By Candace Hall, Go Now missionary
I have always had a special love and passion for children. When I first heard about this mission trip to Ukraine in December, I immediately felt called to go. I saw no better way to spend my break than to share Jesus with orphans.
This was my first time to travel overseas, and I had no idea what to expect. During my 13+ hour plane ride to Ukraine, I tried to picture what exactly it would be like. It was nothing like I imagined.
The first morning in Ukraine, we drove around for four hours on torn apart roads to the first city we would be staying in, Kherson. That day was spent going through hundreds of boxes with brand new winter shoes, new socks, Russian Bibles and hand-knitted hats.
The rest of our time in both Kherson and Odessa was spent working in several orphanages, fitting children for new shoes and sharing the Gospel with them through a Gospel bracelet. The bracelet had a gold bead, which represented Heaven, a black bead representing sin, a red bead which represented the blood of Jesus who died on a cross, a white bead representing purity, and the last bead was green representing growth. We told the children if you believe and accept Jesus into your heart, then you should spend time growing in your relationship with him.
With the help of a translator, we had a pastor sharing about the bracelet with the children. Eventually, after watching a few times, he wanted team members to volunteer to present the Gospel. There was a day that I took that step and shared with the children. I am so thankful to have had that opportunity. I had every child repeat the prayer to accept Jesus, now if they all meant it in their heart or not is not for me to know, but I am honored to have been used by the Holy Spirit to at least plant seeds in these children's lives.
Going on this trip was eye-opening for me. The conditions these orphanages lived in were very depressing. As I wished I could do so much more than provide them winter clothes, I realized I was able to share with them the greatest gift of all, Jesus.
We were unable to get to one orphanage because our truck couldn’t get through the trees. This was just another example to show that even without new shoes, they were still able to hear about the greatest gift of all. It was very sad walking into that orphanage seeing the children lined up with old shoes already off and prepared for new ones. I did not walk out of that orphanage with any regret though, knowing that they now knew about a Saviour, who is greater than any new shoe they could ever receive.
I am so thankful for the team I worked with, the translators, and everyone who helped God’s work reach Ukraine. During my time there, around 35 orphanages were reached and around 4,000 children were able to hear about Jesus. This was not only a life-changing event for me to experience but also for the children who now personally know their Savior.