A Christian faith-based organization in Oakmont and three area churches recently teamed up with a few international churches to offer a kids camp in Cambodia.
South East Asia Prayer Center along Fifth Street in the borough has offered the camp through its Raising Kids program every two years in different parts of the country since 2006.
More than 450 children living in the organization’s New Hope for Orphans children’s homes participated last month. Camp is funded through donations.
“From the US, we sponsor and support all the activities,” SEAPC President Matt Geppert said. “For them, it’s the highlight of their year. They absolutely love it. It’s amazing to watch it all come together.”
This year, SEAPC partnered with New Life Christian Ministries in Saxonburg, West Ridge Christian Community in Coraopolis and Northway Christian Community in Wexford, along with churches from Canada, Britain, Singapore, Los Angeles and Hong Kong to make this year’s camp bigger than before.
Individuals from all the churches traveled to Sihanoukville, Cambodia to help staff the three-day vacation Bible school.
“I am amazed at how little they have but how much they give,” said the Rev. John Goeggel of Westridge Christian Community. “The New Hope homes/camp are meeting so much more than just the kid’s needs — they are giving the abundant life Jesus promised and preparing these kids to change Cambodia for Christ.”
Children were treated to a beachside location where they had Bible teachings, made crafts, participated in group activities and enjoyed the ocean, SEAPC Raising Kids Director Tina Tomes said.
“It’s a time of food, fellowship and fun for them,” said Tomes. “They see that it’s not just them and the kids that they live with (in the homes). It helps them realize that they’re not alone and there are many others like them who have hope because of Jesus. The fact that international people come and help shows that there are people who love them and care about what happens to them, even from halfway around the world.”
Parents were given some training and creative suggestions during the camp on how to become more economically self-sustaining and enhance how they serve the children on a daily basis.
“A highlight of the trip was spending time with the kids, both at their home and at Kid’s Camp,” said New Life missions coordinator Sally Scully. “Their joy is infectious and overwhelming, and the love they show is a true testament to the work of the Holy Spirit.”
A video of the camp was posted to YouTube at rebrand.ly/nhokidscamp.
SEAPC was founded by Geppert’s parents, Mark and Ellie of Oakmont, in 1991. Its mission is to help poverty-stricken countries by providing education, healthcare and economic opportunities.
The group also mobilizes prayer events throughout the United States and helps other children throughout the world through its Coins for Kids program.
More information about SEAPC is available at http://seapc.org/
Michael DiVittorio is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Michael at 412-871-2367, [email protected] or via Twitter @MikeJdiVittorio.