NEWS / ORPHANS

Just Wanting Parental Love

Marina and Andrey are siblings that live in a children’s hospital/infirmary where we serve regularly. They live in this location because the government took them away from their parents for neglect and abuse. Unfortunately, these two children have been relocated here from quite a long time. During the initial months of their relocation, their mother made no attempt to reach out or visit Marina or Andrey. The children were distraught and never seemed to recover from abandonment issues. Marina would frequently ask us, “Why doesn’t my mom visit me?” The hospital staff eventually reached out to the parents and the mother has visited her children on occasion, which has been a relief for the kids. 

 

Our staff visits this facility weekly, teaches children’s Bible studies, love on the children, and try to counsel them to the best of their ability, but nothing takes the place of a loving parent. Sadly, Marina and her brother are “not” rare exceptions, but a part of a growing number of neglected kids. With the amount of time available to our staff, we do our best to give the children some sort of normalcy and escape, while instilling a present hope that Jesus loves them. We always try to make each trip successful through our Biblical studies, crafts, games, etc. 

 

God tells us in Exodus 22:24a, “Don’t mistreat widows or orphans [and neglected children for that matter]. If you do and they cry out to me, you can be sure I’ll take them most seriously.” We have seen through our many years of serving kids, how much God loves them. I have tried to convey God’s concern and listening ear to them through some of our past testimonies. Our ministry exists because others have either harmed or neglected these wonderful children, but your gifts and prayers have done an amazing job of blessing many children – thank you!

 

I am delighted to share with you that this past Easter, Marina accepted Jesus as her personal Savior! She took this conversation to heart and shared with us that prior to her coming to Christ, she regularly struggled with headaches; but after her salvation experience, she began praying to God and all her headache episodes subsided – praise the Lord. 

 

I don’t know when Marina and her brother get to go home, but please pray for all the children we serve – orphans, re-located kids, and disabled children, especially as we enter the holiday season, which is very hard on kids.

Angela’s Testimony & Hospital #17 – “You Saved Us!”

Angela is 11 years old, who has three siblings: an older brother Igor (19), a younger sister Dasha (6), and a younger brother Nikita (5). They used to live with their parents, but her father, who was from the Congo, kicked the entire family out of the home, never wanting to see them again (due to constant conflicts with Angela’s mom). They became homeless, because Angela’s mom did have any extended family. 

Angela’s mom had no choice, but to temporarily send the children to the psychoneurological facility (my assumption is that there was  no room at an orphanage), where the children could reside until she could receive employment and find a place for the family to live together.

We met Angela and her siblings while serving at this location. She is a very outgoing and vibrant young lady. She enjoys our Bible lessons and always looks forward to our visits. She participates in our lessons, engages in crafts, and is a blessing to our team; we always look forward to seeing her. 

 

During one of our trips to Angela’s facility, she shared with us that she constantly prays to God. One of her biggest prayers is to see her mom and eventually be reunited with her. One day, Angela prayed to see her mom. She had apparently called her mom and asked her to come and visit them, but Angela’s mother had the inability to visit the kids for some unknown reason. Angela went into fervent prayer and unexpectedly, her mom was at the facility. For Angela, who loves her mom very much, this was a miracle answer to prayer (for an 11-year-old child). This was a temporary blessing, since it was only for a few hours. All Angela wants is to be reunited with her family within a home environment. Please pray that all the children can be reunified with their mom. In the meantime, we continue to love, pray, and serve all the children at this facility, as well as, all of our other locations too. 

Hospital #17 – “You Saved Us!”

Most of our work with children are in orphanages and/or facilities for disabled children, like in Angela’s facility in the testimony above. Almost all of the kids are old enough to attend our Bible lessons, crafts, and game time. However, there is one location where we have worked for about 14 years, which is within hospital #17 (in Ukraine, these hospitals don’t always have names for their locations, just numbers). 

 

In this location, we love and invest in kids that range from newborn/infants to five years old, who have been abandoned by their families for one reason or another. The children are so young, that they have no comprehension of who we are and why we do what we do. There usually are not many kids here – usually between one and six kids at any given time. 

Our aim, as Christians, is to love them by changing their diapers/clothes, feeding them, etc. As you may be aware, babies need love and care early in life, so they do not have long term emotional and developmental problems. Our desire is to work with them at the most basic level: loving them, caressing them, playing with them, taking them for walks, and caring for them, as much as we are allowed to do so by the government, so they can develop normally. We regularly purchase supplies (food, diapers, etc.) for these kids, which allows us to continue to serve in this location.

One day, before heading to the hospital, Lilya (our SCM partner in the photo above) went to the store to purchase supplies for the kids. Lilya was going to buy cereal for the children, when all of a sudden, the Lord heavily impressed upon her heart, “buy formula.” This sounded odd, because the hospital was supposed to purchase those types of food items. But the thought would not depart Lilya’s mind, so she obediently, she purchased the formula, only to find out when she arrived at the hospital, that they had no formula to feed an infant that was admitted that morning. The hospital staff was very concerned prior to Lilya appearing. When Lilya arrive, the nurse kept repeating over and over, “You have saved us! Youhave just saved us!” Apparently, the hospital was unprepared for this newborn child, had no formula to feed the baby, and the hospital had no money to purchase food for three more days, which where were critical for the baby’s survival. 

 

Apparently, the child was crying non-stop from starvation and the nurse in charge was near a breakdown in tears, because did have the ability to feed the child. In America, we think, “Well, why don’t you just go and buy the formula yourself?” However, in Ukraine, the formula would have cost the nurses equal to her entire salary for the day. She wasn’t rich herself and she could not afford to purchase it from her own resources. After Lilya left, she unequivocally believed that our Lord had spoken to her to save this newborn child.

Lisa’s Joy

Today, I would like to introduce you to an orphan named Lisa, who is 10 or 11 years old. She has as a younger sister named Ira who stays in a different orphanage. Both of these children have been living in orphanages for over half their lives. Lisa is a very nice and kind-hearted girl, who always runs up to us and hugs us as soon as we enter the kids’ room. She always puts a smile on our faces.

 

By the time this prayer letter reaches you, Lisa and her sister will have been placed in a foster home and the two siblings will have been reunited, praise the Lord! When we talked with Lisa and asked  about her journey to the orphanage, she always seemed reluctant to talk about biological parents; apparently it is a very painful subject for her, so we decided not to push her beyond her comfort zone. The last thing we want to do is cause undue emotional harm. Our hope is Lisa’s new foster family will be a blessing and show Lisa and her sister much needed love and care. 

 

When we ministered to Lisa over the years, she always loved our Bible lessons and activities. And when we had our Easter celebration at the orphanage, Lisa prayed to receive Christ in her heart!  Lilya, our SCM team member, was teaching the children about the resurrection of Jesus and how he appeared to Mary shortly after his resurrection. Lisa’s reaction to the story was very precious and memorable: she was very attentive, beamed a large smile with eyes as big a saucers, and convey absolute joy about the resurrection of Jesus. Her positive reaction to the story became infectious for us and the kids. She was so touched by the resurrection story, Lisa couldn’t wait to give her life to Christ. And on this particular day, Lisa’s response gave everyone a living hope in Christ – it was a wonderful Easter celebration. We are excited that heaven will be awaiting for beautiful little girl some day. Please pray she will continue to grow in her faith.

Another ministry we have, which is a very unique ministry, (that I have never shared with you until now) is a special ministry to hurting mom’s and kids. It is a safe house for single mothers and their children, who have found themselves in a very difficult situation, due to poverty, abuse, etc. 

The shelter is run by the Catholic church and because we are an evangelical mission agency, we asked lots of questions and received SCM board approval before serving at this location. In a nutshell, we decided to serve here, because of several reasons: The mothers and kids truly needed encouragement, counseling, and spiritual teaching; and, the directors of this site allowed us to fully teach the Bible from our evangelical Christian perspective. We saw this is an opportunity to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to those, who perhaps haven’t had much exposure to our theological perspectives. 

 

We have been serving these women and children for a couple of years now and it has been a blessing to them, as well as, our team. This is a unique ministry because of how we serve both the children and the struggling mothers. It has been a blessed time of hearing their stories, providing hope, and pointing them to our Lord Jesus. As always, our little ministry is doing whatever we can to exalt Christ.

Longing for God to Anastasia's Heart

While many children/orphans who attend our Bible classes are engaged, joyful, and excited about our visits, there is one child that has caught our attention - her name is Anastasia. She differs from all the children in that she quietly sits in the class and “never smiles or engages us,” even when we play fun games. She very rarely wants to participate in any of our activities, and by the rare chance that she does agree to engage us, she never smiles! We encourage her to smile, learn, and play, like all the other children, but each time she responds by turning away without any explanation; she just shuts us out completely.

 

When we came the orphanage administration to discover why Anastasia was always so unhappy and distant, they explained to us with great sorrow that this child had to experience what most children never have to deal with at such a tender young age.

 

Anastasia was born into a very poor, dysfunctional family, where partying and drinking were a regular, if not daily occurrence. Her mother placed partying above all other activities, including parenting, caring, and loving Anastasia. No one truly knows what she saw or experienced, but I am sure it was not good or wholesome. Only God knows the abuse she also endured.

 

We were told that one day, out of the blue, Anastasia’s mother decided to abandon the family and left Nastya with her father (they were not officially married and just lived together). Anastasia’s mother completely left, leaving no trace of her whereabouts. The Ukrainian Social Services Department investigated her disappearance, but couldn’t find Anastasia’s mother anywhere, so she lost all her parental rights and Anastasia has become a ward of the state. Anastasia’s father chose not to provide for her, so she was placed in the orphanage and that is how we made her acquaintance. Sometimes her father comes to see her, but it is unknown if this help or hurts Anastasia’s emotional state.

We can only imagine how traumatized this little girl is by her life circumstances. Maybe she is upset that her mom left her and she doesn’t understand the abandonment; maybe she is traumatized by everything she experienced. Whatever is going on in this little girl’s heart and mind, it is evident that her mother never gave her the love and attention each child needs. Most other orphans we have served have at least a few good moments of laughter, joy, and memories of former parents, but Anastasia has share none with us. She remains distant, disengaged, sad, and we are having a difficult time connecting with her at any level.

