I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and New Year! We had the gift of being sick the whole time, but it was still joyful to see our two oldest girls who were back from college. We also had the privilege of meeting our oldest daughter’s boyfriend who spent Christmas with us too. Entering December, I was nervous about our ministry finances and also sending so much money for our Christmas outreach, but you all were such huge blessings and our ministry ended the year in the black, while still blessing many kids. Thank you for your sacrificial giving!!!
We ended up giving the children an amazing Christmas, with over 300 pairs of shoes given out through four different churches. We were also able to help them put on Christmas programs for families of their churches and unbelievers from the community. For the younger kids we were able to buy some regular Christmas gifts, in addition to the shoes.
Here are three testimonies from this Christmas outreach:
“One young girl who received some winter boots is Asya, who is being raised by her mother. Asya’s mother struggled to provide for her daughter before the war, when they lived in a 16-story apartment. Once the war began, and the bombs and missiles were constantly reigning down upon them, they fled from their home. At the time, Asya was only 5 months old when they became displaced to another region of Ukraine (they didn’t want to leave to another country for the fear of the unknown). After almost two years of being displaced, they returned home to Kharkiv, only to discover their entire suburb was absolutely destroyed and is now unlivable (several hundred thousand people were displaced in her suburb alone). They lost everything. When we discovered Asya and heard about her situation, we wanted to give her winter boots. She loves the boots and her mother is very grateful, because they really don’t own anything any longer and they are just trying to survive.”
Here is another testimony:
“Hello, we are Alexander and Elena from Good News Church in Kharkiv. We want to thank you for blessing our children with shoes this Christmas; what a surprise it was and we thank God you are blessing so many kids! Just a little about our family: we have two children of our own, but due to the tremendous needs of so many orphans in Ukraine, which was exacerbated by the war, we chose to adopted two orphans this year. One boy is Arthur, who has been disabled since childhood and his sister Vera. Their mother abandoned them and the kids were is absolute depression before the war and were in a horrific emotional state once the war began. By God’s grace and through many prayers from our church family, the children are feeling loved and beginning to act like kids again. The children accepted Jesus as their Savior recently and they are much happier. Your gracious gifts to them, made them feel even more loved. Thank you for your kind hearts and warm shoes!”
And one final story:
“Nikita is a boy that has felt lost for a long period of time. His parents divorced when he was young and when his dad remarried another woman who had other children, they neglected Nikita altogether. He felt unloved and neglected – all he wanted was love from his parents. Eventually, the dad dropped him off at his grandparent’s house, because he didn’t want Nikita any longer. While Nikita was living with his grandparents, his grandfather died and the grandmother felt overwhelmed trying to care for Nikita by herself. She sent him to a local church, but something went sideways and she never took him back to church – he remained lonely. The grandmother wasn’t sure if she was able to bless her grandson this Christmas, until one day, our church stopped by with some shoes! Nikita and his grandmother were so thankful and happy with the gift, because his shoes were worn out and she didn’t have money to buy him new ones. They felt so blessed that the grandmother said, ‘You will see us at church soon!’ We are going to follow up with Nikita and his grandmother, but please keep them in your prayers. Shoes just may bring them to Christ in the future!”
I hope you can see that you have made a HUGE difference this Christmas … and these are only a few stories out of the hundreds of kids who had a moment of joy this Christmas. Thank you so much for your love and care!
BOARD UPDATE: Our board met on January 7th and passed the budget for next year. We feel as if this is a transitional year from just partnering with churches to begin transitioning to back to a few additional outreach events. We hired a new ministry director in Ukraine to help us with various projects throughout the year: Orphan care, soup kitchen, summer camps for kids, special projects, and to be the coordinator with all of our ministry partners in Ukraine. We may see if there are a few smaller churches that may need our help in 2024 too. From the prayer letter side of things, we will still be highlighting something different every month: one of our ministry partners with an annual report and current needs and prayers; sharing about one of the refugees or families you are helping and reading about their story/journey; or one of our outreach events. We are prepared and ready to see how God will use us in 2024!
GIVING STATEMENT: Your year-end giving statement will be sent to you via email, if you gave online. If you gave in check form, your giving statement will come via regular mail.
Winter isn’t going to be easy for our friends in Ukraine, but with your help, we were able to buy firewood, which I will discuss next month. The next 90 days are critical, as they just try to endure the long hard winter. Please pray that the electricity stays on for those who have electricity. Over Christmas, Russia attacked Kharkiv with over 50 bombs and many more missiles. I am unsure if they attacked the electrical grids again (as they did last winter). During this attack, we heard that a Christian family from one of our ministry partners was hit by a missile and killed. It is so tragic! I didn’t know the people who passed away, but please pray for this situation too.
Depending on the news source, some are saying this war will string out for years to come and others are saying it could end in a couple of months - as Ukraine become more desperate, since Russia is winning the war of attrition. Slavic Christian Ministries is committed to helping our region of Kharkiv (a pre-war population of around 4 million), as long as God will allow us to do so and as long as the resources hold out. Please continue to partner with our ministry this year too; even if the war ended in 2024, we will have to help with fixing their windows, homes, and lives!
Our giving in 2023 was down by about 60% from 2022, but this was expected because we knew many people and churches were only making a one-time donation when the war broke out in 2022. We were prepared for this drop off and were very strategic with your donations in 2023. With your help, we made a significant impact in 2023. It was a productive year of ministry and we thank God for you in every way –you are a gift from God!
In Jesus’ love,