Young Man with Down Syndrome Freed from 5 Years of Slavery

We want to share a story with you about our friend, Sveta, and a young man named Edik. A few days ago Sveta was shopping and noticed a young man with Down Syndrome begging for money.  He was sitting outside in 14 degree weather with only light clothing on. He looked like he was in pretty bad shape so she decided to go talk to him and give him something to eat. Sveta found out that he’d been working as a slave for the gypsy people - and making a lot of money for them, obviously playing on the fact that he has Down syndrome. She knew she couldn’t leave him there yet didn’t want to call the police, fearing they would have just returned him to the gypsies.

So what did Sveta do?  She called a taxi and “stole” him. She brought him home to bathe and warm him. When she took off his clothes, she saw that his hands and feet had severe frostbite. She took him to the hospital where the doctors said if he had been out there a little longer, they would have had to amputate several of his fingers and toes.

The gypsies found out where he was and started calling and visiting the hospital, trying to get him back. Edik called Sveta crying and was begging her not to let them take him. He told us they beat him and didn’t feed him enough.

After Edik’s parents died several years ago, he lived with his older brother. When 5 years ago Edik got sick, his brother put him in hospital. Edik didn’t like that one bit, so he snuck out of the hospital in search for his brother. On his way home, the gypsies saw him and abducted him. For 5 years, he had been a missing person. The police told us that they called Edik’s brother and that he wanted nothing to do with Edik. We found out later that the police were lying and they never called in the first place! As soon as Edik’s brother got word, he drove through the night 9 hours to come and pick him up.

Sveta has been in contact with Edik, his brother, and sister in law. They are all so happy to be back together again and his brother and sister-in-law said they both instantly fell in love with him all over again.

The day when Edik went home to live with his brother, the gypsies showed up at Sveta’s house.  They had obviously followed her home from the hospital. Less than an hour later, Sveta called us saying that a whole group of gypsies were knocking at her door saying they want to “talk”.

She saw two different cars loaded with gypsies that were sitting outside of her house. We don’t know if they're just trying to scare her or they really wanted to do something bad. Everyone in Ukraine is scared of gypsies and it is even hard to get the police to help.  Pray for Sveta and her family! Her mom is so scared after this event and is thinking about moving to a nearby village with her son who also has Down Syndrome. They are scared the gypsies will steal him if they get the chance. It has been a crazy and scary situation, yet through it all we remember that God was and is our only hope!

Please pray for Edik as he is adjusting back to life with his brother. Pray that they would truly love and take care of him the way they should!

Rejected to Be Truly Loved

“There is a girl who wants to abandon her newborn baby.  Could you talk to her?” – “Of course”.

It happens every so often. Medical staff in the delivery department of Zhitomir maternity hospital invites our counselors to talk to mothers who choose to leave their babies in hospital for various reasons.


This time it was a young sweet girl, Kate, who was not ready for a baby. Coming from a downtrodden village, she entered technical college and ‘learned’ to transition to an adult life. She didn’t know she was pregnant until it was too late to have an abortion. The remaining weeks of pregnancy she spent persuading herself to leave this baby right after delivery. It seemed to be the best decision at her stage of life. Even though her little girl was born prematurely, Kate asked to sign papers for rejection…. But God had a different plan in store for her and her baby. 


As we talked, her heart started to soften. All of a sudden she began to realize that a mother’s love was more important than fancy clothes, luxurious food, and expensive toys. God entrusted her with a precious life to love and take care of …. Sweet Kate accepted her daughter and named her Bogdana – given by God. Day by day she was falling in love with her daughter more and more.

It sounds like a happy ending … but the story doesn’t end there. A few weeks later, Bogdana was diagnosed with water on the brain. It is a common practice for local doctors to suggest mothers leave their children in the hospital if they are given a diagnosis that leads to severe disabilities. Should Kate choose to follow the doctor’s advice this time?


Well, no! She took Bogdana home regardless of the challenging circumstances and has been taking care of her as best as she can. Although after the surgery they returned to a shabby old house which looked more like a shack in a downtrodden village, without gas or running water, Kate didn’t lose hope. Even though there was no drugstore in their village,  the ambulance’s arrival depended on the weather, and resources were limited, she trusted there was a way out. Even though her husband worked far away from them, and she had to take care of her special needs girl all alone, Kate knew each day had enough trouble of its own.

Young and fragile Kate and her husband love their daughter and seek the best for her now. They seek to earn enough money to move to a better place closer to medical services available for Bogdana.  Let’s pray for them to find help in the Lord and to witness His mighty love for them.

You Give Me Reason to Live

Christmas break is over.  The halls at Mission to Ukraine are filled once again with with hugs, well wishes, and excitement. We celebrate Christmas twice here in Ukraine - once on December 25th, and then again on January 7th.  That gives us two excellent opportunities to share the Gospel.  This year, due to the generosity of our friends in Germany, we were also able to provide over 1000 gifts of toys, clothes, and food to families in need.  

We’re so happy to be back from the holidays - loving on our children and caregivers with renewed strength from the Lord.  .

Just how important is that we’re back?  Let me give you just one example of how critical the work of Mission to Ukraine really is:

“Nastya has been waiting with such great excitement til the end of this Christmas break just she could return to her LifeSkills class. Visiting MTU is a gift for us,” shared Tamara (her mother).  “Our times at MTU charge us up for the whole week. Nastya lives because she knows somebody cares for her”.

