“I want life!”
Change a life this summer
“I had a hard life as a child,” explains Dalibor. “My father was violent to my mother and in prison some of the time. I became a violent boy and my mother gave me up to social care. I lived with some families but even they thought that I was a lost cause.”
Dalibor is typical of the approximately 800 foster children living in and around Verazdin, Croatia. Most of these children and young people come from complicated backgrounds. Some have parents in prison, some have been kicked out onto the street and some have been removed from their homes by social services.
Who offers life to these vulnerable children and young people?
“The first people that gave me real friendship were from Emanuel church,” continues Dalibor. “They invited me to a guitar class, a youth meeting and the summer camp. The camp was the greatest moment because there I had a meeting with Jesus and prayed that He would write a new history for my life.”
Emmanuel Church has responded to the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of these children and young people by setting up the I Want Life organisation. I Want Life provides a year-round series of programmes offering activities that these children would otherwise have no chance to experience and enjoy.
I Want Life’shighlight is a summer camp for 14-18 year olds in a purpose built campsite on the beautiful Croatian coast. Each year this event is attended by around 60 youth, most of whom are chosen by the local foster care association, although some non-foster children are also involved.
"If I could, I would like to say to everyone: help them each year to make this camp happen because it is tremendous what is happening!" proclaims foster care organisation leader Vladimir Hoblay.
What does the I Want Life camp provide?
- Fun: The chance to engage in sports, music, drama, and art – activites they would otherwise be unable to afford.
- Faith: 65 young people attended a previous camp with 40 of them accepting Jesus on the final evening!
- Friends: Of those same 65, half continued to attend ongoing activities such as seminars on drugs and sex, English and Portuguese lessons and guitar classes.
- Family: A much-needed break for foster parents.
- Foundations: This will be the sixth camp run by I Want Life, providing local Christians credibility with the local foster care association and through that with local government.
"What you do during the camp (about how many hear the gospel) is like the work of a year for most of the churches in Croatia," declares pastor Nenad Kovačević.
I Want Life needs your help.
Half of the camp’s funding will be raised locally through fundraising concerts, church donations and contributions from local businesses and government. It will be run by volunteers who mainly come from three nearby churches (some of those saved in previous years have returned as volunteers!). But they still need additional funding to meet the camp’s costs.
- £8 will offer a day at the summer camp to a needy young person
- £56 will provide someone with a full week’s programme
- £280 will give 5 young people the chance to attend this year’s camp
“We need your help. Join us!” extolls pastor of Emmanuel Church Jonatan Vukov. “Be the one who makes it possible for young people in Croatia to hear the gospel.”
I Want Life is just one example of the outreach events ECM is organising across Europe this summer. Another will be in Karlsruhe, Germany, where refugees from places such as Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan will be invited to a sports camp run by local Christians. This may be the first time that many of these migrants will have the opportunity to interact with someone who knows Jesus.