The Transforming Power of Love
Even now, some 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union, many of the old social structures still remain. For instance, in Ukraine, around 100,000 children still live in State boarding homes (called Internats). Some are orphans, some are wards of State, and some are “economic orphans” – there because of the desperate poverty of their parents. In our work with a great many of these children, we get very close to some of them. Here is Katya’s story. Katya (short for Kateryna) grew up in a Ukrainian State Home. Her mother was an alcoholic, often involved in petty crime, and would pressure her children to follow her bad example. The State intervened, and at seven years of age, Katya was removed from her abusive home and placed into the Verba State Boarding Home, in Western Ukraine near Poland. At Verba, Katya’s teachers and caregivers complained that she was one of the most difficult children: bad behaviour, no manners, dirty, and always using foul language. She didn’t know how to comb her hair or wash her face. She was like a young animal, struggling to survive in a hard and unloving world. We even featured her in our 2002 Overcomers magazine. During the Christmas holidays, children from Verba were sent back to their families, where possible. But this didn’t work where the children were true orphans or were wards of State. So families in the Baptist Churches in Rivne, where our MWB Ukraine office is based, used to bring the children with no families home to stay for Christmas. In 2001, when she was ten,
Katya and Petro, 2011.
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Lyudmyla, Emotional Support Coordinator, MWB Ukraine, with Katya.
Katya and Lyudmyla first featured in Overcomers 2002.
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Katya got to stay for Christmas with one of staff, Lyudmyla, our Emotional Support Coordinator, and her family. It was the first time Katya had ever experienced what normal family life is like. From that time on, Lyudmyla’s family took Katya home for Christmas and for weekends when they could.
Over time, Katya blossomed. She started going to church with Lyudmyla’s family, made more new friends at church, and started to build her own relationship with God. Little by little, many of the wounds and deprivations of her early life have begun to heal.
Lyudmyla taught Katya how to take care of herself and her appearance, and even to wash her own clothes (which is done for them in the State homes). She was eager to learn and wanted to change. Lyudmyla says she was like clay in the potter’s hands, soft and malleable. For the first time ever, Katya began to make friends, something she had been unable to do.
When she reached 18, Katya “graduated” from the Home. She was thrilled to have her foster family present and at the party that followed. Children from the Homes then leave the Home and must find their own place to live for July to August until they are offered a place at a halls of residence attached to a poly-tech or university. Katya went to live with Lyudmyla. She gained a place in Rivne State University is is right now completing her Degree in Pre-School Education and Psychology. She loves children and hopes to work in a kindergarten or with young children after she graduates.
Being in a Christian family, she learned about God and Jesus, and to pray. Once she told Lyudmyla, “When I grow up, I want to be a preacher. I want to tell people about God. I don’t want to live like my mother. I don’t ever want my children to live in an orphanage like me. I believe God will help me. He is with me and will never leave me.”
“When I grow up, I want
to be a preacher...I don’t want to live like my mother. I don’t ever ever want my children to live in an orphanage like me.”
During her time in Verba Home, she was sponsored by a Kiwi. Joan, from the lower North Island, tells us that she still prays for Katya daily, as well as the other four children she has sponsored.
MWB in FOCUS | AUGUST 2012
In 2009, she made a Christian commitment and was baptised. The most recent development is very special. Katya got to know a mature young man at her church, Petro. They married last northern summer, and very shortly their first child is due. Katya asked us to share this good news with her former sponsor in New Zealand and to pass on her huge gratitude to her sponsor who cared for her so much while in the State Home. You can imagine the delight of her former sponsor, when we were able to share this news with her. Joan wrote to us: “What an amazing outcome (it made me cry to read about it!) to what was once a hopeless situation in Katya’s young life. Isn’t God good!...Who could have imagined what was in store for her?” ♦
SUMMER CAMPS UPDATE
From Left: Children really get into singing at summer camp, Romania, June 2012; Andrew and Liz Wilks meet some F2F sponsored children they recognise at the same camp in Romania.
A huge THANK YOU to all those who have so generously responded to our request for help to send children to MWB summer camps (late May to July). We have had a great response and expect to have sent over 3500 children to camps. One of our
Kiwi volunteers to two camps in Ukraine described the personal challenges of building relationship with children, some of whose extreme family backgrounds defy belief. But God is faithfully working through the staff and volunteers and young lives are
being touched and transformed by the constant love and care offered. Thank you for your support and prayers. Andrew and Elizabeth Wilks visited a special weekend summer camp in Garbova, Romania in June (see picture).
operation cover up This is the exciting time when all the hand-made items find their way to central collecting and packing places in the North and South Islands before being sent to Europe by sea in shipping containers. These contributions show extraordinary love and commitment to helping those who are less well off in our field countries, and are greatly appreciated by our staff who distribute them and those that receive the colourful, warm items when they most need them. Thank you to all those involved, and to those who are still helping with the sorting, packing and shipping: we are deeply indebted to you all. From Left: Hat, scarf and matching slippers â€“ what more could a little girl ask for! â€“ Bosnia 2011; Children choosing warm hats, scarves and gloves, Moldovan orphanage, winter 2012; Romanian family with warm things, winter 2012.
MWB in FOCUS | AUGUST 2012
$40 per month
is what it takes to make a difference in the lives of a child or family We are having a drive to get more sponsors for our families and children who still need them. You will hear short adverts on Radio Rhema, and see ads in some Christian publications. We need more sponsors because sponsoring is a wonderful way to extend help, encouragement and hope to families and children for whom those things are in short supply.
And it really helps us to develop our programmes and take the Gospel into new communities. If you know someone who is considering child or other sponsorship – we would love to talk to them!
Freephone 0800 469 269.
Calendar on sale now! $9.95 plus post and handling of $2.00 (for up to 4 – free for more). Please use the Order Form on our website or the one that accompanied this newsletter. All profits from the sale of these calendars will go to support our work in Eastern Europe.
Direct Credit Payments: Our bank account is 06-0185-0122206-12 If you would like us to issue a receipt for tax rebate purposes, please include or email us your name, supporter number (if you have one) and a reference code: WMN: Where most needed APPEAL: This month’s appeal SM: StreetMercy SC: Summer Camp CRI: Child sponsorship F2F: Family sponsorship Bibles: Bibles and literature For Bibles, please use account 06-0185-0122206-25 but please note that gifts for Bibles do not qualify for tax rebates.
MISSIONWITHOUTBORDERS (NZ) PO Box 56264, Dominion Road, Auckland 1446
Phone 09 309 6969
Reg. Charity No. CC37218
Helping to Change Lives in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Moldova, Romania and Ukraine