(Jedge here)…. after 4 rounds of Konjac and toasting to who-knows-what, my name affectionately sounds more like “Jedge”, in the mouths of Ukrainians on a midnight train to Odessa.
We arrived in Odessa at 5:30am and we fell out of our train in a haze, like Odysseus’ sea weary, road warriors.
Apparently getting foreigners drunk is the real Ukrainian tradition. We found this out from Nastia, a beautiful, young pastor at the Odessa Vineyard. Nastia and her fiancé, Andreas (a fellow Swede), have just started to pastor the church in Odessa. Oh, in case you are worried, we didn’t get drunk. Casey Jones watched his Konjac and we learned 30 different ways to say no thanks in Russian, Ukrainian and German.
There is nothing like being rocked to sleep on a train, only to be woken at 3am by the extreme heat and stuffy air of a soviet era train ride across Ukraine.
We arrived in Odessa, dropped our bags off at Andrea’s Apartment and then we took a taxi across Odessa to meet Alyona at a bus stop. From there we traveled outside of town, on a Marshutka (little bus), to an orphanage for girls with special needs.
It was a nice facility, with flowers and beautiful shrubs and trees landscaping the grounds. We walked into a small performance hall/theater where the girls started to make their way in to meet us. We got to give hugs, learn names and see their beautiful jewelry. They are so proud of their bracelets, necklaces, earrings.
We got to sing songs, do hand motions, laugh a lot, exercise, hear a story and do a craft. Alyona weekly spends time with these girls. She is such an amazing servant to these lovely children of God. As we left the orphanage I felt happy, but I also couldn’t stop thinking about the children that stay in beds most of the day, if not all day. So far, Odessa has clarified the need God has laid on our hearts.
Kim and I dream of a home for these children to get physically healthy, identify their delays, develop therapeutic treatment plans for them, held by loving arms everyday… as much as they want. Our dream starts with one home with 4-5 of these precious children and it builds.
This is a God-size dream, because right now these children are hidden. No one gets to visit them. This dream is not about warm-fuzzy, good-feeling ideas. Our dream, our hope is not in ourselves, not in man, not in goodwill, not in the social-gospel… Our hope is in Christ alone.
The same power that conquered the grave is at work here. His Kingdom is breaking into the present. He has moved thousands of his children, across the world, to make wrong things right in this situation.
He moved on Andrea Roberts to advocate for special-needs adoption; 500 children in the last 5 years. He met Alyona when she was 11-years old at a Sunday school. God has grippedJulia Nalle’s heart to let no child move out of the reach of adoption. She finds children who are about to age-out or go to an institution and she intercedes until they are adopted. He awoke our hearts to His children who are wasting away on beds, 18 months ago. Kim was doing the same thing you are doing right now; reading a blog about God’s children. You are one of us. How will you join in God’s expanding Kingdom? Are you supposed to pray? Yes, if nothing else you pray. Each of you will be a part of this great story of God’s love.
We also know that there is injustice wherever you focus your attention around the world. Each one of us is called to say yes to Father God. “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” – Romans 12:21 If your hearts are not burning for this issue, just ask God for your mission – if you don’t already know.
Well, we have 6 more days in Odessa Oblast to see what the Father is doing and bless it and be blessed by it too. Keep praying for the director of the “Lost Boys” orphanage. Pray that fear will go away and that she will experience the love of God in her heart. Because we know that “perfect love drives out fear.” 1John 4:18a
We are now heading out to buy our train tickets for the trip to Kremenchug on April 29 and to tour the ancient city of Одесса (Odessa).