 

While this isn’t a testimony with a joyful outcome, it is the reality of our ministry. We are asking you to please pray for this little girl to meet Jesus, be adopted by a loving Christian family, and experience the love and joy that each child deserves. We will continue to pay special attention to this little girl, and we look forward to the day we can see her laugh and smile - but only God will be able to open this little girl’s heart.

 

I know each of you love your children and I thank God that you invest so much of your time with them. Your kids are blessed to have you as their parents! Please also pray for SCM employees, Vova, Lilly, and Anya, who all serve in this area of our ministry. Thank you for always blessing us and our ministry; we try hard with little!

Abandoned And Wandered For Food

Galya is a fourteen year old orphan who was admitted to the orphanage with her brothers. Her older brother Vova is sixteen years old and her younger brother Misha is eleven years old. Unlike Tanya, whose father is an alcoholic, Gayla’s parents didn’t care about her and her siblings at all. Her irresponsible parents didn’t provide love, care, or attention to the children.

Galya’s house was a constant mess and her parents never fed the children. Because the kids were on the brink of starvation, Galya and her brothers would roam the streets in search for food, skip school, and try to survive any way they could each day. Finally, the school authorities contacted social services, who took the children to 

the orphanage, so they could have hot food, warm shelter, education, and a place of safety.

The parents were deprived of parental rights, but were given an opportunity by the government to change their ways and bring their children home. It has been more than a year and still no attempt from the parents to communication, visit, or try to engage their children has been made. Despite everything that has happened, Galya and her siblings want to go home, but clearly, they are unwanted and unloved children by their parents. Galya reminds me of Isaiah 49:15, which says, “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!”

When we first met Galya, she was a reserved and unfriendly girl and didn’t want to speak or interact with our ministry. Initially, Galya didn’t show any concern during our visits, but over the passage of time, she has blossomed and is now very interested in the Bible and the salvation message. After about a year of ministering and loving her, she accepted Jesus and has begun a prayer life to our Lord.

Galya doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, but she has discovered the meaning in life – by having a personal relationship with Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. If God touches your heart, please pray for Galya and all the children to turn to Jesus, be protected by him in the orphanage and so they will never be trafficked by evil people in the future. We can bless them while in the orphanage, but after they depart, they are very vulnerable.

Looking Backward To Rushing Forward

Tanya is eleven years old. She grew up in a large family with other five other brothers and sisters. Her family is very disadvantaged because her father is an alcoholic who killed another man and is currently serving a life sentence in prison. Because Tanya’s mother was unable to support all the children by herself, Tanya was delivered to the orphanage and abandoned by her mother.

When our ministry first met Tanya, she was very reserved, unsociable, and cried continuously. She was a disturbed and a very moody child because of her emotional trauma. At any given moment, she would burst into laughter (when we were around) and the very next moment her laughter would turn into uncontrollable 

tears for no apparent reason.

During our initial classes in the orphanage, Tanya would sit with her back towards us and didn’t express any desire to listen to or learn about our Bible lessons. We tried continuously to reach this little girl, but nothing we attempted positively influenced this very distraught child. Therefore, we allowed her to open up to us in her own timing (if ever at all). By God’s grace she eventually began to share with us her feelings and fears.

Once trust between us was established, we prayed with her regularly and her violent mood swings began to dissipate. She is still learning how to control her temper, but with God’s help, our guidance, and teaching her biblical truths, we are seeing positive progress. Now she looks forward to our classes and rushes to meet us at the door every time we come to teach the children. She eagerly helps us with our lesson preparation and loves every Bible story! Tanya continues to hope and pray that her family will reunite with her once again. If you could pray for Tanya and her family, we would deeply appreciate it.

30 Amazing Christmas Gifts

“While serving in the children’s orphanages, our worker’s share different Bible stories with the kids (the stories were mostly from the Gospels). Using these stories we explain to the children about Jesus, who he is, why he was born, why Jesus died on the cross of our sins, and how he was resurrected from the grave. But the most special time of sharing with the kids is Christmas and Easter.

It is a special time with much anticipation and prayer because these are the two events when we are allowed to offer salvation to the kids in these governmental run orphanages. After building relationships and investing in these beautiful children for almost an entire year, their tender hearts are open and many kids accept Jesus as their Savior every year. This year was no exception!

We bought candy and distributed Christian literature to all the children. We went to visit the boys’ group first. We began our lesson, described the birth of Christ and the meaning of Christmas. They listened very attentively and some teenagers who already knew the story and helped explain the story to those unaware of the Good News of the Christmas story. It was evident that this Christmas outreach deeply touched every boy’s heart.

At the very end of the teaching and before our celebration time, we asked the children who would like to thank Jesus for his birth and also ask for their salvation, which is the ultimate gift Jesus would like from them this year. Most of the boys prayed to Jesus with sincere hearts. Our joy was immeasurable and we have no expectation that so many would turn to Jesus!

We then visited the girls’ group and shared the same Christmas story. Again, we expected a few to turn to Christ, but it was the same result as with the boy’s – almost every girl prayed to accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior!

On that day about 30 children prayed to accept Jesus as Savior and Lord; 30 amazing Christmas gifts that blessed us and turned to Christ for salvation. It was a joyful site to behold. The joy of Christmas filled the orphanage and that the holiday wasn’t just another event on the calendar, but a very momentous occasion that they will long remember. They realized that Jesus was born and died for their sins, he was a heavenly gift for them, and each one of them could feel that they weren’t abandoned in this cruel world. I believe that Jesus will remain close to them, after experience this amazing day!”

Renata’s Redemption

Renata is 16 years old girl who was transferred to the orphanage in August of 2015. Renata’s parents were deprived of their parental rights because of being severe alcoholics and not able to keep employment to provide for their daughter. For a long time, Renata lived in a small one-room apartment with her parents, but due to their neglect of her, she was often starving and cold, while her mother would cheat on her husband with many men in front of her. 

In the first two months of living at the orphanage, Renata tried to run away three times, not realizing that she would be taken better care of by the government than her own family. Vova (our SCM employee) spoke with Renata, shared the Gospel message of salvation, and tried to convince her that Jesus would love her and transform her life. Renata gave her heart to Jesus. Renata’s father died from alcohol and she didn’t want to return to her mother, so she began to pray about being adopted by a foster family. Three weeks later, a foster family expressed their desire to adopt her. It was a real miracle for her! At the time of this testimony, the necessary documents for adoption were being processed; she should be adopted by now. During the time we ministered to her, Renata intently listened to our Biblical lessons with great joy and anticipation. Her story is a story of salvation and redemption. Please keep this tender teenager in your prayers; there is still much to overcome.

Disabled Orphans

As I mentioned that I minister to disabled orphans. One time, I went to visit these children and I met a girl named Vika. I discovered that it was her birthday, but no one had done anything to celebrate her birthday, so I took the initiative and went to the store to buy her a cake, some food, party hats, a few presents, and played games with all the kids. I was surprised that the kids were not more attentive, but the regular workers told me not to worry, because for “these kids” it was an amazing day that they will remember for some time to come. I just wish I could do more for them all!

Another time, I met a 17 year old disabled orphan named Lena. She is in very bad shape, physically speaking. Because of problems with her legs and spinal column, she can only lie on her stomach because her body is very twisted.

Lena’s long term desire was to have her own bedspread. When we visited her on her birthday, we were able to give her what she always wanted, her special bedspread, along with some flowers and food. Many of the other children pleaded with us to come back for their birthdays too and one girl in a wheelchair asked me to hold her hand for over an hour.

After visiting Vika, Lena, and the other disabled orphans, I am so thankful that my own child is healthy. It is a very hard ministry, but I thank God for allowing me to be used to shine his light and love these kids to the best of my ability, no matter how inadequate I feel in making a long term solution for them.

Another orphan named Illya wanted me to provide his testimony for everyone. Here is his story:

“Hello, my name is Ilya and I was born in a large family of eight children. I am 14 years old. My parents are both alcoholics and used to fight a lot in my home. I ran away from home a few times because of all of their arguments and sometimes they beat me. I eventually came to the orphanage because some adults thought it was in my best interest to be here. It is better than living on the streets, because here I am able to have food, shelter, and clean clothes. I met Lada (SCM worker) and other Christians at the orphanage and they have taught me much about how much Jesus loves me. I believe these Christians really do care about me, because my own family hasn’t seen me since I have been here. I really enjoy the Bible lessons and reading the Bible. My family may not want me and I don’t know what my future holds, but I know I will be OK, as long as I walk with God.”

From the Koran to Christ

Lena and Valya are two sisters who were admitted into the orphanage in October 2015. They grew up in a troubled family. Their father is from Azerbaijan and apparently works as a long-distance truck driver. Their mother is an adulteress who has had many relationships outside of her marriage. These girls had to endure many days hunger because they were forgotten and abandoned, as a result of their mother’s lifestyle and their father’s absence.

Lena, who is the older sister (in the photo on page one), couldn’t bear their living condition any longer and decided to run away from home. She stayed with her friends and sometimes lived on the streets. Valya (who is pictured on the left), is the younger sister who remained at home until the police arrived and took her away from her mother. In an effort to remain with her sister, Lena chose to go to the police station to be reunited with Valya. The girls were immediately sent to the orphanage, where our team met them.

At first Lena didn’t really want to listen to our Bible lessons, stating that she read the Koran and didn’t want to hear about Jesus. With the passage of time, the Holy Spirit softened her heart, and she became more open and attentive to our Bible lessons and about the saving work of Jesus Christ. Eventually, Lena along with other girls prayed the prayer of salvation. After one of our lessons, Lena asked our team if we would bring her the New Testament and the book of Psalms. Her friends also asked us to provide them Bibles, so we made sure that every girl that wanted a Bible received one. Now many of these girls read their Bibles regularly.

This has made us very happy, because the girls listen to our lessons and now can study and ask each other questions throughout the week too. Our ministry team has truly enjoyed ministering to these children.

Lena and Valya don’t want to return to their mom and their previous lifestyle. They dream about the new foster family. The girls started to pray about it and ask other people to pray for them as well. They believe that God can change their lives for the better. If you are willing, please pray for these two girls to be adopted.

People Are Stealing To Get These Devices!

