“I Want to Reach At-Risk Kids like Me”
Note from Jeff about COVID-19. Our staff and missionaries are all doing well. The planet is basically shut down, thus, in Ukraine our staff is planning their next meeting for teens on Instagram. Kosovo is shut down due to their exposure to Italy. Everyone is doing their best and becoming more creative. We are having a “global” video call this week. Salaries and support have been cut for everyone, but we remain steadfastly thankful to the Lord and to you for your support, for continuing your sponsorships, and for your prayers! Our hearts and prayers go out to you as well.
I met up with Andrey Kolbovskiy in Kyiv and we visited the Snowdrop Shelter where he mentors orphans and abandoned kids. Andrey is a Ukrainian believer and a missionary to young people in his country. Mercy Projects supports him a little but he must drive for Uber and do other small jobs to survive. He is a faithful Christ follower serving at-risk kids and families. If you would like to support Andrey, go to his page or donate here:
Kyiv, Ukraine – Andrey picks us up in a sweatshirt and jeans. His English is almost perfect. He looks like someone kids would love. We stop at a gas station for hot dogs and coffee on the way to the Snowdrop Shelter two hours away. I start to ask a few questions about him, but he wants to talk about Mercy Projects and how it has changed his life.
“I met my awesome wife, Alla, in a Mercy Projects summer camp. I was counselor and she was a helper in another team. She didn’t like me at that time because I was ‘too strict.’ Her mother was in your sponsorship program and Alla was a sponsored child. She began as a child in the program and grew up and found Christ. She always loved the summer and winter camps and started training to become a counselor. She was discipled in your camps!”
Andrey continues, “After a couple of years of working together we realized that we had the same heart for at-risk kids and the same goals for life. God blessed me when she said ‘Yes’ to be my wife. We started to do ministry together. I learned that she is the biggest tool in God’s hands for my character. We are married eight years now, we have a four-year-old son Lukyan, and she is my biggest support and inspiration.”
Q. Andrey, why do you work with orphans?
“Well, I understand them. I lived in a village not far from Chernobyl. I know what village life is like and how kids think. After the explosion, my dad got cancer and died when I was five years old. The government moved our family to an apartment in Kyiv for Chernobyl people. So I grow up without a father. I became a troublemaker. There was no dad in my life and I made lots of mistakes. I can relate to these guys.
“God got a hold of me and I met Him personally at age of 17. He was always there to protect me while growing up. I realized that kids like me need a lot of help. I decided that I wanted to be a tool in His hands to reach at-risk kids like me. The kids there in the shelter are sad. At our MP camps kids are happy to be there, but at the orphanage, it is different. Camps are like Christmas. They happen once or twice per year. But, what is really important is that all year long we are there for these kids.”
Q. Tell us about the ministry at Snowdrop
“I am from the area, just across the forest, and Mercy Projects helps them already for many years. Still, I had to build up trust with the kids there. They didn’t know me.
“Last year I met Nataliya, the new director. She was very open and friendly. I learned that she had just lost her husband in a car accident and she has two kids. She is a widow with 2 small kids and is really trying to do her best for the kids in the orphanage.
“We became good friends and she helps us with our ministry. We are mentoring many of the kids and I am trying to do the same with their families. Nataliya wants the same things that we do, so she is a huge blessing for us. With your help we have built a water-well and now they can drink clean water.”
Bread Stop on the Way
“I am blessed through Mercy Projects in many ways. My wife was raised in your program and she is a wise and godly woman. You support Snowdrop Shelter for decades and now you support us to work there.
“This is very huge sign for me. This is such a depressed region of Ukraine and you make a difference here. God has brought us together to bring hope to orphans and widows. Sorry. We must stop here. Let’s get some fresh baked bread, everyone loves it.”