CWNews.com –This Christmas season a Ukranian children's choir, sponsored by CBN's Operation Blessing, came to the U.S. to perform for several churches.
But, there's something special about this group of kids.
Imagine living in an orphanage in Ukraine, then having the opportunity to travel to America and staying in American homes. That's exactly what 40 orphans from Berdansk, Ukraine have been doing for the past two weeks.
They are on a choir tour visiting several cities in the U.S. Each congregation they visit greets them with open arms. There are familiar activities, and new things to explore, and there are endless parties, sometimes with new games to learn.
Natalyia said, “For many, it was the first time ever, not only being out of the country, but out of the orphanage. It was a great time for everyone. They all had a great time.”
But, by far, what's most special is spending time with their host families. They live in an orphanage with 300 children. So to have the opportunity to belong in a home—if only for a few days—is a priceless treasure.”
Natalyia showed the children, “Look at the flag.” A child said, Yuroslov said, "American flag." Natalyia smiled and responded, “Very good.”
Then Natalya commented to us, “Yuroslov is a sweet boy, but he has always been shy and reserved. On this trip I've seen a transformation in him. Since he has been in the orphanage since birth, he's never known attention and love. Here everyone is giving him hugs and love, and he's responded and blossomed. He seems to come out of a shell. It's like a different child, no one recognizes him.”
Yuroslov answered my questions, and said, “I really like being in a family. They loved me and give me a lot of attention.”
But the sad fact is, if Yuroslov doesn't get adopted, he faces a tragic future. You see, kids in Ukraine "age out" of the orphanage at 16 years old. Most of them have nowhere to go except government dormitories where drugs and crime are rampant.
So, they all live their last years at the orphanage in anticipation of that—in fear that they will not make it. Tragically, their fears come true. Because they don't know how to handle work and life. Those still in the orphanage, know this. They know what happens to their friends. They know what happens to their brothers and sisters and they know themselves they are not equipped to survive.
That is why the choir has traveled to America, to raise awareness of the plight of orphans in Ukraine, and to ask people to help through CBN.
One of many ways CBN and Operation Blessing are already helping orphans in Ukraine is through training centers that teach job skills, and life skills to teens about to ‘age out.’
This is a great opportunity for these kids; they know it and are grateful.
“They are thankful and are studying with a desire to succeed. We are also teaching them how to live out their Christianity. They've been exposed to Christianity while they were in the orphanage because Ukraine is a Christian country. But they've never heard about how to have a personal relationship with Christ. We are teaching them that this is the only thing that will make their life successful.
Although the members of this choir have had a wonderful time in America, it is far more important that we are sending them a message: that they are not forgotten.
When you see these kids, you have to respond. There is no way you can not respond. Because you see their talents and you know what is going to happen to them in a couple of years, if they are not adopted or at least trained for work and life.
We need to care for these ‘widows and orphans.’ It's a commandment, it's not a suggestion. We all can play a role in the lives of these kids. Whatever we are called to do, we have to do it. Because God is the Father to the fatherless and He works through us, through you and me.”