With his head bent low and hands in the pockets of the suit he wore earlier in the day for his graduation from school at Shpola Orphanage, Vlad contemplatively walked up and down along the tall grass in the woods away from the celebratory bonfire and smores everyone else was enjoying. The sight of him pulled at my heartstrings. Was he thinking, "This is the only place I have been provided for and felt safe. What now?" Did he feel frightened and forsaken?
The children in the Ukrainian orphanage system “age-out” and graduate after completing 9th grade (average age between 15-16). Hope Now USA realizes the need for these children to have support as they transition into the “real world” and has developed a thriving ministry to assist them as they enter the next phase of life. Hope Now helps with housing, schooling, clothing, advice, and financial needs all the while building a community for the graduates to come together regularly for spiritual growth and connectedness.
Sponsoring Vlad in this critical juncture in his life has taken those pulled heartstrings I felt on his graduation night and applied them in a practical way to help him succeed; vocationally, personally, and spiritually.
Earlier in the day of his graduation, my translator and I shared the Gospel with Vlad by making a Salvation Bracelet. I noticed he was listening intently. I could see in his eyes he was engaged, and not just stringing beads on a piece of leather. Perhaps that was a seed that came to bear fruit three years later when Vlad came to faith in Christ. Glory, hallelujah! Through Hope Now’s ministry (reaching out, providing financial assistance, sponsorship, prayers, inviting him to social activities, Youth Group, and church) Vlad was shown love and “the Way, the Truth, and the Life.” He accepted Christ as his Savior! Praise God that Vlad’s eternal future is secure, and he does not have to be fearful about his earthly future. He now knows he is never alone, and God will never leave him or forsake him.
Having witnessed first-hand the impact that Hope Now USA has on the “least of these” as they serve and strive to be the “hands and feet” of Christ has been extraordinary. If you would like to join me in partnering with Hope Now through prayer, volunteering, or financial support, please reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org or by going to their donation page.
I have learned in a profound and wonderful way that one act of kindness, or one invitation, or one need met, or one missional trip across the pond, or one sponsorship can make the difference between fear and peace, between existing and thriving, and between life and death.
By: Becky Terry
Depending on which “official statistics” you believe, there are between 70,000 – 100,000 orphans in Ukraine living in about 750 institutions. This is a huge number. The Ukrainian government is doing its best to reduce it and is in the process of developing a foster care system.
But life is not about numbers; rather the children behind those numbers. Children who need our help. Children like Andrei.