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!

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.

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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. 

Kate_house.jpg

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?

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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!