We are nearing the halfway mark of our time here in Ukraine already. The time has flown by and the work of God amongst the disabled of Ukraine has been a pure joy to observe and be a part of! We are encouraged and those we are serving with from the church are as well.
I would HIGHLY recommend signing up for our newsletter here as we can more safely and respectfully share what is going on here in more detail. PLEASE consider it. Thank you!
Much has happened since our last informational blog post three weeks ago. Of note was the “festival” we hosted in partnership with the Christian Bible Church (CBC) for families impacted by disability. The festival consisted of a ride on the local river boat followed by a meal, games, and ice cream. We had 14 families in attendance with some 20 volunteers from CBC. Tons of smiles and laughter! Due to the generosity of our team of supporters and the generosity of the super-philanthrotographers Benjamin Edwards and Elizabeth Fischer, we were able to capture this event and many other goings on here both pictorially and video-graphically.
Everyone enjoyed themselves! The families were blessed by the whole event and the unique opportunity to be together with other families experiencing disability. The people of CBC served hard and did an amazing job of making the whole time special. We praise God for His using this time to connect His people with the hurting and lost! Read Pastor/Missionary/Church-planter, Jake Knotts’ reflection on this event and what it meant to him as the pastor of CBC here.
We have continued to meet in the homes of families of children with special needs. These meetings have been sweet and informative. Often we leave challenged to think through the various cultural implications that disability creates, some anticipated, but more than a few unexpected twists that the Ukrainian context brings. BUT the gospel transcends ALL and the Lord has been faithful to bring us into this culture to proclaim the gospel. We are all disabled and we all need Jesus to free us from the bondage of our sin-disability. The hope that comes only from the Cross of Christ is such a priceless gift to give the families and orphans we are working with.
Why are you cast down, O my soul,
and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,
my salvation and my God.
(Psalm 42:11 ESV)
The sweet family above were one of the first families we met with when we got here. This sweet Girl has Rett Syndrome and is 15 years old. The love that flows from this mother and father are clear and evident.
Medical proficiency is not prevalent in this part of the country. There is a startling lack of experience or training in disability within the local medical community. As this sweet girl’s condition continued to digress the doctors simply didn’t have the tools to diagnos her. After several years of not knowing the best treatment for their daughter they were finally able to identify Rett Syndrome as the source of her complications.
Their daughter was just the second of only four cases of Rett Syndrome identified in this city of 300,000. They rely on the internet to find out how they can best care for their daughter. They are never quite sure if the treatments they pursue or the therapies they exercise at home are the right ones for their sweet Girl. This family has experienced deep pain, sorrow, love, and the whole gambit of emotions over the years. They are not bitter but at the same time the future for their daughter is foreboding. But we are here to show them to hope in God…alone.
When referring to the orphans here I will simply call them the Girls and the Boys as I can’t be any more specific on that in this forum. We have assisted CBC in reaching two orphanage locations, one for Girls and the other primarily with Boys. These have been really enjoyable times of reading Bible stories, singing songs, playing games, and doing crafts with the kids (ages 4 to 28 years)!
Benjamin and Elizabeth were able to capture the girls for portraits that we will be able to give as gifts to them. Ben captured it exceedingly well on his blog. These Girls got all dressed up and ready for pictures!
The greatest needs of the orphans is love. Consistent, intentional, Jesus-saturated, gospel speaking, love. It seems simple and maybe a tad understated but that is where the greatest lack is within the orphanage system. Pray for us as we bring the gospel and love to them.
Thank you for your prayers, love, and encouragement!
Please let others know about the needs of the disabled in North America and globally. It is our passion to help the Church engage the disabled populations of the world with the gospel and needed physical resources, all through the pursuit of Christ-centered transformation in the lives of people impacted by disability.
Sincerely In Christ Alone,
Justin and Tam and the Fam