Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matt. 19:26
Kyiv, Ukraine – Mercy Projects, formerly known as Eastern European Outreach, opened an office in 1994 in Kyiv, Ukraine to help at-risk children. Almost 25 years later, our same staff continues to lead the ministry there. Thus, they have seen the first generation of at-risk children grow up and become adults. This newsletter is about one of those young men.
Over the past years many child sponsors have asked, “Where is my sponsored child now? Do you know what happened to them?”
Recently our Ukraine office caught up with a young man named Denis, now 28 years old, because someone saw him on Ukrainian TV (more about that in a moment).
In 1998, young 8-year-old Denis and his older brother lived with their mother in a very small, run-down apartment. Mom divorced their alcoholic and abusive father just two years earlier. The EEO childcare worker, Valya, found out about the family, the terrible situation they were in, and immediately invited them to church and into the sponsorship program.
“When I met Denis and his mother, he had a cancerous tumor and was a very sick boy. He did not have much energy,” Valya said.
Denis, now a grown man, is not sure how he survived and coped with his childhood.
“Whenever my father would drink, he would beat my mother. He also beat my brother and me. When I was 6 years old, my parents divorced and we lived with my mother. After a while, my father died. When you are little, you don’t really understand whether you have problems or not, but I knew that it was very difficult for my mother to raise two boys by herself.
We were really poor and couldn’t afford anything. Mom always came home late from work, she was so tired. She cooked for us, and early in the morning went to work again. My brother and I tried to understand and support her,” he said.
“I remember when they told us we would have a sponsor and that an organization was going to help us. I think it gave us hope in our young life. I always looked forward to receiving letters from our sponsors. I was very interested to know how they lived and what their interests were.”
Denis continued, “Later, when I turned sixteen, my mother went to Italy to work. It was very difficult for her to leave us home alone. I think there was no other option. My older brother and I lived alone but we still went to church every Sunday. My health got better and God always helped us. He was always there for us. ”
Bible Camps Changed His Life
“A big role in my life was going to camps. The counselors were a great example to me, which I wanted to imitate. I was a shy and closed guy, but they helped me to be set free. After two weeks in camp, I came home a completely different person, and everything around me became brighter.”
Denis was naturally drawn to music.
“I loved music since childhood. Sponsors helped me study in music school and I finished school in piano; I played drums for five years, guitar for four years, and sang in the choir.
In 2005 I was still very shy and would sing worship songs quietly while serving tea and coffee in the little church café. I worked up the courage to ask the worship leader if I could join the group. He helped me start a youth worship team called, ‘SKEEMANS – Project of Successful Youth.’ This idea started as a project but it grew into SKEEMANS Church for young people. I am the leader of the worship team.
In 2012 we recorded two albums with our own songs. We became one of the most popular Christian groups in Ukraine. Many churches invited us to do praise and worship, but we also wanted to tell people about the Lord outside the church walls,” Denis stated.
Winning the National Music Competition
“We learned about a national music competition from the radio called ‘Hit-Conveyor.’ We wrote a song about Jesus called ‘He Is’ (Listen to Song Below) and entered it in the competition. Then the miracle happened! For the first time in a nationally televised talent show, a worship band won first place. We got first prize out of 250 participants. Today this worship song is played constantly on all the music channels and radio stations,” he said.
Sponsorship Made A Huge Difference
“I am sure that if it were not for sponsorship, I would not be where I am now. I would not have learned to help others without expecting something in return. You created a circle of support that changed our lives. After that, we can go out and turn the whole world upside down for God.”
We say Amen Denis. Keep changing the world for Jesus. With God, All Things Are Possible.