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Dnipro Mission Blog

Thank you to our faithful supporters

We are very grateful to faithful friends at Horley Baptist Church for their generous support of our work in Ukraine. Yesterday, I gave a brief presentation, showing a few photos of our ministry to a disabled home in Eastern Ukraine. The church responded by donating over £700 (mostly in small, individual donations) to support the work of DHM in caring for the residents.

DHM volunteers with members of Horley Baptist Church on 14/1/2018

 

When I spoke at Horley on Sunday, I was keen to stress the point that we do not view the residents in the disabled home as "objects of our charity." Instead, we think of these people as our friends, and we consider it a privilege and a blessing to help them in whatever way we can.

This is why when we visit the disabled home in Ukraine, we will not just leave our gifts at the door and shake a few hands. Rather, we'll spend quality time with the disabled and elderly people in the home - hearing their stories and playing board games (our favourites are snakes & ladders, draughts, and dominos!) with them. The advantage of visiting the same place year after year is that we recognise each other and we know each other by name.

We're also going to lead a service for the 163 residents, which will include singing, poetry and preaching words of encouragement.

Thanks to the generosity of Horley Baptist Church and other faithful supporters from countries as far and wide as Norway, USA, and Switzerland, we will be able to purchase a good supply of medical supplies. Since we've exceeded our fundraising targets for this trip, we're also able to purchase cotton towels, bars of chocolate and some fresh fruit for every resident at the disabled home.

Towel, chocolate and fresh fruit

 

Pastor Sasha with Ivan, one of the residents of the disabled home

 

Pastor Sasha and other DHM volunteers visited the disabled home in the summer of 2017

 

 

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An Audience with the Head of the Ukrainian Catholic Church

It was an honour to meet the Head of the Catholic Church in Ukraine, His Beatitude Archbishop Major Sviatoslav Shevchuk, at a recent event at the Royal Institute of International Affairs at Chatham House, London. 

The Archbishop gave a presentation entitled, 'The Mission of the Church in Ukraine Today'. He addressed three main issues:

(1) The democratic choice taken by the majority of Ukrainians to integrate with the rest of Europe in order to embrace European values of freedom, diversity, solidarity, respect and tolerance;

(2) The role of the churches in helping Ukrainian society transition from the stagnation and corruption of post-Soviet society towards an open future as an integrated member of the European cultural space;

(3) The specific role of the Ukrainian Catholic Church in its mission to serve Ukrainian society.

It was encouraging to hear the Archbishop refer to the ways in which the Ukrainian churches since the crisis of 2014 have sought to work together for the benefit of Ukrainian society. He called on the churches to embrace four core values of human dignity; commitment to the common good; solidarity; and collective responsibility for the whole of society. 

He also called on the churches to model the gospel values of forgiveness and reconciliation. He remarked that, "our Church's mission is to promote forgiveness and reconciliation between Ukrainians and Russians", and drew on examples from the Founding Fathers of the EU (who, he pointed out, were mainly Christians) and Pope Francis as illustrations of how reconciliation can become a visible reality.

Listening to the Archbishop I was reminded of my musings in the book that I co-authored with Mykhailo Cherenkov, entitled 'A Future and a Hope':

"Ukraine is not a whole or self–sufficient entity, but part of the European cultural space, and especially of its core: the central tradition of Christianity. If it remains outside of Europe, Ukraine will remain in a cultural limbo, where powerful forces and vested interests will seek to harness Ukraine’s economic, political and cultural resources to serve their own agendas, and the Ukrainian people will remain as pawns in an ill–fated civilizational battle between East and West. Outside Europe, all that awaits Ukraine is a new era of Russian–led serfdom—no courts, no free elections, no education, no medicine, and no freedom of movement. For only in an open dialogue, in a free world of permeating cultural ties can Ukraine overcome its cultural and scientific isolation, and emerge from the cul–de–sac of economic stagnation and endemic corruption."

It was a very encouraging and rewarding discussion and I'm thankful that Ukraine is blessed with wise leaders like Archbishop Shevchuk to provide moral and spiritual direction in this time of transition and geopolitical crisis.

 

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Delivering ex-NHS Equipment for Disabled People in Ukraine

Thanks to the generosity of our friends, family and various anonymous donors, we were able to send a dozen zimmer frames and a dozen sets of crutches to a disabled home in the Dnipro Region ahead of our trip later this month.

This equipment will make a huge difference to the people in the disabled home. Last time when we visited the home in February 2017, we saw residents trying to walk on warn-out sticks of rotting wood and moving around on improvised devices made from the damaged wheels of rusty supermarket shopping trolleys.

It is a blessing to be able to provide these people with purpose-built, aluminium walking aids. This equipment was donated by the NHS and was given to DHM through our contacts at the Romanian Aid Foundation at Horley Baptist Church.

We spent a pleasant evening disassembling the zimmer frames, getting them ready for delivery to Ukraine, making them as compact as possible in order to save on transport costs. We will reassemble them when we arrive in Ukraine in a few weeks time.

Thankfully, when the time came came to send them off, our prayers were answered and we were able to obtain a discount on the delivery costs and we covered all the costs with the £110 donation that we received for our 'Humanitarian Aid Appeal'. Thanks to everyone who donated generously to this appeal.

This is an ongoing appeal with a target of £1000, so please feel free to continue to support this fund, so that we can continue to send this equipment to the people in the disabled home who really need it.

The dozen sets of zimmer frames and crutches that we sent was hopefully just the start. There are 163 residents in the disabled home, so 12 zimmer frames won't be enough in the longer term. Many of the residents are bed-bound and/or paralysed, so they have different needs. We will visit these people when we (I and group from the UK) go on our mission trip later this month.

For these people we are currently raising funds for medicines, nappies, hearing aids and other essential supplies to help improve their quality of life. We're also looking forward to spending time with them, playing board games, singing, and putting on a music and drama concert for the residents.

Thanks for your support for the work of DHM!

 

 

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Videos from the Summer Camp

Each of these Youtube videos will give you an insight into some of the summer camp activities:

The First Session

Fun and Games

Excerpt from an English Lesson

Organising into Groups

Karine's Announcement

 

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So Difficult to Say "Goodbye"!

There's an old joke which goes something like this: What's the difference between the English and the Ukrainians? The answer: "English people leave without saying goodbye, whereas Ukrainians say goodbye without leaving!"

This week at the camp we were all Ukrainians. We knew we had to say goodbye, but the children were so amazing that it was really difficult. The "goodbyes" lasted at least half an hour. In the end, we practically had to physically remove the children from the DHM volunteers! Clinging tightly to the team, the children didn't want us to leave and it was so sad to say that we needed to say goodbye. We assured them that we'd be thinking and praying about them when we went back to the UK and that we were already looking forward to seeing them again next year!

Here are some photos from the time when we had to say our goodbyes.

 Luke from London made a new friend!  Rob, a student training for ministry at Spurgeon's College, says farewell  And Laura from Devon, also a student at Spurgeon's College, says her goodbyes This was the youngest child at this year's summer camp. He was declared to be the sweetest by the DHM team! He answered all the questions correctly in the Bible knowledge quiz at the end of the camp. Molodyets! 
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