Maksim is a 10 year old boy from a village outside of the city of Kharkov. He has a younger sister named Yulechka, who is 3 years old. They were both were admitted to the orphanage because their mom is very sick and there is no one to care for them, while she is hospitalized.

 

Their father abandoned the family a long time ago and there is no extended family to care for the children. Apparently, the family is very poor, but their mother has done her best to provide for her children. Maksim and Yulechka have been in the orphanage for two months, waiting for their mother’s health to improve.

Maksim was so delighted to receive the audio Bible that he carried it with him wherever he went and always listed to the Bible stories. He especially loved the stories about Jesus’ life. Our staff was pleasantly surprised with how quickly he memorized everything he heard; every time we visited their orphanage, Maksim already knew much about our teaching and he was an active participant in our discussions. Many times he has been able to fill in small details of each Bible story from listening to his audio device.

The last time we met Maksim, his eyes were full of tears because it turned out that someone stole his audio device when he was out of his room. He was so saddened that he no longer had the ability to listen to the Old Testament and New Testament stories. We tried to encourage him by gifting him with a children’s book entitled “Bible Stories,” but this book is more suitable for younger children, like his little sister. Maksim really missed his audio player!!! We were going to ask if Slavic Christian Ministries’ partners would purchase another device for Maksim, but thankfully, the director found out who the thief was and returned the device to Maksim!

Reaching An Entire Family For God!

“Hi, my name is Bogdan and I am 16 years old. I live in this children’s sanatorium with many other kids because I have a blood vessel disorder called vasoneurosis. I want to thank everyone in America for blessing me with this gift. I always enjoy when Slavic Christian Ministries visits me and shares biblical truths with me. I was so surprised and delighted to receive this audio device; I began listening to the Bible stories immediately. I never knew anything like this device existed!

After receiving this gift, I enjoyed listening to the Bible stories on occasion, but as time has passed, it has now become my most frequent and favorite pastime activity. I have learned more about God and his son Jesus than ever beforehand. It is amazing to learn that God sent his son Jesus to earth to save everyone, including me!

Whenever, I am given the opportunity to visit my home to see my family (Bogdan is living within an orphan medical center), I played the device so loud that everyone in the room could hear the Gospel message of Jesus. My mom listened the most and eventually she asked me, ‘Where did you get this device?’ I replied, ‘Christians who visit us every week at my sanatorium gave it to me as a gift!’

Because of my mom’s interest, we eventually began listening to the Bible stories together. And later on, when I wasn’t using the device, she listened to the stories by herself. She has a natural interest in God and is so happy to hear about who Jesus is and in his divine plan of salvation. After my mom began listening, my dad and my sister also joined in to listen to the Bible stories too. This audio device has surprisingly become the preacher for our family and me! They now know that God has a profound love for them. Thank you so much for blessing my family and me.” – Bogdan

Ira’s Testimony

Ira is 17 years old girl who was born with a serious disease within her legs and hips. Her mother took care of her at home until she was five years old, but her abusive alcoholic father physically abused Ira’s mother so bad one night that she died of internal injuries. Eventually, Ira was sent to this orphanage, because no other family had the ability to take care of her.

Because of her medical condition, Ira is unable to lay on her back. For the remainder of her life, she must rest on her stomach or herside. Ira is very modest, grateful, and tender. She has a beautiful soul and character. She loves people and is open to everyone. Ira is now in a nursing home (since she is 17 years old). Because of her medical condition she needs 24 hour care.

 

Here dream is to have a family and a dog.  When Lada asked her a few questions, like, “Who is Jesus?” She replied, “He was killed on the cross.” Ira was not brought up in a Christian family, so she knew nothing about our Lord Jesus except for the fact. Lada and others have helped explain to Ira the way to salvation, and she listened very carefully and replied that she had never heard the gospel message beforehand and was now looking forward to learning more about Christ. She mentioned that the nurses at the nursing home never speak about Jesus, Christianity, or anything spiritual, so her only exposure to Jesus would be through Christians visiting her and always looks forward to more conversations about Jesus. Please keep Ira in your prayers, with Iya and Sheznaya!

Iya’s Story

Like Sheznaya, Iya Chasnyk (Ukrainian for “garlic”) was born and abandoned in the maternity ward of the hospital on November 18th, 2002, in the city of Dnepropetrovsk. And similar to Sheznaya, Iya was transferred to this same orphanage at the age of four. She has never met her parents.

Unfortunately, Iya’s physical condition is worse than Sheznaya’s, because she can’t walk at all. She has the ability to crawl on her knees, but she is unable to use her legs – she is mostly bound to a wheelchair. She is very sweet and outgoing, and has the respect from the other orphan girls. She is very talented and has a beautiful singing voice, where she has even won a talent competition.

She also enjoys learning and memorizing Bible stories. Her favorite story is about Joseph and his brothers. She once remarked, “Joseph was very blessed because he had so many brothers, a father and a mother.” This statement reveals how much Iya (and all orphan kids) want to have their own family. Her dream is to have her own home and a TV. She realizes she will never have the opportunity to travel with her physical condition, so she is doing her best to learn as much as she can about the world. She loves to study!

She remains hopeful, but like Sheznaya, she will most likely move to a nursing home when she turns 17 years old. Please continue to pray for Iya’s faith, growth in the Lord, and that she remains hopeful.

Snezhana’s Story

Snezhana Tsapkovataya (Ukrainian for “snow”) was born on March 30th in 2002, and was left in the maternity ward of the hospital by her mother – abandoned and unwanted. When Snezhana was approximately one month old, she was transferred to the orphanage named, “The House of Babies.” Snezhana lived there for four years before transferring to the orphanage where Lada began ministering to her. Unfortunately, Snezhana has never met her parents. Despite not having her own family, she is thankful to be in this orphanage where she has many friends and kind nurses – she considers them her family.

 

Snezhana is very friendly and joyful girl, considering her life circumstances. She is very artistic, likes music classes, and learning mathematics. She does have a walking disability, but she enjoys her physical therapy and can still walk independently. She doesn’t get to leave her orphanage very often, but when she grows up she would like to be a psychologist. Like all children, she would like to be married and have her own family. But unfortunately, Lada believes that because of her disability, when she turns 17, she will be placed into a Ukrainian nursing home and may be there for the rest of her life, barring a miracle from God. So, we need to remember Snezhana in our prayers.

 

This past June 30th, Lada and a couple other volunteers celebrated Snezhana’s birthday and gave her a special party with gifts and cake. She felt very blessed. With Lada’s absence in the future, the other Christian volunteers will continue to speak to Sheznaya about Jesus. She is open to the gospel message, listens intently, and asks probing questions. Hopefully, it is just a matter of time before she comes to the Lord. Please pray for her salvation and that she will accept the Lord soon.

Yulia Gets To Go Home!

“My name is Yulia and I am 13 years old. The government took me away from my Dad and since then, I have lived in many orphanages. I want to live with my dad, but the government won’t let me go back to him. It makes me very sad and I am overwhelmed and scared that I will not be able to go home ever again. Since being taken away from my dad, I was able to live with three different foster families, but for some reason, they always sent me back to the orphanage. Of course, this made me sad and angry too. Why can’t I go home?

Pastor Vova (our SCM director) spoke with me in trust God in my situation and he prayed with me that a miracle would happen and that I would be able to go home to my dad.”

I have more good news to report – since receiving this testimony, the government changed their mind and they have allowed Yulia to go home to her dad! All she wanted in life was to be reunited with her father and God answered pastor Vova’s prayer! I don’t know what happened with her home situation and where her mother is located, but I thank God she gets to go home to her father!

Sonya Beats The Odds!

“My name is Sonya. I am fifteen years old and I grew up without parents, at least I don’t remember them at all. I lived with two foster families for a while, but they returned me to the orphanage. I guess I couldn’t get along with them. I have lived in an orphanage for many years, but my dream is to one day enter a University and have a good future. But I also dream about having a new foster family or adoptive family; I want to be part of a family so much. Please pray for me.” —  Sonya

Sonya is a very intelligent girl, but honestly, most children who are adopted in Ukraine are younger children. When Sonya was saying that she still wanted to be adopted at fifteen years of age, when there were many younger orphans all around her, our team wasn’t very hopeful for Sonya, statistically speaking. But as you know, there is always a hope and a future when God is involved!

I am pleased to report that since we have received this testimony, Sonya has been adopted – a small miracle, considering her age! I don’t know if she ever accepted Christ, but thank God that our heavenly Father knew the heart of this child and gave her what she longed for and what we often take for granted.

Sasha’s Testimony

Hello, my name is Sasha. I am thirteen years old and I came to the orphanage because my dad was killed (a long time ago) and my mom is an alcoholic and she was not taking care of me. She would often bring her friend’s home to drink while I was in my room. Her friends made me scared and insecure and then something horrible happened …

One of my mom’s friends killed her when I was at home. The man was sent to prison, but I lost all the family that I had and I was sent to this orphanage. All I want is my family back. I have a 21 year old brother, but the government won’t give me over to him. My dream is to be adopted by a family and get out of this orphanage.

I like the Bible stories that Ms. Ira and Mr. Vova teach us. The flannel board really helps me understand the bible stories much better.

Friends, Sasha is very open to the Gospel and we pray that Sasha and Alyona will both accept Jesus as Savior!

If you have been following us for a while, what we provide with our orphan ministry is Christian education and love, until God moves these precious souls to their adopted families or until the Ukrainian government transfers them away from one of the places where we minister. Some make professions of faith and some do not, but we show the love of Christ to all kids, letting them know they are loved!

Alyona’s Testimony

Hi, My name is Alyona and I am thirteen years old. I grew up in a large family and lived in a Ukrainian village. We were very poor. My dad had to go to prison, and I am sad that he eventually died in prison. If it wasn’t bad enough to lose my dad, my mom died of cancer two years ago. We were scared and in shock and we went to live with my grandma, but because she was an alcoholic, I was sent to this orphanage. Thankfully, my brothers and sisters are older and they are able to stay with my grandmother, but I was sent away.

Since being in this orphanage, I have met Christians, like those in your ministry. I have enjoyed learning Bible lessons and I have begun reading my Bible. Recently, I have learned to pray and I have been praying that God would give me a foster family!

