Spirit of Adoption Sweeps across Ukraine
KYIV, Ukraine -- A powerful movement is sweeping through Ukraine. Thousands of Christians are coming together to care for the fatherless.
With one voice and one heart families are mobilizing to make a difference in the life of every Ukrainian orphan. Now this spirit of adoption is spreading to other countries.
Svetlana and Evgeniy Isaev are part of Ukraine's orphan solution. To the human mind, it seems almost impossible. But spend time with the Isaev family and they'll soon convince you that with God all things are possible.
"The moment you see an orphan's eyes I promise it will change your life," said Svetlana who lives in the town of Mariupol, Ukraine.
Ten years ago Svetlana Isaev was a woman with a dark past. Evgeniy Isaev was a drug addict and HIV positive. Both had a radical encounter with Jesus Christ that changed their lives forever.
"I began to search for God, I could see the path that I needed to go on," Evgeniy said.
The couple's dream? To see their nation of Ukraine without orphans.
"If someone told me 10 years ago I would have these many children today and would be married to an HIV positive man, I would say that's humanly impossible," Svetlana said. "But God birthed in us something special."
Svetlana and Evgeniy became the first family in Ukraine to adopt a child with HIV -- Not just one, but seven HIV-positive children.
The Role of the Church
"If we want to see a Ukraine without orphans, Christians have to be part of the solution," Svetlana said.
And Christians are answering the call. Svetlana joined hundreds of pastors and Christian leaders from different parts of the globe in Kyiv recently for a summit on orphan care.
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Ruslan Maliuta, with World without Orphans, leads a grassroots movement committed to caring for Ukraine's orphans.
"God said that He is the father of the fatherless, which means He wants every orphan to be in a family," Maliuta said. "How is God going to do it? It's through the church. Adoption and providing a home for an orphan is an integral part of the Gospel."
The crowd at this summit is very serious about seeing a Ukraine without orphans. Sitting in the crowd, there are about 160 families that have either adopted a Ukrainian child or are today foster parents.
Gennadiy Mohnenko is one of them. He pastors Church of Good Changes in Urkraine and along with his wife they have 31 foster children.
"Should all families take 31 children in like we did? No. But if this movement is to have a lasting impact, Christian leaders must set the example and they are," Mohnenko said.
"The last few years God has been moving on the hearts of pastors to lead the charge," he said.
Paul Pennington works with Hope for Orphans, a Texas group helping Ukrainian churches with Bible-based orphan ministries. He said he is encouraged by what he sees happening in Ukraine.
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"Twenty years ago there was such a stigma against the orphan that Christians would fake pregnancy by carrying a pillow before they would take an orphan. Today we are preaching 'take the orphans home' in our churches," he said.
Honoring the Heroes
The public is taking note. At a nationally televised event that drew Ukraine's rich and famous, Svetlana and Evgeniy received hero status and were honored with the "Pride of the Nation" award for their heart for orphans.
There was hardly a dry eye in the crowd as people stood and applauded.
"We didn't think about any awards, we simply were doing what was on our hearts to do," Evgeniy said. "We have only God to thank. He shows us how to love the unlovable."
"Without Him we have no life. Without him my children have no hope," he said.
"Without him, the orphans of Ukraine have no hope," said Svetlana.