|YoungLife Belarus & Baltics|
Biography of Mark & Lera Hamilton
Having come from a non-Christian back ground, Mark knows what it is to reach out to teenagers: “When I was 15 I saw something different in a friend at school, he told me it was because he was a Christian. I was instantly intrigued and it wasn't long before I gave my heart to the Lord. From that moment I always had a heart for reaching non-Christians”.
Mark graduated from Tabor Bible College in Melbourne, Australia in 1999 where he received his Bachelors degree in Cross-Cultural Missions. He also holds a Certificate in TESOL through Cambridge.
Lera comes from a Christian home and grew up in Rochester, New York. She graduated from Monroe Community College receiving her Associates degree in Liberal arts, before moving to Belarus. In 1993, shortly after the fall of the Soviet Union both Mark and Lera felt a strong attraction to the Former Soviet Union and consequently found themselves in Belarus on a short-term trip with their respective churches. From their experiences, they both felt a strong calling and continued their involvement with Belarus. Mark was living and working in Belarus in the summer of 1995 when Lera visited to help with summer camps. This is where they first met and for 6 years maintained a plutonic friendship.
In 2001 their friendship developed and in June 2001 Mark and Lera were married. They are now the proud parents of 3 children (Mikah, Holly, and Lucia).
When asked, “why Belarus & Baltic countries?” they respond, “we fell in love with the people, culture and history of this area; there is a great need here with very few missionaries or ministries reaching the non-Christian youth. It is our hope, with God’s help, that we can introduce Jesus Christ to every young person and give them an opportunity to follow Him”.
After successfully establishing the ministry nationally in Belarus God's vision increased in their hearts for the surrounding nations. After several years of prayer and confirmation Mark and Lera have also pioneered Young Life in the Baltics, starting in Lithuania. Mark was part of a church plant in Riga Latvia back in 1995 and looks forward to traveling back to establish a network to reach out to non-christian teenagers.
Their work with Young Life is to train and equip local Christian's to reach out to teenagers in Belarus & the Baltics by sharing the gospel. In implementing Young Life in Belarus, Mark and Lera established a humanitarian work which provides physical aid such as clothing, food and Christmas gifts to these families and orphans. Each year Young Life conducts workshops in orphanages, youth programs and extreme camps.
Lera sums up their goal, “Our goal is to introduce teenagers to Jesus and give them the opportunity to follow Him”. It is two-fold, firstly we enter the world of teenagers, develop unconditional friendships so we can be a positive influence and role model. Secondly, we continue our mentoring relationship by discipling those teenagers who want to know how to live a Christian life, making disciples who are active members of a local congregation.