I am pleased to report that since this testimony, God heard Alyona’s prayers and a she has been sent to a foster family! Please pray that this family will be good to Alyona, have pure motives, and will adopt her permanently.

Denis’ Triple Disappointments

At the time that we met Denis Smirnov, he was a handsome six year old boy; he is now about 8 years old. He was an only child, who was dearly loved by his mother, until her untimely death because of an inflamed liver. Sadly, Denis’ mother passed away when he was four years old and she was only 32 years old. The only other family member that Denis had was a very old grandmother, who had the in¬ability to care for him. Therefore, Denis was placed in the Krasnakutsk orphanage, where the government often places young orphan children.

Sadly, the story does not improve for you or Denis. During one of his medical examinations, the doctor discovered a tumor in Denis’ head, apparently there is an illness in his body that may have caused this tumor. It was decided by the medical community that they would not do the surgery while the tumor remained dormant. Unfortunately, it did NOT remain dormant. He had his surgery and was moved to another orphanage somewhere else. Because the government does not give out that information, we have no idea where he was moved.

There was a Canadian family who was naturally attracted to Denis and wanted to adopt him, but once they discovered his medical condition, they stopped the adoption process and passed on him as a member of their family. Apparently, they did not want to go through the heartache of seeing Denis eventually deteriorate, since they were told that he may not live past his 30th birthday. Of course, this had a traumatic effect on Denis.

Denis’s has a tragic storyline: his mother died, a brain tumor was discovered, and a possible adoption into a loving family was halted. Young Denis has had triple disappointments that no one should have to bear in life, much less, before one’s seventh birthday!

Please pray for Denis, his health, his encouragement, and his eternal destiny, since we cannot minister to him anymore. As a ministry, all we can now do is pray for him. Please join us in praying for Denis; I feel very bad about this child and personally, I feel helpless concerning this child.

You Never Know Who You Will Meet In A Ukrainian Orphanage

When our ministry was serving in the orphanage, our team came across an African young man named, Kriss. Here is his story:

Hello, my Name is Kriss Vivein. I am 17 years old. I use to live in the country of Cote d’Ivoire, which is a small African country, with a population of approximately 21 millions people.

I receive Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior about three years ago. My mom is Christian and we had our church service in our home when I accepted Jesus as my personal Savior.

During that period of time, there was a civil war in my country, so my sister and I escaped from our country in an effort to save our lives. My sister escaped to Italy, but I could not join her because the Italian government closed door for refugees before I could join her. Thankfully, the Ukrainian government was open to me coming to Ukraine.

I knew nothing about this country, but I had to escape from my country for to save my life.

Now that I am in Ukraine, I have been living in an orphanage, because there are problems with my legal documents. So far everything is well, I have place to sleep, I have a food, and I have clothing, but the most important a peaceful sky above my head. I can freely read Bible and pray to God.

Since being in Ukraine, I have not met any Christians, except the workers with Slavic Christian Ministries. I was glad to meet them and to discover that they come weekly to my orphanage and conduct Bible lessons. It reminds me one more time that God keeps everything in his control. I will soon depart this orphanage and find a Christian church, but I am pleased that during this transition, God brought me these servants of our Lord Jesus. – Kriss Vivein

 

Since Kriss’ testimony, he was released from the orphanage, visited a Christian church in Kharkov, but has since disappeared from our lives. All we can assume is somehow, the Lord opened the door for Kriss to join his sister in Italy. But you never know who you are going to meet in our ministry endeavors.

Baby Daniel and Sister Awaiting Mom’s Health

Besides serving within orphanages, Slavic Christian Ministries also serves in the 17th municipal hospital, where the government sends abandoned children from 3 months old to 3 years old of age. This is where kids come, while the government decides their future placement. Of course, we don’t teach Bible lessons to these ages, but we show compassion, love and care!

This testimony is about Daniel and his sister (we don’t know her name), who was born into a normal family, but after his mother gave birth to her second child (a girl who Ira is holding in the photo, I believe), she started to suffer from postpartum depression. Daniel’s father was working long hours and was unable to help Daniel or the family, while the mom was battling her depression. Unfortunately, there were no other family members who could intercede and help out in the home with the children, so the government took the children until mom’s mental health would improve. Both Daniel and his sister (who was still breast feeding) were in the same hospital.

The children’s future remained really vague for a long time; everything depended on their mom’s ability to recover from depression. If she was unable to become stable, the children would have been sent to an orphanage. After a long time of concern, I am pleased to report that the mom improved, Daniel and his sister returned home to their parents and are doing much better. Thankfully, our Lord allowed our team the privilege of loving and helping these kids during a critical time in their young developmental lives.

Not Easter Eggs, But Easter Fruit (Kingdom Fruit)

Praise God for the Lord’s mercy and grace upon our ministry to orphans! At Easter, more kids accepted Jesus as their Savior at Saltavka orphanage. This is our orphanage where children are taken right off of the street, who have been abandoned or ran away from home.

Over the course of the year, we taught and train the kids about Jesus, many biblical stories in the four Gospels, the love of Jesus, his miracles, and explaining the parables, etc. We design our teaching so that we can offer a call to salvation opportunities twice per year (at Christmas and Easter).

But throughout the year, we are educating the kids, teaching them, loving on them, and trying to make each lesson inspiring and relevant for them in their lives.

At Easter, we of course, spoke about Jesus and the purpose of his death on the cross and what it meant to their lives. I am pleased to report that after much time and investment 12 kids accepted Jesus as their Savior for the first time!

Orphans in Ukraine

It is reported that Ukraine has over 100,000 orphans. Of these children, only 10% of them are orphaned due to the death of a parent. The remaining 90% are social orphans due to alcoholism, abandonment, or imprisonment of parents. Here are some disturbing facts:

* Every year, more than 2,000 mothers abandon their babies in maternity hospitals. Between 6 and 7 thousand more are abandoned at an older age or removed from home due to crime or neglect.
* Many social orphans have experienced abuse and violence from parents who were drug addicts or alcoholics.
* Orphans typically grow up in large state-run homes, which may house over 200 children.
* Many children run away from these homes, preferring to live on the street.
* Children usually graduate from these institutions between 15 and 16 years old and are turned out, unprepared for life outside the home.
* About 10% of them will commit suicide after leaving the orphanage before their 18th birthday.
* 60% of the girls will end up in prostitution. Those who run prostitution rings target orphaned girls, who are especially vulnerable due to their lack of options and lack of people who care what happens to them. Though promised good jobs, they end up on the streets and brothels of cities across Europe.
* 70% of the boys will enter a life of crime.

Slavic Christian Ministries invests our time and resources into hundreds of orphans in five locations. The need to reach these kids is very great. To learn more, please review some of our past press releases below.

Anastasia’s Story

As you may know, one of our main outreach ministries is to orphans. We love them, build into their lives, and teach them about Jesus. Unless you visit Ukraine, the needs of the people are hard to imagine. So I would like you to read about Anastasia’s story (different than the 3 year-old I spoke much about in past letters). She is an orphan that may help you understand the struggle that children have in Ukraine. Here is her story:

Dear friends,

Thank you for allowing me to tell you my testimony. Before I came to this orphanage, I lived with my mom and stepfather in my home. I love my mom very much, but unfortunately, both of my parents are alcoholics. When they were drunk they would frequently beat me physically. Because I was scared for my life, I ran away from home. And because I had nowhere to go, I came to this orphanage to see if they would help me. That let me stay here, and I am happy that they accepted me. The children are nice to me, and now no one hurts me.

After I came here I became a Christian because of your ministry’s outreach to me. When your team would come to visit us, I would come to your lessons and learn about the Bible, play games with you, make crafts, and enjoy listening to many different Bible stories. It is through your teaching that I discovered that God really loves me, and that I can pray to him at anytime. Recently, I have been praying that God would restore my relationship with my mom, and I am beginning to see God answer a few of my prayers.

I also began praying for my friend named Anya. I met her in this orphanage. Unfortunately, Anya was brought here after her mom died. I am sad to hear her story because her dad and brother did not want to take care of her. Because they abandoned her she was sent here. She loves them and wants to see them very much, but they have not wanted to come and visit her. This has made her very sad and she has cried a lot about this.

I know this hurts Anya, so I have been praying that her family would visit her. And I am happy to tell you that her brother recently visited her and brought her some candy and cookies. I was so happy for Anya because she loves her family very much. I know that God can help Anya and give her the answers she needs.

Thank you for building into our lives and visiting us regularly. Please come again soon. We are waiting for you, and we love you. - Anastasia

Friends, Anastasia’s testimony is a heartwarming story of a life that we have touched through our ministry. And we thank God that he is using SCM to change a few lives because of your partnership with us. But the 300 or so orphans that we minister to regularly is nothing compared to the unimaginable number of orphans and neglected children in Ukraine.

Please remember to pray for all of us at SCM, and for all the people we are trying to minister to through our orphans ministry. Thank you for everything! We love you and hope you have a good Christmas!

Ron Putnam

Desperate for Security and Love

We are very pleased to report that 113 adults and children made commitments to Christ through SCM’s various ministries (preaching, English Evangelism courses, theology courses, orphan ministry, and short-term missionaries). It was our most fruitful year since we began our mission six and a half years ago. Since our inception, we have ministered to over 1600 people regularly, and 352 people have made commitments to Jesus Christ. Praise God!

Inside this letter is one of many events that happened this summer. Over the next few months, I will provide you with a few more inspiring stories that came to pass through our ministry.

This past June, a young teenage girl had been taken from her home when I noticed her at Saltavka Children’s Shelter. If my facts are accurate, her mother died, and her father was either neglecting and/or beating her physically. The situation became so bad that her neighbors called the police, which began the process of separating her from her father and delivering her to the children’s shelter, where our missionaries met her for the first time.

While I am sure she disliked her home environment, you could see that she hated living in this shelter too. She wasn’t hardened like so many other street children, but had innocence to her. It seemed as if she really wasn’t supposed to be an orphan, but uncontrollable events caught her in a nightmare situation where there is no immediate escape. Perhaps her life is

permanently changed.

One day, a missionary named Kelly and myself delivered pizzas to this shelter, so the children would have a moment of joy during the day. After the children were done eating, we were going to play with the kids in the playground for a brief period of time, but our schedule necessitated that we change our plans and travel to another location.

