Missionaries: ‘Ukraine War Has Orphans Crisis’
By Stefan J. Bos, Chief International Correspondent Worthy News
KIYV/BUDAPEST (Worthy News) – A U.S. Christian mission group warned Thursday of a significant orphans crisis due to the ongoing war in Ukraine.
The Illinois-based Slavic Gospel Association (SGA), which works in the region, said many “war-impacted and unwanted children” are taken to overcrowded orphanages.
Currently, there are already an estimated 600,000 children staying in orphanages across Ukraine, Russia, and the rest of the former Soviet Union, according to SGA estimates.
Amid the ongoing invasion of Ukraine, children were separated from family members desperately searching for them, SGA workers noted.
“The kids don’t understand why this is happening to them,” said Eric Mock, a missionary with SGA that supports local evangelical churches in Ukraine, Russia, and other nations of the former Soviet Union.
“The children assume there’s something wrong with them,” noted Mock, who frequently visits some of the orphanages. “They think they’re ugly, that they don’t matter, that no one loves or wants them. They’re depressed, lonely, and sometimes very angry,” he added in a statement obtained by Worthy News.
“The orphanages are often cold, depressing places where war-affected children, kids abandoned by drug-addicted and alcoholic parents, orphans, and other unwanted children cry themselves to sleep every night,” SGA said.
SGA president Michael Johnson said Christians should urgently intervene as a “staggering 84 percent of children in the orphanages will be there until they turn 18.” When they’re released into the community, they struggle to survive on their own, he said. “Studies reveal more than 8 out of 10 end up involved in crime, drugs, or prostitution, sometimes leading to suicide,” Johnson added.
“Only God can give them hope and turn their lives around before it’s too late,” Johnson said. “This is why it’s so crucial for local Christians to visit with children in the orphanages every week, showing them compassion and love, praying with them, telling them about Jesus, and reading Bible stories to them.”
SGA explained that it launched Orphans Reborn to support the efforts of local churches and “believers with a heart to show God’s love to these children and share the Gospel with them.”
Orphans Reborn “brings hope” to more than 14,000 orphans and abandoned children across Ukraine, Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Armenia. “And it’s growing with support from churches and individuals in the U.S.”
Local church volunteers — often braving dangerous, icy roads and temperatures 50 degrees below zero — visit the same orphanages week after week, SFA’s Mock explained. “They look beyond their own comfort to bind up the broken hearts of children who are unloved and unwanted.”
Sonya, who lives in an orphanage, said in remarks shared with Worthy News that her father has no time for her. Her mother is an alcoholic. The last time she saw her mom, “she just drank vodka,” Sonya said.
When Christians from a local Baptist church began visiting Sonya’s orphanage every week, she said she felt loved for the first time. “They told me about Jesus and said the Lord would take care of me. It brought joy to my heart.”
At another orphanage, church volunteer Luda said she took 10-year-old Vlad, an abandoned boy, under her wing. She takes Vlad to her home on the weekends, and now he calls her “Mom” she said. “Every time I come to pick up Vlad, 12 other children look at me with a questioning look that says, ‘What about me?’ God, if only I could, I would take them all to my place.”
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