who visited her in Zhitkovo, near Finland. “Spring like the source of water; every child has a source of something good in them. We tap into the source of new life in every child.”

During the course of the camp, the children gradually learn about God, the old, bad stuff is removed and we open them to the Holy Spirt and fill them with God and good things, said Landorf.

After a day of play and getting to know one another, at the evening worship service, some of the children came forward to hold a lit candle and pray for their families. They then sought the blessings of the BWC clergy, who laid hands on the children, one-by-one, claiming the children’s unique destinies for God.

The prayers were intense, transcending language barriers and some of the children got in several lines, eager to be blessed.

Landorf knew this would happen. Over the years, 170 children have come through the Spring Center. She marvels at what is possible when one relies on God.

Raised a Muslim, she was 35 years old before she had ever heard of Christ. Her child’s illness led her to God and to serving children. The United Methodists took in her and her flock when no one else would. “We are thankful for Methodist church; we learn from you to be a big family,” she said.

For Landorf, family has few boundaries. God gave her a gift to love all children, she said.

Recently, Grace UMC, the church Landorf pastors and the homeof Spring Center, was closed by the government, which denied the 45-member congregation permission to continue to rent their facility in St. Petersburg.

It is one of the city’s largest United Methodist churches and Landorf worries about the children who will be hurt if they cannot find a new space.

The Rev. Charles Harrell of Trinity UMC in Prince Frederick, assured her that “what God has started he will bring to a finish, and those words have brought her comfort,” she said. “I will keep loving God, and I will love these children. What else can I do?

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