Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"You Saved My Life"

When we were in Odessa, we visited a church attended by several college students and missionaries in Odessa. One of the American gentlemen I talked to was in Odessa specifically to minister to street kids. He told me that there are about 800 street kids in Odessa and the authorities mostly ignore them. That way they can sweep them under the rug and not have to admit the problem they have. He and a couple other people go out every evening at 10:00 PM and are out all night. I asked if I could go along sometime, but really, in the midst of our adoption process that really wasn't practical to be out all night. I regret not having the chance to do that, though. One of the times that Nancy, Mark, and I attended the church, one of the street kids actually attended the service. Unfortunately, he slept through much of the service. We were told he comes somewhat regularly.

Another reason I am interested in the street kids is because there was a boy in Sergey's class at #4 who was a former street kid and was severely injured in a tragic fire. He was sleeping in some kind of enclosure one night and some other street kids set his coat on fire as he slept. When he woke he had trouble getting out and was burning as he struggled. Somehow he survived and is now in the orphanage, getting treatment for his burns. We got to know him a little bit and noted his deformed hands and scars. He was always friendly to us.

I surfed into a blog of an American Presbyterian pastor named Robert Gamble, living in Odessa, Ukraine, who also has a ministry that reaches out to street kids called This Child Here. You may be interested in this ministry that is on the front lines in the battle for the Kingdom.

A couple of weeks ago, we were on a road trip out to the Black Hills to visit my mother who was visiting. We were talking with Sergey about his adoption and life back in Odessa, and he told Nancy and I that we saved his life. After looking at Pastor Gamble's blog, it is no wonder he feels that way.


adoptedthree said...

If we could only save them all!

I remember walking the streets alone in Odessa and seeing some of the boys come out of the sewers. It made me a bit leary but mostly it made me cry!

Conethia and Jim Bob said...

What a heart breaking story.

The McEacherns said...

On our missions trip in 2004, we worked with some of the homeless kids living in the sewers of Odessa. The church we worked with there was called Voice of Truth, and they have a regular outreach program to minister to these kids and actually reconcile them to their families. They try to do that rather than just supply the kids with food and thus encourage them to remain on the streets. Of course, some of the kids have no family to return to, so the church takes them in. It's a sad situation, but I am so glad to know that there are Believers there that are acting as Jesus' hands and feet to reach these kids.

The McEacherns said...

I just remembered that I posted a pic of our time with these kids. It's in my post on Nov. 19th, 2008.

Ashley said...

We also know the boy you speak of that was burned. Unfortunately, he is still making a lot of bad decisions and I am praying for him often.

I want these kids adopted so much. In just one year, I have seen really sweet kids turn into kids that have hardened hearts now, hanging out with the wrong crowd and doing things you just can't even imagine. I didn't see all of this last year and it has made me so sad seeing the way they are turning out just from 5th - 6th grade. They need families and positive influences. They need to be removed from this situation or they will not get better.