We do. They look after 180 orphans who have experienced trauma throughout their short lives. The job is tough, with odd hours and low pay. These are the adults that supervise the kids in the orphanage before and after school hours. They are essentially raising the kids, and we minister to them too.
On Saturday, as a part of our Christian Ed program “Wake Up” I prepared a Master Class and Devotion just for the Care Givers. We do this for children of course, but not usually for the Care Givers. They were surprised; well, shocked really.
I made brownies, brought special teas & coffees and asked one of our volunteers, Inna to prepare a woodburning craft for them. Before we got down to the woodburning craft, we sat and relaxed, and I spoke to them.
I told them that I thank God for the gift of good Care Givers. Then I thanked them for taking on the responsibility of shaping the next generation of thinkers and doers. I reminded them that once upon a time, I was a Care Giver too. And the best advice I received was:
Love the children first.
Then teach them & care for them.
Just as God promised Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars in the heavens (Genesis 26:4), He could make the same promise to these Care Givers. He gives them children to care for as numerous and as unique as all the stars in the sky.
Each child is different. Many do not know how to behave. What works for one kid, doesn’t work for another. Every kid is different, and all these kids can drive us crazy. I asked whether they thought if these kids will really be something special when they grow up? Will they be the next president? Is it realistic that they will they be good doctors? Can they even become good members of society? And are these unique children even special? Remarkably, they agreed they all have potential!
I told them that as a Christian, I often remember the bible verse from Matthew 19:14
Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
When people tried to keep the children away from Jesus, He was not pleased at all. He did not think of the children as bothering him — instead, he wanted them to come so that he could bless them.
God thinks that every Shpola child IS IMPORTANT. He says, do not hinder them. Children are needy and dependent. They know almost nothing about life. They function on mainly emotion rather than reason. I reminded the Care Givers that they have the unique job of helping the children mature. I asked them to tell them about Jesus. Use words if necessary. Actions are louder.
I told them I would pray that God will:
Spark their imaginations with ways to reach even the most difficult learner.
When the days are long and the challenges seem too many, God will grant them peace.
When things go smoothly, I pray the children will see their guiding hand and give them thanks.
I ask God to give Care Givers the grace needed to see Jesus in every child.
I asked them to try to respond to the individual needs of each child to the best of their ability.
I pray that God will protect them from harm but make them brave and knowledgeable in times of crisis.
And finally, that they would find strength for the journey in each smile, hug and newly learned skill.
As a ministry, it’s easy to focus on the needs of 180 children living in an orphanage. Would you join me in praying for the Care Givers too? They have such a huge influence on the tender hearts of the orphans in their care.
As the end of the year draws close, we are thankful for faithful partners like you. Please consider an end of year gift that will allow us to continue to minister to orphans, those that care for them, their families and communities in Ukraine.
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.