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Mennonite Weekly Review: Hope for orphans in Ukraine

November 15, 2011, 11:50 3010 Author: By Jamie Munday MB Mission www.mennoweekly.org In much of Ukraine, hopelessness among adults has darkened the future of its youth

Evelyn Wiens embraces two teens in Zaporozhye, Ukraine. Wiens’ church plant, New Hope Church, recently started a training center for orphans to learn marketable skills. — Photo by MB Mission

In the last century, the people of Zaporozhye have experienced tremendous upheaval: occupation and liberation, prosperity and poverty, hope and despair.

In the 1920s, Lenin’s “New Hope” through industrialization was followed by the “Great Terror” of Stalin and famine in the 1930s. The end of World War II in 1945 brought renewed optimism but resulted in food shortages, ethnic conflict and political distrust.

By 1990, the idea of independence rose again. Ukrainians’ spirits were lifted, only to be dashed as they watched their country disintegrate into inflation, corruption and economic collapse.

Orphaned children are in abundance across the country. Barely existing from day to day, many orphans are in prisons, run-down orphanages or trying to survive on the streets.

Maxym and Anya Oliferovski are helping local orphans break the cycle of hopelessness that has been passed down to them.

With the guidance of MB Mission workers John and Evelyn Wiens and volunteers from their church plant, New Hope Church in Zaporozhye, they have started a drop-in center for orphan “graduates” — teenagers who are released from state orphanages with no family, marketable skills or hope for the future.

MB Mission is the global mission agency of the U.S. Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches and the Canadian Conference of Mennonite Brethren Churches. The Wienses’ home congregation is Gracepoint MB Community Church in Surrey, B.C.

For the past year, New Hope Church has provided vocational training in cooking, woodworking, graphic design, basic home renovating and personal grooming at New Hope Center. As the center continues to develop, Maxym Oliferovski’s vision is to offer more courses that will contribute to transformation of the whole person.

“Beginning with the trade school, we would like to house young adults in group homes where they receive counseling and mentoring in a Christian environment,” he said.

The church has already become a hub of activity during the week, with orphans dropping in for classes, Bible study and social activities. Volunteers also visit many of the orphanages in the region, building relationships so teens will be more likely to visit the center after they’ve graduated.

“The orphans come to the beginning of their adult lives being set for failure,” Oliferovski said. “They do not know it, though. They can just feel it inside — empty and hopeless.”

The training center is an example of holistic ministry: churches meeting deep needs of those who are least likely to find hope in Christ.

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