Eye opening…

How do you describe a three day trip that broke my heart and yet brought me so much hope?  Tuesday, the US Government put out a travel warning encouraging all Americans living in the Eastern region of Ukraine to leave. This happened just two days before my planned trip to visit with some charities and churches about working together to distribute wheelchairs to people in the East of Ukraine as well as the regions currently occupied by the Separatists.

Firmly believing God has been calling us to provide wheelchairs to Eastern Ukraine and the Occupied Territory, I knew I needed to make this trip to see the needs first-hand.  We drove to the city of Kramatorsk, and we passed directly through the city of Slovyansk, the former headquarters of the Separatist forces and the place of heavy fighting and shelling between the two armies last year.

Seeing the devastation was heart wrenching.  Many homes and businesses were completely destroyed.

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This was a business that was shelled and destroyed in Slovyansk.  We only went to one area near the main road to see some of the devastation, I was told not to go elsewhere because landmines have been left behind and many people have been hurt and killed.

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Here is a photo of where one of the shells hit.  In my hand is a piece of shrapnel from the explosive. There were many pieces lying around and embedded in trees nearby.

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On top you can see another house where the roof was partially blown away by artillery fire, there was a lot more damage on the other side of it as well.  And the bottom photo is a memorial to the soldiers who fought here.

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Circled in red is the city of Slovyansk where I took these photos.  Circled in green is the city of Kramatorsk where we slept and visited with some charities and churches.  The tiny circle in blue is the city of Artemivs’k where we delivered a wheelchair to one of the churches for someone in the Occupied Territory.  Also, I visited two hospitals in this city to find out what supplies were needed and how we can help.

In the city of Artemivs’k I met a young woman named Lena.  She has special needs and the family does not have a  wheelchair for her, so we took her measurements and will try to find a way to get one to her soon.   She was so sweet, it breaks my heart that there are many more just like her in need of a wheelchair on both sides of this war.

After meeting with these churches and charities we hope very soon to begin a partnership to send wheelchairs to be distributed to people in need.  Please pray, there is always a lot of paper work and red tape we have to go through to be able to distribute wheelchairs outside of the Kiev region in Ukraine.  There is a lot of paperwork for these churches and charities which can be discouraging for them too.   I believe all the pieces we need to do this were there on our trip, just pray the Lord will help put those pieces together.

While there was a lot of sad things we saw on this trip, I was greatly encouraged by how many people are willing to help.  Kostya and Dennis, who went with me on this trip were so helpful.  Thank you to everyone who prayed for our trip.

God bless,

Scott

A Friend in Need

“For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

With a heavy heart I write to you about the home situation of one of our campers, Vitaliy.

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Vitaliy, on the right, is one of the most positive people I have ever met in my life.  He is always such an encouragement to everyone around him.  The sound of his voice, saying “Horosho (good)”  in Russian every time I ask him how he is doing is something that I’ll never forget.  I even got it on video at our picnic, because of I love his enthusiasm so much.

 

In this video I just ask him how is he doing, and if he is having fun.  Vitaliy is around 29 years old.  This summer we hosted our first camp for older campers with special needs.  I’m so thankful, because I got to meet many great new capers like Vitaliy.   At camp, we spent time praying for Vitaliy’s mother.  She has a disease that causes poor circulation to the brain.  She has very little energy and has been bed ridden now for some time.

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Pushing Vitaliy in his wheelchair is his father Anatoliy.  Anatoliy is a Christian pastor, and a joyful person to be around like his son.  A month ago, Anatoliy went from preaching on a Sunday, everything seeming fine, to by Tuesday not even being able to get out of bed.  The doctors found that he had lung cancer and it was already very advanced.  When I first heard that Vitaliy’s  father was dying, it broke my heart, I know that his mother is in no condition to take care of him, Vitaliy’s sister has had her own health problems, and we are very concerned what will happen to Vitaliy if his father passes.

I decided to take four of our volunteers from camp to drive forty minutes away to the town Vitaliy lives in for a home visit.  We were told we might be coming to the funeral they felt Anatoliy was that close to death.  I took with me Pastor Kostya and three of our young volunteers.  We spent two hours speaking with Vitaliy, trying to encourage him and be  a comfort in this difficult time.  While you could see the sadness in his eyes when we arrived, he was still his jovial self, sharing his joy with all of us.

After two hours with Vitaliy, Kostya and I visited his father.  He had a very difficult time breathing, but he was very glad to see us.  He told us it was not our job, or his family’s job to cheer him up, but his job to cheer us up, because he knows where he is going.  He knew God was with him, and that he would be with God forever.  The strong faith was a great witness to all those around him.  I could see where Vitaliy received his joyful demeanour.    Anatoliy exemplified what it means to be joyful and give thanks in all circumstances, and to truly believe in his heart that to live is Christ and to die is gain.

We spent time praying for Anatoliy and his wife, we prayed for Vitaliy, we prayed that the Lord would provide for them, and that they would find comfort in Christ’s words, that because he lives, we too shall live (John 14:19)  We traveled to their home seeking to be an encouragement, yet I found myself being the one encouraged by Anatoliy and he said, go with God, and if I don’t see you again here, I will see you in heaven.

I write this because I hope all of us have that same hope in Christ, that by God’s grace, through faith, we will have eternal life.  I also write this because I would love your prayers for Vitaliy, his father Anatoliy, and his mother Maria.  As of writing this, Anatoliy is still alive, but continues to have great pain and difficulty breathing.  The tragedy that has stricken this one family at this one time could easily overwhelm and overtake take them.  But Anatoliy’s faith stands strong in the face of suffering, and his Savior is greater than the suffering, sin and death in this world.

Please pray for God’s provision for this family, for the expenses of medical bills, and for Vitaliy’s care as well.  One of my greatest fears is what will happen to our campers with special needs once their families can no longer take care of them.  Often, if there is no close relative to take them in, they will spend the rest of their lives in an institution.

Please pray for our dream of a village.  God’s Hidden Treasures has long been dreaming of a village for orphans with special needs in Ukraine.  A place where these children could have a life outside of an institution.  This village would include housing for people with special needs and disabilities like Vitaliy.  Now more than ever we see the need for this village.  I thank you for your prayers.

God bless,

Pr. Scott Yount