MTU’s 20th Anniversary of Ministry

Dear MTU Partners,

This month marks MTU’s 20th anniversary of ministry in Zhitomir.  What started as a ministry in a small office in the Zhitomir City Hospital with a staff of 3 to counsel young women to choose life for their babies has grown into the multifaceted work that all of you, with God’s provision and leading, have helped us realize.  On behalf of the Board, our leadership and staff in Ukraine, and for the thousands of lives touched and changed for the last 20 years, we say thank you from the bottom of our hearts.

We never could have dreamed that we would now have 42 as part of our staff, regularly engage an army of over 264 volunteers, or be blessed with the facilities and partners that allow us to do the work God has led us to do.   It is through many small steps of obedience to and faith in God that have led us to the place we are now, serving hundreds of families, young women, and children with special needs weekly through the wide range of programs including counseling services, rehabilitation, physical and occupational therapy, school readiness and preschool programs for our children with special needs, Bible studies for adults, medical care to name just a few.  Of course this list would be incomplete without mentioning the summer camp programs that provide a life giving week of hope, relaxation, fun, and introduction to the love of Christ to our families and children, and the work we are blessed to do with our local church and ministry partners at the Romaniv Orphanage.  We rejoice over the 1615 babies that have been born as a result of the tireless effort of our staff and the hundreds of children served in our Rehabilitation program.

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We are grateful for our partners and volunteers from the US and other countries who have blessed our staff and those we serve by traveling to Zhitomir to labor along side our staff.  You have given of your time, talent, and treasure to bless the most vulnerable in Ukrainian society.

Most importantly, through these very practical and tangible services, those we serve have been shown the love of Christ and, as a result, many have made the decision to surrender their lives and follow Him as their Savior and Lord.   

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We look forward to what God has in store for us in the coming months and years. 

Again, on behalf of the Board of Directors, thank you from the depths of our hearts for your prayers, your gifts, and your service to this exciting movement of God in Zhitomir, Ukraine.  I know speak for all of them, that is one of the greatest blessings of our lives to have been able to serve and help steward this ministry.

God Bless

Ken Ney, MD

Chairman, MTU Board of Directors.

15 Years of Camps: Heaven on Earth

I am actually grateful to God for my disability; otherwise I would have never been invited to this camp and experienced so much love.
— David, teen with cerebral palsy

Words cannot adequately describe what just took place at Mission To Ukraine’s annual camp for kids with disabilities.  Each year is even more dynamic than the year before.  It has been described by many as “Heaven on earth.”  I wholeheartedly agree. The minute the kids and parents arrive they are greeted with smiles, hugs, and helping hands. The week is packed full of games, crafts, food, boat rides, inflatable slides, puppets, songs, and devotions. The highlight of the week is Special Olympics, where every child participates in events - and at the end is awarded a gold medal and cheers from the entire camp. Joy radiates from their faces and tears stream down the parents’ grateful smiles to see their children receive such attention.

Celebrating 15 years of overnight summer camps for children with disabilities

Parents are also given a rest because volunteers spend the day with the children. Moms and dads are in small groups, which offer devotional messages and prayer time for their needs. Moms express the joy of having three meals prepared for them each day and not having to cook. Dads enjoy knowing they are not alone in the struggle to provide for and raise a child with special needs.  The spirit of the camp is overwhelming. Every day there is laughter and joy throughout the camp. Yes, there are burdens to be shared, but joy permeates the environment. At the end of the week, an invitation is given to parents to receive Christ. This camp was a special blessing: 29 parents received Christ!  One father, always attentive during our daily devotions, put his faith in Christ and said, “this camp has changed my whole worldview.”

MTU overnight summer camps 2017
I am thankful to the Lord for giving me my “sunny child,” Vera (girl with Down Syndrome). Thanks to my Vera I had the opportunity to fellowship with volunteers from the United States as well as staff and volunteers here in Ukraine. Their lives are truly devoted to the Lord; and they show it by helping children like mine. These volunteers are truly the hands and heart of the Lord on earth!!!
— Tonya Tugas, mother.
Tonya and Vera

Tonya and Vera

Over 100 children with disabilities and 92 parents were served during our two camp sessions. Sure, it costs a significant amount of money.  But there is no doubt in our minds that the investment made in the lives of these kids and their parents is well worth the return!  What price can you put on a soul? Only God knows what happens within the hearts of parents and campers, but for those of us who volunteer, we will never be the same! Thank you all who gave, prayed and volunteered. May God bless you 100 fold!  Our cup runneth over!

Don Lawton,

MTU Vice President

Much More than Pregnancy Care

At Mission to Ukraine we care very deeply about mothers facing unexpected pregnancies.  Our staff and volunteers lovingly offer these precious women the counseling, medical care, and practical support they need to get back on their feet.  And as we do this, we are blessed with a very holy “window of opportunity” to introduce them to Christ, the Source of everlasting life, love and support.