As we were leaving, this same teenage girl thrust her arm through the barred windows and grasped Kelly’s arm. Her face was filled with tears, panic, fear, as she expressed a sense of abandonment. The message she was conveying was unmistakable – don’t leave me here alone. I need you!

Because she was locked inside the orphanage, the only thing we were able to do was calm her down by promising her that our team would be back again tomorrow. It gave her limited peace.

Sadly, she will most likely be transported somewhere else inside Ukraine very soon (if it hasn’t happened already), and I never knew her name. She did nothing wrong, but she is caught in a horrific situation.

This child is a glaring example of the growing problem inside Ukraine. Not all children are orphans (by definition of having no mother and father), but tragically, many children who reside in shelters and orphanages are neglected or abused children. All they want is to have a normal home life and to be loved. But barring a miracle, this will never happen for the majority of these children.

Please pray for all the children in these orphanages. Pray for their salvation, mental and physical health, and that someday all these children will be adopted by Christian families. They all have a story to tell, and they all need our love. Until then, SCM visits five orphanages regularly, and we try to provide the most basic of their emotional and spiritual needs.

Thank you for your help. God bless you.

Ron Putnam

The Best Christmas Gift of All – Orphans Saved!

SCM employees and several volunteers visited orphans during the Christmas season. They provided a Christmas production and explained the true meaning of Christmas. Everyone had a wonderful time. Local Ukrainian churches and an American church donated gifts for this Christmas celebration.

Besides the joy of the season, I am delighted that God is attracting Ukrainian volunteers to help us in our ministry. I was hoping that God would draw a few helpers. Now more children can receive greater attention and increased individual care. Here is our Ukraine director’s testimony about the celebration:

“Today we had our Christmas service at Saltavka orphanage. There were about 45-50 children in attendance. Volunteers from church prepared a very good Christmas program for the kids. It lasted for about two hours and we had a Christmas performance, games, we joked around.

 

At the end, I gave a small sermon and asked children to accept Jesus as their Savior. I am pleased to report that more than half of the kids gave their heart to Jesus. Lena and I then departed Saltavka Orphanage and traveled to Harmony Orphanage were we delivered Christmas gifts that we received from Americans. It was a wonderful day!” – Vova Yevsukov

Please continue to pray for the kid’s salvation and for our staff’s stressful work environment. We must minister to broken and hurting children, while being politically savvy in our approach to educate and evangelize the children so we don’t offend the secular staff. At any moment we could be excluded from the orphanage and these kids’ lives. There are reports that across Ukraine many Christians are unable to minister within orphanages because of governmental crackdowns. It is very subtle, but it is happening. Thankfully, God’s blessing remains upon our ministry. And thankfully at least 25 children accepted Jesus this Christmas.

 

Perhaps this is the best gift of all!

Ron Putnam

Lydia’s Story

Fifteen dedicated paid and unpaid staff gave their time, effort, and love to about 350 kids over the past year through our orphans ministry. I am delighted to inform you that several Ukrainian Christian businessmen donated supplies and about $500 to an orphanage. For Ukrainians, this was a large gift from God, since they are a developing nation.

Because of your prayers and the dedication of many people who worked with us all year, about 40 children received Christ as Savior. This is especially wonderful news since new governmental regulations have made it increasingly difficult to pray with children in the secular orphanages where we work. But God continues to find creative ways to bless us!

During the year, the kids enjoyed learning about the Bible, as well as interacting, playing games, and making crafts with our staff. The children never wanted our team to leave!

Sometimes I forget how important this orphan ministry is to the kids until God periodically reminds me. One such story concerns a teenage girl named Lydia, who worked with our team over the past year. Here is her story:

“Hello, my name is Lydia. My parents are from Armenia, but I was born here in Ukraine. I am sad to report that my father is a very violent man, and he used to physically beat everyone inside our family. At a very early age, I came to understand that the only person who truly loved me was my mother.

As I grew older, I tried to escape my situation by spending more time with my friends on the streets. I began making friendships with boys and making bad personal decisions. My mother warned me to stay away from these boys because they only wanted to use me for their own entertainment. I didn’t listen to my mom, but she was right—they just used me.

Before I could fully grow up, my mother died. I knew that the only person who truly loved me in my life was gone. I had no one I could rely on in this world. Because I feared my father, I ran away from my home. Eventually, the police found me and brought me to this orphanage. While here, I learned about God and was able to interact with true Christian believers from your ministry.

I built a friendship with them over time, and I have come to learn that they sincerely love me. I was overjoyed to learn that God loves me and that he will never betray me. Because of their help, I have begun praying to God. Very soon I will be transferred to another orphanage and I will not be able to see my friends again. I am sad that there will not be Christians at my new location, but I thank God for my time with my new friends. – Lydia Vasilenko, 15 year old girl.

Dear friends, we are trying our best to reach many people just like Lydia—children and adults alike—who need to experience the love, grace, and forgiveness available in Christ. Many of these kids are transferred to new orphanages every six months, so we do our best to maximize the little time we have with these children.

Ron Putnam

Lena’s Story

This past September, we restarted several ministries, including our weekly involvement with four orphanages. As you may be aware, we work with hundreds of kids, teaching them Bible stories while trying to take care for a few of their practical and emotional needs as well.

Beyond the Bible stories, our teachers also try to instill godly values like internal beauty, forgiveness, love, friendship, and obedience. All of these are important qualities necessary for the orphans’ emotional and spiritual healing.

I can personally attest that our team of vocational staff and volunteers deeply and sincerely love Christ. They appreciate the spiritual rewards that come through this ministry, but they are constantly challenged by the immense needs of these kids. The stories of parental abuse and violence committed against these precious souls are unimaginable. Here is one story:

Hello, my name is Lena. I recently came to this orphanage. I was taken away by the authorities when I was in school. I lived in a village named Petrovski, which is located within the state of Kharkov, Ukraine.

Unfortunately, my mom is an alcoholic. I was living with my grandmother, who had been raising me, until she recently died. My grandmother loved me very much, and I loved her, too. Despite my mom’s difficulties, my grandmother always told me, “Lena, despite the problems with your mom, you should love and respect her.”

Earlier in my life, when I was about four years old, my mother had killed my father while she was drunk. My mom tried to kill me, too. Once, when she was drunk, she stabbed me with a knife. Thankfully, I was able to run away from her before she could hurt me even more.

During many of her drunken times she tried to harm me with the same knife. I now have many scars on my hands from trying to push her away during her drinking episodes. One time she stuck her knife so deep into my leg (just above my knee), that I had to immediately go to the hospital.

Because my mom was unable to care for me, I never had enough food to eat at home. But I never complained, because I remembered my grandmother’s words to me. Instead, I was accustomed to my life, until I was brought to this orphanage.

Now I am excited to eat warm meals, and that I no longer have to go to bed hungry. I have actually begun gaining weight! I have made friends here at the orphanage, and I like going to school once again.

I love my mom, despite her difficulties. I dream that she will stop drinking and take me back home. But I don’t think that will happen. I have learned from many of the other kids here that their story is similar to mine. I don’t think my mom will be cured of her disease.

I am very happy that there are Christians visiting me from Slavic Christian Ministries. They speak about God, pray for me and my mom, and they ask God to heal my mother. Before coming here, I never heard about God, and I never knew that we could pray to him too. – Lena, 10 years old.

I am sad to say that Lena’s story is not unique. Many kids have similar stories. Please continue to pray for all of these children. Pray not only for their healing, but that they will respond to the Gospel message, and accept Jesus as their personal Savior. Please also pray for the spiritual protection and emotional encouragement of our staff.

Ron Putnam

Orphans Accepting Christ!

Family Update

To our joyful surprise, we discovered late last Fall that Katya is pregnant with our third child. We should know the baby’s gender in the very near future. The due date is June 29, 2009.

 

Angels are Dancing!

You may recall our introduction of Lena in our December newsletter. Lena is an orphan girl who was removed from her home due to extreme parental abuse. I am happy to inform you that Lena and 22 other orphans recently accepted Jesus as Savior during one of our outreaches!

Our staff offered the prayer of salvation to these children after investing in their lives for many months. The government often forbids Christians from regularly praying with the kids. So, we work tirelessly in search of opportunities to pray with them – without being permanently thrown out of the orphanage for dissenting with the government.

The SCM team of staff and volunteers were delighted and very thankful to see how God opened the children’s hearts to the gospel. Shortly after they accepted Jesus as Savior, a few of the kids, if not many of them, were relocated to other orphanages across the country. We reached them just in time!

Unfortunately, we don’t have access to these departed children because of distance, and because we now have a new set of kids to reach in this orphanage. Please pray that the children who accepted Jesus and were given Bibles will grow in their faith until our Lord places new Christians in their lives. Their faith is very fragile right now.

Upcoming Dates & Events

I will be travelling back to Ukraine later this month to encourage our staff and review our ministry. I will also be meeting with an advocate for a church in Minneapolis who is joining us to observe our ministry and ministry partners. If all goes well, the advocate’s church may send short-term missionaries to Ukraine in the future. Please pray that God will bless our time together.

I am excited to inform you that my third book, The Way to Righteousness, is currently being printed. You’ll learn more about it in my next newsletter. But generally speaking, the book captures the essence of how we as Christians can grow within the areas of love, grace, humility, faith, forgiveness, obedience, holiness, and joy.

Thank you so much for continuing to give sacrificially to our ministry. We entered December with a deficit of $47,000 – but your generous donations since then have cut our losses in half. Please continue to pray that God will open the hearts of pastors as I travel across America this year, building and deepening our friendships and ministry partnerships. Because of the economy, we just lost another large sponsoring church – the second church within the past two months. Each one of you who prays and gives to our ministry is so special to us. Words cannot express our gratitude!

Ron Putnam

Father’s House Update

I hope you are well. This letter will update you on what’s happening with us and Slavic Christian Ministries!

FAMILY UPDATE

I hope all of you are well. We are anxiously awaiting our third child to be born at the end of June.

This letter will update you on a few of the exciting ways God is blessing people through our ministry. I hope you will enjoy this month’s update.

