The Nairn congregation of the Free Church of Scotland has recently hosted a group of school-aged children from Chernobyl in the Ukraine, in a partnership developed alongside other local churches.
Many will remember the horrific explosion at the nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, close to the border between Ukraine and Belarus, in 1986.
While time moves on and the world’s gaze only occasionally returns there, for the residents of that region everything changed that day: the legacy of contaminated food and soil and health-related issues remains an ever-present daily reality.
Over the years, charitable efforts have been made, among other things, to bring to the UK some of the children who have since been born into the affected region.
One such charitable group was founded in Nairn and, in recent years, many young children, aged 8-12, have benefited from a few weeks’ stay in the town during the summer holidays. Different children come each year and, among other things, are treated to fresh healthy air, free medical and dental check-ups, new clothes and some traditional Highland hospitality.
A variety of churches in Nairn have been at the forefront of this enterprise, sharing the love of Christ with those from such an unfortunate background. This year, Nairn Free Church have played a small part in the annual effort by playing host to this year’s visitors and their local host-families.
Nairn minister, Murdo MacLeod, said, ‘We have been blessed to spend two evenings with them, enjoying some games, dancing, chatting, singing, and watching the Shaun the sheep movie. ‘No dialogue makes it nicely watchable for everybody, regardless of their grasp of English!’
While the short time spent with the children offers only a short experience, the congregations involved have been encouraged knowing that the children leave with a sense of what God’s people in a faraway land are doing to help them as they are able.
‘Although what we have done is very small’, Mr MacLeod said, ‘it’s always good to remember that small things can make a big difference. A mere month spent in a healthy climate is believed to add as much as three or four years to the life expectancy of these children.
‘Our hope and prayer would be that the spiritual ripples of a small dose of kindness would lead to a just-as-disproportionate blessing to these children and their families. The God who used the widow’s mite and the young lad’s few loaves and fishes is well able to use and grow our little contribution’.