 

Just two weeks ago, thanks to a wonderful group of volunteers from Indiana, 57 Ukrainian women experienced grace, love, and care in a way many had never dreamed possible at our annual Women’s Conference.  Not only did they make new friends, they spontaneously began helping each other by sharing kids’ clothes (hand-me-downs) and praying for each other!  It was amazing to hear so many of these women testify how this little retreat helped them come to know God in a more intimate and personal way!   Thank you, WOMEN OF GRACE CHURCH from Noblesville, Indiana for sharing your hearts and time with us.  You truly made an eternal impact!

Here’s what Nastya had to share about her life and camp experience:

Nastya and her baby boy at worship yoga (first left to right)

Nastya and her baby boy at worship yoga (first left to right)

I gave birth to my first baby when I was only 17. Four years later I got pregnant again. Neither my husband nor our parents wanted this child. They told me I should have an abortion to “do away with this problem.”  However, my aunt suggested I talk to one of the counselors at Mission to Ukraine (where she had previously received services).  She said they would help me and support me.  The next day I showed up at the MTU office - scared, asking for help - not knowing what type of help they could offer.  I received a very warm welcome from one of the counselors. She helped me realize what a horrible thing abortion was - that God gave me a gift of a child and I shouldn’t reject it!  They offered me emotional, practical, and spiritual support.  They even invited me to their Bible studies.  After several months I gave birth to a wonderful baby boy - a child whom I now love so deeply.

At first I didn’t have much faith in God and didn’t take Him or the Bible seriously. But thanks to the Bible groups and personal witness of God’s work in my life, I opened my heart to Him, receiving Him as my Lord and Savior.  Now I know He is with me and my children all the time. He watches over my family. Glory to our Father God!

This year I got to attend Women’s Conference for the first time. I am so thankful that God guided me there. The best way I can describe it is that “these days were like a fairy tale for me.” I didn’t want to leave! I got to meet new people. Our US group leaders – they are fantastic women. But best of all - I got to know God in a new way that will continue with me for years to come.


Year to date 158 children saved from abortion via services provided by the staff and volunteers at Mission to Ukraine’s 5 counseling locations.  We praise God and give Him all the glory!!!

Welcome Steve Boles, our New Executive Director

Dear Friends and Supporters of MTU,

As we move into the very busy camp season for the staff and volunteers in Ukraine and for the teams traveling from the US, we would like to take this opportunity to update you regarding the leadership of MTU.

For the last year and a half, David Helmer has very capably and willingly served as Interim Executive Director of MTU.  He has guided the ministry well and has overseen continued growth of the work in Zhitomir.  Along with David, Ira Venglovska, Director, Ukraine has led the staff and volunteers in the day to day ministry to women, children, and families facing the challenges of crisis pregnancies and special needs.  Together they have done an awesome job of carrying out the mission God has laid on our hearts.  We want to thank David for his term of service to MTU in this role.  As this role comes to an end, he will transition back the the Board of Directors and will serve on the Executive Leadership Team.

It is our privilege and pleasure to announce that Steve Boles has been hired as the next Executive Director of Mission to Ukraine.  

At the MTU overnight summer camps 15th anniversary

At the MTU overnight summer camps 15th anniversary

Steve has been intimately involved with our “family” for more than a dozen years.  As the founder and executive director of Mark 2 Ministries, Steve has provided training and support to an international staff in 8 countries - encouraging the evangelism, discipleship, and local church integration of individuals who have disabilities.

Over the years, he guided Mission to Ukraine staff in church integration of people with disabilities in Zhytomir, led 3 camps for deaf children alongside our Mission to Ukraine camps, and continues to be a strong advocate for the sanctity of human life!

Integration of people with disabities into churches conference 2014

Integration of people with disabities into churches conference 2014

While Steve was leading these endeavors, he was also a business owner of a successful translation company overseeing a staff of over 100 individuals speaking over 30 languages. He sold that business a few years ago in order to spend more time with his growing family of grandchildren (now holding steady at 3 - one of whom was born just a few days ago!)

Steve has been married to Debbie for 32 years.  They have 2 grown children and 3 amazingly cute granddaughters (he wanted me to mention that part again).  He loves listening to and playing classical piano, travel, and jogging.  But most of all, he loves Jesus Christ.

We are excited to see what the future holds under Steve and Ira’s leadership and stewardship of this ministry God has given us.  We look forward to keeping you up to date and well informed of all the happenings of MTU.

 Thank you again for your prayers and support.

 Ken Ney, MD, Chairman MTU Board of Directors.