FATHER’S HOUSE ORPHANAGE UPDATE

Many of you have been praying about the pending court date-which has been going on for over two years now-for Father’s House Christian Orphanage. The final court hearing was held on April 29. The court will render their decision on May 20th. As you may remember, evil businessmen are trying to steal their property so they can profit from the sale of their land.

If their false accusations are validated, then our orphan children who gave their lives to Christ will eventually be separated from this loving home environment and distributed across Ukraine. An unimaginable thought at this moment for everyone involved with the orphanage. Please pray for a miracle decision favoring our kids. It has been a long and arduous journey for the orphanage staff.

Thank you for partnering with me in proclaiming the good news of Jesus Christ to many people. I am sad to report that we are currently down about 35% with our donation receipts. This amount doesn’t include the cost of our child’s birth, which wasn’t factored into our original budget amount. Currently, we are paying all of the costs out of our pocket since we have no insurance to cover the pregnancy.

As you can see, we have many financial needs at this moment. If God touches your heart to help us a bit more, or for the first time, please consider donating towards one of the following needs:

  • Balancing our budget (for our theology and orphans ministry)

  • Reaching Russians with the theological books (distance learning)

  • Helping curb the cost of our child’s birth at the end of June.

We’re extremely grateful for anything that you can do for us and our ministry! Without your generous support, this work would not be done. We appreciate you dearly!

 

Thank you again for praying for Father’s House orphanage too!

Ron Putnam

Blessings Come in 3’s!

I hope all of you are well. This letter will update you on the exciting news regarding some recent events at SCM. I’m confident you’ll enjoy and be encouraged by this month’s update.

BLESSINGS COME IN “3’S”;!

We are clearly experiencing a season of blessing – both in our family and through SCM’s activities within Ukraine. Without a doubt, we have many reasons to celebrate.

Blessing Number 1: Brianna Grace Is Born!

I’m excited to announce that Brianna Grace Putnam (our third child) was born at 3:17 a.m. on July 1! Our beautiful, brown-haired and bluish-gray eyed baby was healthy and Katya is recovering well. What a wonderful gift to our family! She is a happy baby who enjoys eating and sleeping. Big sisters Isabella and Hannah are wonderful little helpers for mom! Please see her photographs on our webpage http://www.facebook.com/ron.putnam.

Blessing Number 2: Father’s House Won Their Lawsuit!

As many of you know, Father’s House Orphanage has been battling an evil businessman in the Ukrainian civil courts for three years. Masquerading as advocates for the children, he and his attorneys claim the kids were being spiritually abused, and that the orphanage was not following the laws of Ukraine. In the best interest of the children, they suggested that the courts revoke the orphanage’s charter and disperse the children to other orphanages across Ukraine.

In reality, these men were trying to steal the property for their own personal financial gain (the orphanage sits on a large section of prime real estate). Of course, this would then give these evildoers the opportunity to steal the land or purchase it for a small fraction of its fair market value, netting them a profit of hundreds of thousand of dollars, if not more.

Their court case was a total facade. They didn’t care about the children at all! Despite the frivolousness of the lawsuit, the director was fearful of the outcome. She confided to us that she doubted her side was going to win the suit because the legal tactics taken by the plaintiffs seemed to be swaying the court to their advantage. This meant she would lose the children her staff loved very much.

But many people prayed: The orphanage workers, the children, Ukrainian Christians, and American Christians. When the judge rendered his decision in favor of the orphanage, all of us were surprised and very pleased! Clearly, it was a miraculous decision – particularly since the orphanage director all but believed that the lawsuit was lost. God obviously intervened through this secular judge!

I too was amazed, because the Ukrainian judicial system isn’t known for having the same level of integrity as our American system. This decision increased my respect for Ukrainian legal system! In our next prayer letter you will read the director’s own report of these events.

 

Let us give glory to God, who “Sustains the fatherless … but frustrates the ways of the wicked”; (Psalm 146:9).

Blessing Number 3: Anastasia Was Adopted!

Many of you have followed little Anastasia through the past few years. As you may recall, when she was a young little girl, her mother abandoned her at a train station in Kharkov. Marred by a cleft lip, you prayed for her through all of her surgeries, speech therapy, and interaction with other orphan children. In light of her tragic story, we were trying to restore her little life to as much normalcy as possible.

Then out of nowhere, another miracle took place. Unknown to anyone at SCM, an American couple hoping to adopt a child in Ukraine discovered little Anastasia. After searching for their beautiful child, God directed them to our little girl, who we adopted in our hearts. Anastasia now lives in a Christian home in Alabama, with a new family under a new name: Rachael Gann. Please visit the family’s blog at http://web.me.com/tonygann/Mobileme/Home.html.

During this season of financial uncertainty, giving to SCM remains about 40% below our monthly requirements. For those of you who continue to partner with our ministry financially during these troubling economic times, you remain an absolute blessing to us! Thank you for your faithful giving and personal sacrifice! We love you dearly and can do nothing without you!

For all of you who have prayed for our ministry, we thank you for your sacrifice, too. Half-way around the world, lives have been changed and souls saved – because you cared enough to pray.

 

Thank you so very much! In great and small ways, all of you have a share in this season of blessing! God bless all of you.

 

Ron Putnam

Father’s House Wins Court Case

I hope all of you are well. This letter will update you on the recent events at SCM. May you be encouraged by this month’s update.

Before sharing our primary story with you in this prayer letter, I want to inform you that we have begun ministering in eleven locations (in theology, English evangelism, and orphans ministry). Please pray for all of our courses!

Father of the Fatherless!

As I reported to you in our last prayer letter, Father’s House Orphanage had been battling a group of evil businessmen within the Ukrainian legal system for several years. I am proud to report to you that Father’s House Orphanage won their lawsuit in the appellate court! This is a terrific “first”; victory for our Lord … and the kids!

Yliana Yriavna, the orphanage director for Father’s House, is praising God for his mercy and she wants to thank everyone who supported the children and staff in prayer during these difficult years! Here is a snapshot of the situation from Yliana’s perspective. She writes,

Our shelter is over seven years old now. Since our beginning, we have always prided ourselves in being able to provide plenty of Christian love to these children. There has always been a very good atmosphere between the staff and the children. So far, we have invested heavily into seventy children within our orphanage.

About two years ago things took a surprising turn for the worst. Even to this day, we are unsure why it all happened, except to assume that certain businessmen wanted to steal our property because it is on a very expensive piece of land that is in a prime location for development. I am sure they wanted to take our land and sell it for great financial gain. Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence in my country!

For the last two years the plaintiff’s were trying to sway the courts and the government to relocate our children by transferring them to government run institutions. As you can probably imagine, this is not the best situation, if you want to minister to kids daily!

They tried desperately to close our Christian ministry. And for the past two years or longer, we have all been on edge, frantically trying to protect these children and keep them within our Christian environment of love and care. All we wanted to do was keep our family together. But not knowing the future, all of us (adults and kids alike) shed many tears.

During this on-going battle, we have proven to the court time-and-time again that the plaintiff’s lawsuit was groundless, and that all of the claims were fabricated! Despite our legal defense and emotional appeals, it looked like the children were going to be transferred to somewhere else. Our greatest fears were unfolding before our eyes when the district court favored on behalf of our opponents.

We immediately appealed their decision and filed a complaint in the appellate court in Kharkov. Then after another round of grueling legal proceedings, the appellate court decided “It is impossible to agree with a conclusion made of the first court, and this court has decided that the lower court made a mistake in their decision. Their decision was unreasonable and without proof.”; As a result, the district court was overturned and we were able to keep the children!

It is difficult to describe what a huge joy and sense or relief we felt when we received this decision! Everyone was overwhelmed with gratitude and thanksgiving to our Lord Jesus! The children were exuberant and went into instant elation! Once again, tears were flowing in the eyes of everyone, but this time they were happy tears! But now, more sad news – these evil businessmen just began a “new”; lawsuit against us just today (September 16, 2009). We were just served with papers. So here it goes all over again!

Nevertheless, we thank our Lord Jesus for his mercy, and we are steadfast in believing that he remains a protector and father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5)! Thank you for your ongoing prayers!

As you can see, despite the long hard fight, they can now rejoice for a moment; but clearly, the evil one will not let go! Another lawsuit has just begun! Please continue to pray for these sincere believers who are constantly being persecuted!

Ron Putnam

Am I Lovable?

Dear Friends and Partners,

I hope all of you enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving and hopefully you’re now looking forward to a joyful Christmas holiday. My family is delighted to celebrate Brianna’s first Christmas. She’ll be six months old on New Years Day!

Realizing that not every child in the world has been blessed as much as us, please allow me to share with you the story of one 13 year old boy whose life differs greatly from yours. His name is Nikolai, and he was dropped off at a Ukrainian orphanage two years ago.

AM I LOVABLE?

Hello, my name is Nikolai. I was born into a blended family, where my two siblings came from my mom’s first marriage and I was my dad’s only child. Unfortunately, shortly after I was born, my dad abandoned our family and moved away. I never knew him, and because my mom never remarried, I never experienced the love of any dad, much less, my dad. People tell me that he lives nearby with a new family, but he’s never taken the time to visit me. I wish I understood why, because I’d like to see him. I guess he is busy.

Growing up, my mom became very depressed and began drinking lots of alcohol. Whenever she got drunk, she beat me. After growing tired from the many beatings, I decided to run away from home. How could my life away from home be any worse than what I was experiencing at home? I thought to myself. Besides, no around cares about me anyway—so why stay?

I lived on the streets since I was nine years old. During the day, I hung out with my other homeless friends on the streets. They were the only family I really knew. Quickly, however, I discovered that the streets weren’t safe at night. To protect myself, I spent as much time as possible inside the casinos, nightclubs, or the cold cement floors of high rise apartment stairwells – I had no place else to go or to sleep.

Eventually, my half-sister found me and brought me to an orphanage so I could at least have food and a bed to sleep in every night. I have lived in Saltavka orphanage for two years.

The people from Slavic Christian Ministries began visiting me every week. They taught me Bible stories, played games with me, and became my friend. Somebody finally cared about me! Eventually, I decided to accept Jesus as my Savior. I am so happy to learn that Jesus loves me and that he will never leave me, even if everyone else does!