 MTU Overnight Camp 2017

MTU Overnight Camp 2017

Throughout the past several years Tamara and Nastya have faced so many struggles and challenges.  Sadly, these past two years have proven to be the most difficult.  Due to a rare progressive disease, Nastya has lost strength in her muscles to the degree that she can no longer communicate - even with simple “nods.”  Smiles need extra amount of energy investment.  Tamara needed hepatitis C treatment she simply could not afford. About $1.50 per day of government support left them far below the poverty line. Hard choices between food and medication have left these lovely ladies drained of emotional strength. They have never purchased new clothes and would never even imagine having enough money to take a vacation.  Constant financial and health pressures have led Tamara to what is most likely clinical depression.

 MTU Overnight Camp 2017

MTU Overnight Camp 2017

Nastya is such a good natured, life-loving little girl with a great sense of humor, despite spending most of her days at home alone (or with her mother).  Making friends has been next to impossible.. Wheelchair inaccessible surroundings have severely limited her outings to very few a week.

And yet, the Lord has been reaching out to them with His incredible love, patiently guiding them through their loneliness and pain to the source of strength and value.  

They look forward to the Mission to Ukraine van picking them up with so much joy and anticipation. Bible support groups have encouraged Tamara to grow in her faith. Nastya is enjoying precious moments of fellowship and fun. Medicines, clothes, food, outings, and summer camps have become bright rays of light, piercing through their dark reality.

Due to some problems a few years ago, Nastya couldn’t attend MTU classes.  She couldn’t eat and started having seizures. Doctors offered little hope that she would live much longer. Tamara asked us for prayer support, and God answered those prayers!  She soon felt better and returned to MTU.  Miraculously, she seems to even be improving.  Every time we see her her eyes light up and lips make the hardest ever effort to create a smile. Her smile is the best reward one can get!

Though their journey continues to be one of hardship and trials, as numerous families with children with severe disabilities have, they now know that there are people who care for them - and there is God who LOVES them and lightens their burdens.

 At the Christmas Party 2017

At the Christmas Party 2017

Friends, think of it! The hope you give through your prayer and financial support gives life to Nastya (and many other children in circumstances such as this).  Here in Ukraine, most children with severe disabilities are labeled “vegetables” due to their inability to speak or their mental disabilities. They have no access to fellowship, development, or anything that would stimulate their growth and meet their critical needs. However, because of your love and care they experience life, and life more abundantly (John 10:10).  Thank you for being the conduit God has chosen to use.

Keep your love coming! God has much more in store for these little kiddos and their families!

Orphan Children Need Our Love

As you may know, "Orphan Sunday" is an annual emphasis in churches around the world, highlighting the plight of literally millions of children who are living without the blessing of having parents to care for them.  Whether orphaned through death, taken away by the court systems, or abandoned in institutions due to their biological parents’ inability (or unwillingness) to provide for their children - they all share one thing in common: they need love.

Your partnership allows us to love mothers in crisis pregnancies - and children with disabilities.  It’s how we do our best to follow the admonition in James 1:27:  “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress.”

Emotional and Spiritual Encouragement:

Dr. Bashek: Parents often experience pressure from doctors, relatives, and even grandparents to leave their children with special needs at an orphanage. They constantly hear “You will waste your life if you keep this one.  Leave this child; he is hopeless. You will only burden yourself.”  Sadly, this pressure does not subside as time goes by.  Our heroic mothers come to me in tears for encouragement and support, seeking strength to resist the surrounding voices telling them to abandon their precious little children.  

“When my husband learned we had a girl with spina bifida, he didn’t come to pick me up from the hospital. Neither he nor my in-laws have wanted to have anything to do with my daughter or me ever since.  I am raising my girl alone,” shared Svitlana, Mariyka’s mother.



Material and Financial Assistance:

Olga Chebanova: After Nikolay’s wife passed away he had three children to raise on his own, two of them with severe cerebral palsy.  His boys, Dema and Andrey, are unable to care for themselves.  His baby, Marian, was a preschooler.  Social services, relatives, neighbors tried to persuade him to place his boys with disabilities in an orphanage. He objected: “As long as I live, my children will be with me.”   It’s been a blessing to walk alongside Nikolay and his boys, helping them to figure out cooking, cleaning and doing laundry. He continues to receive a variety of services through Mission to Ukraine. But it’s not just the material goods we provide such as medicines, diapers, food, and counseling - it’s the spiritual and emotional support that he relies on most.

Stopping the cycle:

Natasha Krasovska: This past year we provided multifaceted care for several orphaned girls with unplanned pregnancies. It’s great to be in partnership with local churches who welcome such girls into their community and become a family for them.

Twenty two year old Vita is 28 weeks pregnant. “Even though my boyfriend left me, I have no fear of the future. God will take care of me,” she shared at one of the counseling sessions.

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Serving Boys with Disabilities at the Romaniv Orphanage

Oksana Shulyak: “Our staff at Mission to Ukraine, alongside many volunteers from Zhytomyr and around the world, serve dozens of boys with very significant disabilities at the Romaniv Orphanage.  Thanks in large part to the support of our friends at Hands of Hope in Indiana, we are able to provide weekly supplies of food, support and coach two teachers who work with the boys on a daily basis, assist in equipping workshops for the boys’ development, and organize camps and social integration projects. Though a lot of improvement has already taken place, the need is still great. We’re excited to keep this good work going!”

Thank you friends for your love in action. Please continue to love, pray, and give. In everything we do, may our Lord’s Name be glorified.

Please visit our website at www.missiontoukraine to make a donation today.  Your gift truly makes a difference !!!