Give thanks to the Lord for he is good; his love endures forever. I Chr. 16:34
We recently celebrated our 25 year anniversary of ministry in Ukraine. The photo above, taken at the Salvation Army Church in Kyiv, includes friends, former staff and sponsored children, our Ukraine office staff, family sponsorship coordinators, camp counselors, missionaries, chaplains, and an orphanage director. We are grateful for your partnership to bring the gospel to the needy children and people of Ukraine!
A little over 25 years ago, in October 1994, Mercy Projects registered officially in Ukraine as Eastern European Mission. Irina Skrypnik joined us as director to begin a child sponsorship ministry in the nuclear contaminated Chernobyl zone, including thousands of evacuated families. The ministry to at-risk children grew to include orphans, handicapped children, and families in poverty. Here are a few short stories shared amidst the tears and laughter of our gathering.
“You are like a family to me,” Gennadi shared. “About 12 years ago I was a drug addict, face down in the street. I eventually got saved, grew in Christ, and you supported me as a worker with Teen Challenge. Then you supported me as a bible college student. Now you support me as a missionary. It is a miracle, but today I am married, we just had a child, I am serving the Lord, and your sponsorship has helped me every step of my journey. Thank you and thank the Lord for you!”
“My name is Maria and sponsors helped me since I was five years old. They gave me a stuffed animal which I brought with me today. As a teenager I had many questions about God.
“My counselors had so much patience with me! I looked forward all year to those 10 days at summer camp. I dreamed to become a counselor, but they said ‘No, you must be a Christian!’ You led me to Jesus and my life is changed forever. Thank you to my sponsors who have helped me all these years!”
Moms at the Hearts of Love Center Give Thanks
The party continued a few days later at the Hearts of Love Center in Konotop, Ukraine. A group of grateful mothers gathered to share their stories, their tears, and give thanks to the Lord and to their sponsors.
“Thanks be to God and many thanks to you! Please come visit us. And thank you for loving our children!”
Lena Yuschenko, Director at Hearts of Love
“About 23 years ago I was poor, unemployed, and my daughter was sick. I got on the train and went to Kyiv to meet with EEO director Irina, whom I met for the first time. That meeting with Irina gave me life and encouragement. What did I have? How could I serve? She showed me how big God could be in my life.
“She encouraged me to get started and today we have been serving kids with disabilities for 16 years with the support of Mercy Projects. As you know, the public schools send children to us. They do not know what to do with our special children. With patience, love and hard work, our kids are learning how to communicate with others. They dance, they sing, and their moms have a resource, someone to talk to and pray with. This is all because of the team of staff and sponsors who support us.”
“I want to briefly tell you about a Foster Family in Sumy. They have nine children in their care. One little girl came to them several years ago with a diagnosis of HIV. Her mother was a drug user. The schools wouldn’t let her in so she came to us occasionally.
“We prayed with her and her foster mom. We accepted her and we loved her. Today, as a teenager, she has a new diagnosis. The HIV is gone. This can only happen by God’s grace!”