I am so happy to see Vova and Lena and all the helpers. The moment I see them, I run to them, greet them with a smile, and help them any way I can. I am so happy that God put these people in my life—and God has even brought me to a family that will adopt me! In a very short time I will be someone’s son! Not only do I know that God loves me, but other people do too! I guess that I am lovable!

Friends, since we received this testimony about Nikolai, he has now been placed in a good home in a town called Kolomak, about an hour drive away from our city of Kharkov. He has two new siblings and two new parents that care for him very much. And to add to this wonderful story, there is a church with one of our partnering denominations in this particular town! Hopefully, we can encourage Nikolai and his family to attend this church very soon! Because of your love, prayers, and commitment to this ministry, we are reaching many kids like Nikolai.

As you enter this Christmas season, please take some time to thank God for every blessing he has given you—a family, a bed, food, and safety. We often take them for granted. And please remember to pray for all of the orphans in Ukraine. Pray that they will all know our Lord Jesus as Savior and that he will bless them all with the gift of Christmas—the gift of himself.

 

Ron Putnam

Embracing Arms of Love

Here is another prayer letter about one of the orphans we work with regularly. I hope you are touched by this letter about Dasha!

Embracing Arms of Love

Dasha was only a year old when our team of orphanage workers began ministering to her in the “orphan unit” within a local hospital in Kharkov. Because Dasha is so young, I need to tell you her story.

Her neighbors found little Dasha crying in her apartment alone with two other children. They had gone several days without food, water, or any care by anyone—the mother completely abandoned the frightened and hungry kids! Our team met Dasha the day after she arrived at the hospital. Dasha was visibly sad and in a state of shock. The hearts of all our ministry team broke for this little girl.

Five months later, our team has seen a dramatic improvement in Dasha’s spirits, but she hasn’t been transferred to a permanent orphanage with all the other infants because of a bizarre turn of events.

Recently, Dasha’s father found her at the hospital and he has begun visiting her on occasion. Because the father has been identified, Dasha is no longer eligible for adoption into a good family. And due to a technicality in the law, Dasha cannot be transferred to a better location for toddlers and infants, where she can interact with other children and receive better care.

Until the father convinces the authorities that he is reliable and can provide for his daughter, she is stuck in this sterile environment.

The good news is that she is now receiving food and care from the hospital staff and from our ministry staff.

Because the children are so young at this hospital, we cannot teach them about God; all we can do is embrace them with arms of love, and show them that we care for them. Our team does its best to comfort these little children.

Friends, please pray for Dasha, that her life will dramatically improve very soon—hopefully, with minimal emotional trauma.

We need your help to care for children like Dasha.

Thank you for all of your help. You are greatly appreciated!

In Jesus’ love,

Ronald David Putnam

Vova’s Joy

Hello, my name is Vova, and I am the Ukraine director for Slavic Christian Ministries. One of my duties is to oversee the entire orphanage ministry here in Ukraine. Here is a story that I’m sure you will find encouraging.

As we minister to the children in the orphanages every week, we always teach a story from the Bible. Not long ago, we discussed the Easter story and how Jesus died for our sins. As soon as I began talking about Easter, the kids became very curious. They asked me many questions about Jesus, Easter…and Easter eggs, of course! Clearly they didn’t understand the significance of this holy day, but they were eager to learn. I explained the significance of Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection. And if we accept him as our Lord and Savior, his death provides forgiveness of sins. They listened intently to every word.

At the end of a lesson I gave an altar call and asked which children wanted to express their thanks to Jesus by accepting him as their Savior. I am pleased to report that all ten children accepted Jesus that day!

After the prayer, I asked the kids, “Do you know now why we say, ‘Jesus Christ has risen?’” Some of the children responded with a resounding “Yes—because his is alive!”

Driving home, I was pleased with the day’s lesson. Only God knows if these prayers of repentance were from the heart, but one thing I know for sure – God now has full access to work in these little hearts for his glory! I am filled with a huge amount of pleasure and joy!

- Vova Yevsukov, SCM Director

Please continue to pray for the souls of all the orphan children we are trying to reach for our Lord. They need not only your prayers for their salvation, but for love, healing, and a bright future! Please also pray for Vova and all those who help us with our orphan ministry; emotionally, it is a very taxing ministry. There are many joys and many sorrows, too.

On a side note, my wife Katya has been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. Please pray for her health. Thank you for your continued love, prayers, and financial support. Because of your partnership, lives are being touched every day!

 

In Jesus’ love,

 

Ronald David Putnam

Bogdana & Yaroslavna’s Story

Our ministry director and I speak often and during one of our conversation he was telling me about how God was really blessing our orphanage ministry, despite many of the restrictions placed upon us by the government (who don’t want Christians to minister to orphans anymore). But by God’s grace, we are still able to minister to orphans in several locations – one of them being an orphanage in the Kharkov suburb of Saltavka.

In December or January, we always seek to put on some sort of Christmas program. Our team went to Saltavka orphanage and spoke with the children about the meaning of Christmas. Vova reported how amazing it was to seeing how interested the children were to learn about the true meaning of Christmas. Our team spoke about the wonder of advent, where God descended from heaven to be born as a baby child, as God incarnate. Our team, as usual, interwove the salvation story about how Jesus came not just to be born, but to sacrifice himself so others could be reconciled to him once again, since we are lost without Jesus as our Savior.

Then with a sense of excitement, expectation, wonder, and joy, 16 children accepted Jesus as their Savior! We passed out some biblical resources to help them on their new path as Christians. Here are two testimonies of two sisters Bogadana (15 years old) and Yaroslavna (13 years old):

Bogdana & Yaroslavna’s Story

Hello, we are Bogdana and Yaroslavna and we grew up in a village near Kharkov called Sharovka. Before I was born (Bogdana), the doctors said that my mom should do an abortion because they believed that I was going to die during my mom’s pregnancy or be very deformed physically. But when I was born, I was OK. So everyone told my mom to name me Bogdana, because my name means “A child given by God.” So I believe God had a purpose for me before I was born, but I didn’t know how or why.

You should know that our mommy is a simple village woman and our daddy unfortunately is an alcoholic. We grew up in extreme poverty and never had enough food on our table to eat. Our usual meal was just bread and water to eat. We planted a garden this year so we could have some vegetables, but the summer was so hot that majority of the vegetables never could be harvested because of drought. Because my parents were very fearful and discouraged that they could no longer take care of us, they left us at the orphanage. There isn’t any Christian church in our village, and we don’t think any Christian live there either. So we never grew up knowing about Jesus.

We didn’t want to leave our parent and we want to go back home, but after meeting you wonderful Christians, we are thankful that we came to the orphanage. Since Slavic Christian Ministries has been teaching us since our arrival two months ago, we have learned much about God and Jesus than we ever knew beforehand. Now we want to follow Jesus, we want to change our lives, have better behavior, and hopefully someday, have a better life for ourselves. Please pray about us as we try to learn more about God. Please also pray about our parents and that God will help us all come back together someday. Thank you for telling us about God. This is going to be a good Christmas!

- Bogdana and Yaroslavna

Dear friends, our Lord does have a special plan for these two girls. And he gave them a very special Christmas gift – his salvation! Thankfully, the Lord used our ministry to help reach this decision for Christ! Please pray that he will take care of these beautiful children in the coming months and years. Being an orphan in Ukraine is very difficult and filled with many dangers. So please keep these girls and all these beautiful children in your prayers. Please also pray that we can continue to minister in the orphanages as long as possible.

Christmas Outreach

Dear American Friends,

During the Christmas holiday, you may be aware that we always try to visit orphanages with a special Christmas program. Our goal is to show them the love of God, teach them the miracle of the Christmas story, and offer an opportunity to invite Jesus in their hearts.

We usually engage in a theatrical performance using Slavic Christian Ministry staff and volunteers from the local churches around Kharkov. To make it more joyful, we try to incorporate the children so they are active participants in the play, and not just passive spectators.

The younger kids had fun as we role played and they would follow the star like the Wisemen, visit the king’s palace, worship at the manger, and worship the baby Jesus.

Not only do they enjoy participating, they intently listen to the gospel message. Then after we give an opportunity to accept Jesus as their Lord, we have a party where we play games and have several competitions. At the end of our program every one of them received a present.

We are pretty sure that the kids will remember this Christmas celebration for a long time.

 

Please, pray that joy of Christmas (and Jesus) would always remain in their hearts! I want to thank all of Slavic Christian Ministries’ supporters over the years. I will be leaving the ministry because I am getting married to a pastor within the state of Kiev, which is five hours away by car. I thank God for the ability to share Christ’s love with so many children. God bless you all very much!

- Lena Kutavaya, SCM orphanage worker

Dear friends, we love Lena very much, and she will be dearly missed by all of us. Next month, I will introduce the new Christian lady that we hired to take Lena’s place. We continue to invest in these children’s lives because we know that our Lord loves children, especially the orphans. James writes in his epistle, “The r eligion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress …” (James 1:27).

Heart Blossoming

You probably know that we minister in many different locations with our various outreaches of theology courses, medical outreaches, and orphanage ministry. Father’s House orphanage is one of the many locations where we minister. With the Lord’s favor, we have been ministering at this orphanage for six years, but the number of children residing here has diminished dramatically because of governmental crackdown on this Christian orphanage. Some orphans graduated and some were adopted, but the government hasn’t placed any new kids here because they are a private Christian institution who has had to engage in legal battles for years to protect their kids.

We remain faithful to this orphanage, because they are now beginning to implement a new vision and recreate themselves from an orphanage to an “orphan transition house,” where orphans will receive help, encouragement, and training, so they can successfully reenter society, instead of going back to a life of desperation that would place them back on the streets and a life of crime.

Our role is very simple: we come and minister to the kids through personal interaction and Bible studies. Every time our team visits, these children are always so happy to see us, participate in our classes, read their Bible, do homework, and play games with us.

I would like to share with you about a girl named Masha (Mary in English). She has lived at this home with her siblings for a number of years. These children were brought to Father’s House orphanage because her parents were severe alcoholics. Unfortunately, after the children were placed in the orphanage, both parents died of alcoholism.

