I want to share words with you that will ring true in your heart this new year.
“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” —Romans 8:38-39, NASB
“I echo the sentiment of the apostle in these verses. I am convinced that nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. A worldwide pandemic and all of its accompanying fears cannot separate us. Unemployment or the close of our business cannot separate us. The enemy’s desires to fragment our society and drive us apart cannot separate us. You may be looking back over 2020 and wondering how you ever made it through. There is one answer for us who believe. It is the sustaining love of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. He carried us amid the chaos of this past year. You may be looking toward this year thinking, will anything change? Undoubtedly our circumstances will change. They even may go from bad to worse, but we can be assured of one thing: nothing in the seen or unseen world can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Enter into this year with boldness knowing that you are not alone. May you be filled with Christ’s peace in 2021.” —quote from Mark Fishel, a good friend of mine serving in Cambodia.
As the world around us changes, often more quickly than we can keep up with, our hope remains the same. I must admit I am privileged because where I live, I see tangible evidence of Christ’s presence daily. Life here is hard, it can be disheartening. Just as in Cambodia or the USA, some days seem almost brutal in one sense or another, but the One who walks by my side is ever present. He cares far more than I could ever imagine.
Thursday, January 14th we drove out to Kairy. One blessing along the way were the newly paved roads. It took us less than two hours to make the trip there, usually it’s closer to three. Slava Ivonov was our reason. We were set, ready to bring him out of the institution for the last time, that was the goal. We had his mother with us, after receiving the papers for her official guardianship five days later than expected, we were hopeful there would be no objections and upon arrival, as usual, the 9-foot-high, brown metal gate was securely closed and locked from within and the guard at the gate took his time in coming out to receive the expected guests. A big sign on the gate read QUARANTINE, so only Irina Ivanov was admitted. So we waited in the cold and snow with great expectation.
The joyful sounds of Slava with his mother, mixed with the tears of his nanny from the past five years, came sooner than we expected over the gate. As the large doors were opened Slava was greeting everyone and sharing his excitement with flailing hands and a huge smile on his face. The reality of the moment didn’t wear off for him until over halfway home, and for the rest of January he’ll be spending a belated holiday season with his mom. At the start of February, we’ll begin to have Slava out at Stephen’s Home two days a week and help him adjust to the new place, new faces, new schedules, exercises and church family. Thankfully some of the faces will be familiar too. That of Nadejda Borisevna, a teacher from the orphanage in Oleshky, who has known Slava most of his 25 years. She’s wanting to continue to be a part of the men’s lives, now that she’s retired from orphanage work. For guys like Slava, her presence is going to make adjusting that much easier.
I’d ask for your continued prayers for the formation and scheduling in Stephen’s Home as some of the “old way” of doing things will be left behind and not enforced, even by social services. Stephen’s Home is not an institution. Keeping that protective boundary is going to be a challenge, but one we want and need to protect. Because of being a provider of social services, much is required, but we are also a private home with a family that will be growing. Certain medical requirements and a presence of “officials” from multiple offices could cause a sense of nervousness and upsetting experiences for the young guys. Our hope as we begin is that daily life begins with the guys as the focus. Pray our staff will enable them to blossom and grow and all looking on will know that they are well cared for, NO QUESTIONS ASKED.
challenges that the director would concoct.
Slava, like each young man, needs to be sponsored. He has a good start, but you could be the next one to bless this young man’s life, begin a relationship with him, and help him know he’s valued.
Thanks to so many of you who helped to make this a possibility for Stephen’s Home. With snow and ice delaying a bit, the delivery and installation will be very soon.
Sponsoring Maksym and
Slava is very simple, just go to promise.org.ua/#sponsor
Hope for Orphans is our team. Riding, walking, and biking is how we are planning to raise support on March 22nd. Our team here in Kherson is growing, but we need nine more teams so we have ten teams total, each raising $3,000.
If you can get on the bandwagon with us, signing up is simple and easy at the Miles for Missions page. We really need the athlete inside of you, or the person who just loves walking. On the 22nd, share with friends “I’m going to walk for the orphans who will live in Stephen’s Home.” Get a couple friends to join you and let your church and friends know so they can sponsor you.