Today, I Saw Light Overcome Darkness at a Camp in the Woods of Ukraine

By Steve Znachko,

MTU pastor, supporter, and friend

I am right now in Ukraine and have just returned from visiting the camp for disabled children MTU puts on each year.  It has been a challenging week for over 170 children, parents and volunteers. The conditions are difficult to begin with but even more so this year as the camp has experienced illness, rain every day and the loss of power and water for 1 days due to lightning strikes.  You would never know it was difficult by looking at the campers and the 40+ volunteers, some Americans, some MTU staff, but mostly college aged Ukrainians who give up their vacations, free time and the opportunity to earn much needed money all to come to a camp with 2 “showers” and just few more toilets. But what happens here is something you must see to believe.  

Children mostly shunned in public are each assigned a personal volunteer and the sole job of this volunteer is to love this child like they are loved by Jesus. These children are most lovable, but not always easy to love.  During the week the volunteers will carry them or wheel them to meals, wipe their noses and faces as needed and cheer their every move and accomplishment. For this week the child is not a “disabled child”…but instead a beloved child of a King! Every child is assured to “win” one of the activities and every child receives a medal and does a victory lap in the Special Olympics while hearing their name chanted by hundreds to applause and shouts of “way to go”.

 

The parents watch all of this and there are ALWAYS tears!  It is obvious that deep wells of running water have landed on some very barren land.  They can finally release their children to the care of another, they can finally rest…they can finally laugh! Is it any wonder they are more than willing to hear whatever they can about this Jesus who generates such a miracle.

This is my 16th camp.  It never fails to encourage me. It never fails to challenge me.

Today, I saw Light overcome darkness (Acts 26:18) at a camp in the woods of Ukraine…and I will never be the same, I don’t ever want to be the same.

Friends, prayer warriors and supporters, this year 105 children with disabilities and 84 parents\caregivers attended MTU overnight summer camps. 96 volunteers and 15 MTU staff from over 25 churches both US and UA served families with children with disabilities and orphans. 13 caregivers and 11 children prayed to receive Jesus, 8 people renewed their commitment to follow Christ.  Let’s continue to pray for the seeds planted to grow in their hearts and bring fruit hundredfold.

Pregnancy Care Ministry News

Semi Annual Report: Amazing Breakthroughs and Super Challenges

July Special Events thanks to partnership with Women of Grace Church team:

2 day training for volunteers on leading small groups “Transformational Small Groups”

33 volunteers from 6 different locations received training on leading small groups to be empowered and encouraged in leading Bible studies for our women who chose life for their babies.

Ludmila, volunteer from Zhitomir: “It was important for me to hear that leaders need to find time for rest and fellowship with God. It is very important to find an approach to every person in a group. I am grateful for the team of US friends and for such inspiration for us."

3 day Camp for Pregnancy Care women in Zhitomir.

37 women attended a 3 day camp organized at MTU facility. 24 of them attended a day camp for the first time in their lives. Stories of the women in the Old Testament helped our women see that God can use their lives for His glory and that they are valuable and precious in His eyes. Thanks to camp our women built friendships, learned to support each other, grew in their faith, and received encouragement to connect with local churches.

Olga, 31 year old pregnancy care mother: “During Bible lessons I heard and realized everything that has been happening in my life has a special purpose. God sees my circumstances. He has a special plan for my life. He teaches me to be a strong woman and have confidence in my life, just like Deborah had. It was important for me to hear the stories shared. I saw my story in them and know God continues to shape the story of my life.

Retreat for volunteers

72 volunteers from different locations and regions got together to celebrate God’s victories in ministry in the first six months of 2018, to fellowship and worship, to learn more about care for their souls, and rest.

Thank you, Women of Grace Church for being sincere, devoted, and sacrificial. Thank you for serving alongside the MTU pregnancy care team with your gifts and talents. You truly expand His Kingdom to the ends of the earth.

 

Curiosity Leads to Life and a Mission

Interview with Sveta Korolyova, MTU Pregnancy Care Counselor

Sveta, How did you learn about Mission to Ukraine?

Sveta: I grew up in the MTU’s neighborhood. You can see my house through the window of MTU.  However, before MTU appeared, the street was inhabited with people abusing alcohol. My parents always told me to stay away from that street, which I did.

Once in 2000 I heard rumors about an American building a center for women exactly on that street. The sign said “Women’s Center.” For some reason my husband suggested that I check it out.  He wanted me to go and find out what it was all about. After a few more suggestions from him, I went. To my surprise I met very nice women there. Even though I was an unbeliever and didn’t need pregnancy care counseling, we developed relationships and very soon I started attending a church with them. Thus my encounter with Mission to Ukraine became life-saving for me.

Oh, this is awesome. Was serving women on your heart from the very beginning?

Sveta: Crisis pregnancy counseling was unique to Ukraine. I admired the work they were doing, but couldn’t even think that God would call me to be a part of it.  A few months after coming to faith in Christ, I became a pregnancy care counselor.  A bit later I also began helping with our abstinence program for youth, led Bible studies for our women, and counseled women who wanted to leave their children in the hospital so that they would not leave them orphaned.  Today I am also involved in a lot of promotional work – sharing our pro-life vision with teachers, doctors, and churches. 

 Home Visit 2005

Home Visit 2005

So there are many facets to the title of a counselor here.  What is the most challenging part in your work?

Sveta: The most difficult part of our job is counseling at the abortion clinic. Unfortunately, doctors see women before we counsel them and warn them against us. At present women harden their hearts and counseling is more difficult than ever.  At the same time, God gives us breakthroughs and as of today 247 babies have been saved from abortion right in the clinics! 

Wonderful! That’s quite a number! You’ve been with pregnancy care ministry practically from the very beginning.  You have witnessed God’s guidance and miracles and become a part of them as well!

Sveta: Yes!  I am so grateful to God that today we have over 1700 children saved from abortion through MTU ministry in all our locations. I would say in reality this number is bigger. At times women leave counseling session uncertain about their decision.  So when they meet me in the street several months/years later saying: “This child is yours. Thank you!” my heart overflows with joy. I rejoice with them. This is my most favorite part of our work, for which I am most thankful.

 Bible Study 2005

Bible Study 2005

Praise God. Sveta, in conclusion of our interview, tell us what do you dream of for MTU?

Sveta:  Well, I dream of Ukraine without abortions and abortion clinics. I dream of all Ukrainian people seeing the value of every life and not even considering abortion. I dream of all our women we serve coming to Christ and joining churches. I believe, with God’s guidance, a lot can be accomplished. And I pray to see these changes in the near future!

Thank you, Sveta. May God bless you in your ministry and bless the desires of your heart to do His will.

This is but one of 50 staff members who make MTU what it is today.  It is your faithful prayer and financial support that make it all happen.  Thank you!

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!