While we were ministering to Masha, she accepted Jesus Christ in her heart as Lord and Savior. It has been a delight watching her grow in her faith, even as a child! Recently Mary has shared with us this about herself:

“Every class brings something new to me, and I am excited because my heart continues to open. In the past, I heard some things about God, but I never paid too much attention to what was being said. But your classes have opened up my heart in newfound ways.

For example, last Christmas we were talking about the meaning of Christmas, but I didn’t know the meaning of Christmas. I never knew that Christmas was about Jesus. I always thought it was just about a Christmas tree and presents, not about my Savior Jesus! And it was during our celebration that my heart fully opened, I was born again, and I was filled with even more amazing joy.

I know I am a kid, but these Bible studies are helping me choose the right path for life and as a Christian. Recently, my faith was tested: date a non-Christian and go the way of the world, or follow the Bible. I chose God’s way for my life. It was a hard decision for me, but the right one. Thank you for showing me where I am supposed to go and the way to live!”

- Masha

You can see how our Lord has saved and encourages Masha (and others like her). She is clearly trying to please the Lord in every way possible. Proverbs 22:6 is quite true, “train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Thank you for continuing to pray for these beautiful children. We thank God for you and are please that you have joined us on this adventure! We are still down about 70% in our monthly donations, so please considering help out, if you are not yet – not many have stepped up since our last request.

In Jesus’ love,

Ron Putnam

Sometimes There Is Success

By now you know that the plight of Ukrainian orphans is very real, and many of them will face a very difficult life of abuse, imprisonment, or human trafficking. We are able to minster to a small fraction of such disadvantaged children, but we pray that the Lord uses our ministry to make a spiritual difference with those whom our God has allowed to help.

We strive to bring them to a saving knowledge of Christ, love them, and teach them practical principles for daily living. And on occasion, we are encouraged by those few who truly turn their lives around. Karina, who is the focus of this prayer letter, is one of those blessed few who has been able to overcome her past and propel herself toward a bright future. Below is a small glimpse into her life. I hope you enjoy her testimony of success.

Sometimes There is Success

Hello, my name is Karina. I was born in a very troubled single parent home. My father abandoned me at an early age and my mother, who raised me for the first seven years of my life was an abusive alcoholic, who attempted to drown her troubles with liquor. There was such despair and neglect that the Ukrainian government took me away and placed me in an orphanage at a very impressionable age. I have lived in an orphan for ten years now, and I am currently seventeen years old.

Over the years, I knew that the only way I was going to overcome my situation, is if I succeeded in school. Therefore, I completed my high school education and I have enrolled in college to become a fashion designer. I still live in the orphanage while I go to college, because everyone is like family to me, it is safe, secure, and it helps me to save money too. I am hoping to live a normal and happy life going forward.

Over the years, many loving Christian people have helped me heal and grow, and I am so thankful for everybody’s involvement; I feel so blessed! Some of these people are from Slavic Christian Ministries. They have been very faithful friends of mine, who have taught me so much about the Bible, helped me understand how to live for God, and that I have a special purpose in life.

I believe that there are so many unhealthy things vying for my attention that I am grateful that SCM and others loving Christians have shown me the proper way to live. I am delighted to report that I have found a local Christian church, was baptized, and have become a member of the worship team. By the way, I enjoy playing the piano!

I also feel blessed that God placed a group of Christian students around me at my college. There are not many Christians in my culture, so I see God blessing me here too. Thank you for helping me in life; I know that with God’s help, I will make it! I want to give a heart-felt thank you to everyone in America for helping me know Jesus and by making my life more enriching. I am a more sincere, dedicated, and mature Christian because of your help. Thank you!

 

- Love, Karina

As you can see, Karina is a lovely girl. It is true that we have helped her, but I believe many people invested in her, God has watched over her, and she had the internal fortitude to succeed. Karina may have had a rough beginning; she may carry some scars from her childhood, but she is free in Christ. John 8:36 is very apropos here, “If the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” And we already know from Scripture that God has a heart for orphans (James 1:27). Clearly, our Lord Jesus loves Karina! Please keep her in your prayers that she will run the good Christian race and make it to the end!

Abandoned by the world, but not by God

One boy our ministry has invested in for several years is named Artem Mogila. He is a 15 year old orphan who was delivered to the orphanage by his grandmother eight years ago.

Unfortunately, Artem never knew his father, because his mother was promiscuous and didn’t know the father’s identity. And after Artem’s birth, his mother saw him as a burden and “gave him away” to a total stranger. The police were contacted, an investigation ensued on the whereabouts of his biological mother, but when she was never discovered, Artem was placed with his biological grandmother who loved and cared for him for the first seven years of his life.

 

The mother was pronounced “dead” by the government several years after her disappearance.

Artem’s grandmother loved and cared for him, but her age, feebleness, and poverty left her with the inability to care and provide for him, so she had to make the very difficult decision to release custody and send Artem to an orphanage, where she would visit him on weekends, until she passed away a few years ago.

After his grandmother’s death, Artem became disillusioned, depressed, unstable, aggressive, and angry. His one and only family member was gone – and he felt abandoned by this world. But God had other plans for Artem. God hadn’t abandoned him; in fact, our Lord had been watching, waiting, and preparing Artem to meet him for the very first time. When Artem was in despair, Jesus entered his life when Christians introduced Artem to God and the Good News of redemption and salvation that is available through Jesus. Shortly afterward, Artem accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior and became part of a worldwide and eternal family. This hopeless boy began the path toward hope and peace, once again!

Our SCM employees testify to an amazing transformation in Artem’s life as people’s love, prayers, and personal investment turned his life around. This transformation occurred through the consistency of several Christian believers, including our team.

Unshackled by Fear

I would like to share a story about a boy named Yura, who has lived in an orphanage for the past eight years. Currently he is fourteen years old and is pleasant to be around. Yura doesn’t have many memories prior to entering the orphanage, except his recollection that there were many problems within his home. Both of Yura’s parents died of alcoholism and he was raised by his grandmother until her disabilities made it impossible for her to care for him. Unfortunately, Yura had to be moved to an orphanage at the tender age of six.

Because of these very difficult and impressionable childhood experiences, Yura had some deep emotional wounds; he was very reserved and an extremely frightened child. Whenever any conflict arose, no matter how minor, Yura would immediately run and hide in a corner of a room and not speak to anyone for multiple hours. I am unaware if it was a place of protection, preservation, solace, or a place of self-induced discipline based on earlier experiences. His actions have been difficult for both kids and staff because they wanted Yura to be free from his self-imposed imprisonment due to unhealthy coping mechanisms. He was often alienated from the orphanage community.

Over the years, his temperament has slowly changed; he has opened up more, improved in school, and improved in his interaction with other children. It was discovered that Yura excelled at art, advanced math, and computer skills. His artwork was shown at different art exhibitions and he has received multiple international awards, including an art award from the Governor of Kharkov. Over time, he has been unshackled by fear, to which we are very grateful.

Yura knows the Bible fairly well and has accepted Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior! When SCM workers visit his orphanage he is very active in participating in our Bible lessons. He enjoys our team and he continues to grow in his biblical knowledge and faith. Our team has contributed to Yura’s emotional growth and spiritual development. Yura still has many obstacles to overcome in life, but your prayers, our encouragement, prayers, and teaching, and the Lord’s blessing and oversight of Yura, we hope that Yura’s future will be better than his past.

There are many orphaned children that exhibit emotional scars and it isn’t a surprise to us, but we pray that by your generosity, Vova and Lena, our orphanage workers can continue to invest in lives of many children every week!

What is the Holy Bible?

Chuygev orphanage is a small orphanage about a 20 minute drive south of Kharkov. It is only about 16 children, but it had been a blessing to minister to them. The children range from six to fifteen years old. It is a very poor orphanage, which often has very sick children that need to be quarantined because of health issues. When that happens, no one from outside the orphanage is allowed to minister to these kids. We tried to minister to these kids for about a year, off and on. It was much more difficult to get a weekly schedule with these kids, for some reason. Then without any reason, the orphanage shut their doors to all Christian workers.

When SCM workers did have opportunities to minister here, they would love on the kids, play with them, engage in crafts, counsel them, and would teach them various Sunday school subjects, including subjects like what is the “Holy Bible.”

Can you imagine that over half of the kids had no idea of what the Bible was! They had no idea that it even existed or anything about its contents!

Now you can see what we are so distressed that the orphanage director has stopped our biblical investment in these kids. If they have no concept of what is the Bible, we have much work to do!

They already have nothing and no hope for a bright future and we can no longer love on these kids … horrible turn of events. At the very least they deserve God’s Word to they have the opportunity to know the truth. Please pray with the downturn of the economy, they will open back up to our request to minister here.

Darina is Scared to Go Home

The destructive effects of alcoholism are rampant within Ukraine. And when both parents are abusive alcoholics, it often makes for a very unsafe environment for the children. In fact, many Ukrainian orphans are social orphans, meaning they have a living parent, but the home environment is so destructive that the child is placed in an orphanage for their own wellbeing and safety. Darina is one of those children who never returned home.

Darina was born in a very abusive family, where both of her parents are alcoholics. The children in the family often were starving and beaten severely by their parents when they were under the influence of alcohol. Despite Darina’s tender age, she would often run away from home and go to a nearby café to beg for food and money.

Her escape from home was usually during the daytime, but she would return in the late evening, so she could sleep in her own bed. Once Darina left home for three days and was detained by the police and sent to a children’s homeless shelter. In the beginning, she really missed her family and wanted to go back home, but after 6 months at the center, Darina began dreaming of having a new foster family. She understood how toxic her upbringing had become. She no longer wanted to go home over the fear that her parents drinking would lead to more physically abuse.

A bond was created between Ira (our employee) and Darina. Darina was always excited to see Ira visit her. Ira would encourage her, pray with her, support her, counsel her, and of course, teach her about Jesus and other Sunday school lessons. Darina has always been a willing participant in our group discussion too. She wanted to do whatever she could to help out, so she acted as Ira’s assistant in setting up and packing our supplies and materials. In general, Darina is a happy and wonderful girl who needs our Savior Jesus Christ. She always longed for a “normal family” that would love and take of her and I am pleased to report that she was recently adopted into a family! We believe she may still be in process of accepting Jesus. She came to church and was open, but we don’t remember her repenting publicly, so please keep her in your prayers.

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