A 2017 Team Member Report from Ukraine

Imagine having 30 minutes to gather whatever earthly possessions you can fit in a small box and then you and your children having to squeeze into a van, meant to carry 15 people, with 40 other people. As you speed out of the war zone you wonder what will I do? Will I ever be able to return to my home and if so will that home still be there? What condition will it be in if we are able to return to it? Where will we go now and what will we do until we can return? Your thoughts may be “my whole life was in that town, I have never traveled more than an hour from my home and every person I know lived there.” “I have no money and now I have no job and no contacts and nowhere to live!”

Don’t like that scenario? How about this one? Imagine working your whole life making a small wage while trying to raise 8 children. Your husband is an alcoholic and you watch him drink night after night. Often spending the little money the two of you make on vodka rather than food for the family. One night he drinks so much that he lays his head on your lap and blood runs out of his mouth as he dies of alcohol poisoning. By this time in life you have nothing saved and the kids are grown. They put you in a state run home. A home that also takes in released prisoners after serving 30 years for their crimes. That was 12 years ago, you have not seen or heard from your children or family since. You wonder if they are even still alive.

Or how about this story? You were born with a disability and your government decided your mother could not take care of you. So they put you in a home for the disabled. However they are afraid she cannot accept their decision so they won’t let her visit you because she might steal you back. Now you are 14 and this is the only life you have ever known and will ever know.

These are some of the people God allowed us to minister to on our 11 day trip to Ukraine with ServeNow. We saw a lot of pain and heartbreak. The first woman lived in a room with three other women. Her one roommate knew very little English but she did know the word “come”. She begged us to come back and visit more. She repeated “come” over and over again. “Come, come, come.” And that is the reason you should go. Not because it is easy, because it was not. We traveled 9 hours by plane, then 16 hours by train, then 5 by van to get there. We had little to offer them physically, but a shoe-box full of gifts. But we did have God’s love. I told them that their family may have forgotten them, but God had not. To be honest she did not believe me. But she may, if you go. Or perhaps when the next Christian goes and tells her the same thing.

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Yes, we saw a lot of pain and heartache, but we also saw a lot of smiles. Smiles as we handed out gifts to refugee families who had nothing to give their children for Christmas. Smiles as we stood in the cold grey day and gave hats to children whose family are outcasts because of their ethnicity. Smiles as we pulled those same hats down over their smiling face for fun, and smiles as we pretended to pull them back off. Smiles as we played games with beautiful disabled children. We did not just hand out hats and shoe-boxes of gifts, we also handed out God’s love. Sometimes that was just in a smile or a conversation but almost always it was also in the form of the Gospel. That Gospel might have been a New Testament or it might have been a solar powered audio device of Bible books and bible stories in their language stuffed inside a stuffed animal. And that is why you should go. There is no shortage of people who need the Gospel. The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. The pay is nothing, but the rewards are eternal and the smiles are endless.

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Check out some possible upcoming Mission Trip Opportunities with ServeNow here: ServeNow Mission Trips. Don’t procrastinate but fill out an application today!

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