First Baptist Dunn fostering dignity in Ukraine : Friday, July 15, 2005
July 15 2005 by Jeremy Watson

First Baptist Dunn fostering dignity in Ukraine : Friday, July 15, 2005
Friday, July 15, 2005

First Baptist Dunn fostering dignity in Ukraine

By Jeremy Watson
BR Intern

Ten members of First Baptist Church in Dunn will travel to Kiev, Ukraine in August to help convert the former site of a Soviet youth camp into a Christian foster care facility for homeless children.

By some estimates, the number of children in Kiev without homes is 40,000. Poverty has pushed many teenage girls towards prostitution and scores of male adolescents have developed drug habits like glue sniffing.

Len Keever, the pastor at First Baptist in Dunn, believes that the Village of Hope foster care center can redeem the lives of these children and restore a sense of dignity to them. The foster home will provide a supporting environment for children to study, excel in public schools and obtain jobs that will sustain them and perhaps benefit their parents.

Although many of Kiev's homeless children are orphans, the youth who will be staying at the foster care center are not, Keever says. Their parents live on the streets and are unable to give them the nourishment that they need to improve their lives.

If weather conditions permit, the crew from Dunn will lay the foundation for a wall and erect a fence to enclose the Village of Hope's 17-acre grounds. The wall and fence are being constructed to comply with an ordinance that requires foster homes to install protective barriers. On the week-long trip, the group also plans to worship with Bucha Baptist Church and get a glimpse of what life is like inside Kiev's homeless shelters.

Based on his prior missions experience in poor areas of Germany, Keever expects the church members he travels with to be enlightened by what they witness. "It will change their world-view to see how other people live," he said.

Keever is also aware of the possible dangers that his team could encounter. "There are risks that you don't take going to work everyday. It will be an exercise of faith," said Keever.

Fourteen years have passed since Ukraine was released from the grip of Soviet communism. Following independence, the nation endured its share of growing pains. Setbacks like high inflation and political corruption plagued the state for much of the 1990s and early 2000s.

But a silver lining has appeared in the new millennium. Late last fall, disgruntled Ukrainians came out in droves to challenge the results of a fixed election and demand a revote. The popular, non-violent movement known as the "Orange Revolution" succeeded and reformer Victor Yushchenko became the country's third president. Staying true to campaign pledges, Yushchenko is making government activity more transparent and globalizing Ukraine's economy.

Jim Fowler, missions coordinator for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina (CBF-NC), says that the Ukrainians he spoke with this year were more optimistic than in 2004. "The attitude, especially in Kiev and the larger cities is very positive. People freely talk about and celebrate the Orange Revolution," said Fowler in an e-mail interview.

First Baptist learned about the mission opportunity from CBF-NC. By the year's end, CBF-NC will have coordinated mission trips to Ukraine for 13 N.C. churches.

Ukraine was a favored missions location for First Baptist because of the church's ties to the region. Members have sponsored Belarusian children in past years.

Excitement from First Baptist's children's ministry also influenced the selection. When Keever entertained the possibility of going to Ukraine with his wife over dinner, Keever's son, who was learning about Kiev's street children in his RA class, exclaimed, "Mom, you have to do it!" The rest is history.

After plans for the trip were finalized, children at the church's Vacation Bible School raised $1,000 to pay for building resources.

7/15/2005 12:00:00 AM by Jeremy Watson | with 0 comments

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