Night to Shine

NTS Tim Tebow final

God’s Hidden Treasures Church of Hope is proud to be an official host church for Night to Shine sponsored by the @TimTebowFoundation on February 9, 2018!  Night to Shine is an unforgettable prom night experience, centered on God’s love, for people with special needs ages 14 and older.  To learn more and see the more than 450 churches that are already part of this worldwide movement, visit http://www.timtebowfoundation.org #NightToShine

Nita and I have both been in the US speaking at different churches in August, so we haven’t posted much here on the blog.  But I’m very excited to announce that we have been sponsored by the Tim Tebow Foundation, to host Night to Shine in Ukraine.  I saw Tim Tebow on the Tonight Show speaking about Night to Shine, and dancing with a young girl with special needs and thought it would be amazing to host this event in Ukraine.  We applied and have been approved.  Praise the Lord!  And keep the event in your prayers.  Check out the official video from last year!

Advertisements

The Village: A Dream 21 Years in the Making

This has been a historic week for God’s Hidden Treasures and here’s why!

21 years ago God gave Nita Hanson a dream to build a village for orphans in Ukraine.

https://www.godshiddentreasures.org/the-village-dream

 

264001_668831175370_4424001_n

 

 

Over the years she has built strong relationships with local mayors, pastors, the orphanage directors and even signed a 50 year lease on land to build the village. However, the time to begin building never came. Over the last 21 years our wheelchair ministry has grown from 3 wheelchairs brought in on a Delta flight to large containers bringing 300-500 wheelchairs ever year.  Each one is personally delivered and fitted to the recipient, offered with a Bible and prayer.  So many of our most meaningful relationships began with a mobility aid personally given.

While this ministry and others multiplied and thrived, the village dream had been simmering for over 20 years until God’s timing was right. Little did we know just how much God was working behind the scenes preparing a very important meeting last week. Last year, Kurt and Cindy Petrich who are planning on coming to Ukraine as full time missionaries were introduced by a friend of Nita’s to the personal adviser of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.  The advisor, Nickolai Kubela has been charged with reforming the orphanage system in Ukraine.

 

This led to a meeting in Kiev last month with Nita, Kurt, Cindy, and Nickolai.  Nickolai shared his vision for orphanage reform in Ukraine and Nita shared the dream of the village.  The adviser was intrigued by Nita’s dream, but was leaning toward a similar plan of his own.

Nikolai

The first meeting (left to right, Kurt, Nikolai, Cindy, Nita)

 Nikolai asked for another meeting, and asked if Nita could gather some Pastors from the Bila Tserkva area and some local mayors, to discuss the idea of reform a little further.  Nita in just a week was able to gather, the mayor of Fursy, the Kiev Region, three orphanage directors and two pastors.

This time the meeting was held at the President Poroshenko’s Office building.  The adviser again shared his vision and plan for the orphanages, point by point.  But during the meeting, the mayors and orphanage directors all shared about the dream for the village, and how Nita has been in Ukraine so long helping people, and she keeps her promises, Nita really didn’t need to open her mouth to share about her dream for the village.  Nita showed that in our region, all the pieces are already in place, to do something about the orphans in our region.  The local government, churches, orphanage directors, are all willing to do something.  Nita wants this village to be an example, that all other regions in Ukraine can follow, getting orphans into small homes, with adopted parents who have been educated in how to care for children with special needs.

Kiev meeting 2

Meeting #2

Well, a week after the meeting, Nita received this email from Nikolai, the President’s adviser in Kiev.

“Hi, dear friends, Nita, Kurt and Cyndi,

 

Thank you so much for the wonderful time we have spent together. We (in Kiev) are ready to go forward together with you. Think please about the pilot project being in the region you take care of.  At the meetings, we realized that there is an amazing potential in your region and that all resources are already in place, i.e., your organization, the churches and the authorities are ready for these changes.

Meanwhile any project should be started with the assessment of the communities, children and family’s critical needs. Together we can define the priorities for your region, take the first steps in reforming the child care system and create a successful model for the rest of regions all over the Ukraine.”

 

Nita’s own words

“To say this is amazing doesn’t come near to telling the immensity of all of this.  To think that God’s Hidden Treasures is going to be used as the pilot project for Ukraine’s reform of the orphan system is beyond my capability to comprehend.  God has been orchestrating all of this these past 21 years since He gave me the dream to build a Village.  And He has steadfastly been putting all the pieces, including governments, in place.  I am rejoicing and more than humbled to be allowed to be a part of this.  So many people have faithfully prayed over the years for the Village to be built.  Wow!!!  I have found myself praying the words that King David wrote in Psalm 8 throughout the day:

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
 The moon and the stars, which you have ordained,
 What is man that You are mindful of him,
 And the son of man that You visit him?”
Love and blessings to all of you, Nita
Please be praying for God’s Hidden Treasures, as we are working with the Mayor’s, Pastors, Orphanage Directors  putting the final plan together to give to Nikolai the President’s adviser.  For the next few weeks there will be lots of meetings, and much to do, but it is all very exciting to see what God is doing.  Thank you for your prayers!

Celebrating the 5th of July

No, that is not a typo.  The 5th of July, 2017 marks the three year anniversary of the liberation of the city Kramatorsk, in Eastern Ukraine, from Russian backed separatists.  This weekend, I took a trip with Bruce and Donna Culver, and my wife Lena,  to the city of Kramatorsk to view a possible manufacturing plant for wheelchairs in Ukraine.

20170704_154314

A memorial to the soldiers of the war

We were taken on a tour of Sloviansk and Kramatrosk. We saw a hospital, school and kindergarten that were all bombed by the Separatist forces.  There were so many homes that were completely left in ruins.  It was a strong reminder, the seriousness of the current conflict that is still ongoing in the East of Ukraine.  While it might not be reported on in the USA, fighting is still happening daily.  Please continue to pray for Ukraine, that God would bring peace, and reunite this country.

Below are some of the photos of the possible site for wheelchair manufacturing that I took on our tour with Bruce and Donna Culver.  Bruce and Donna are long time friends of Nita Hanson from Southern California.  Nita worked for Bruce before coming to be a missionary in Ukraine.

 

The Manufacturing Plant

Please be praying for wisdom for God’s Hidden Treasures on how to pursue this dream to produce children’s wheelchairs here in Ukraine.  This last week, Dr. Phil Gassman a professor from Iowa State University visited us in Ukraine.  He is helping us partner with graduate students in the engineering department at ISU to develop a design for a wheelchair to help with the poor conditions of roads and the lack of handicap accessibility here in Ukraine.

 

On the trip, we visited with Vallodia, our partner in the East, who went through our wheelchair seminar and is in charge of distributing wheelchairs to the East of Ukraine.  Through us, they received a shipment through God’s Hidden Treasures from Joni and Friends.

20170704_150844.jpg

Of those nearly 200 wheelchairs that we sent, here are the only two remaining.  Two smaller chairs that they haven’t found anyone to give to yet.  The need for wheelchairs in Eastern Ukraine is very great, and it is on top of the hundreds of wheelchairs we give out in Bila Tserkva.  Please pray that God would continue to provide wheelchairs for God’s Hidden Treasures.  If you want to support God’s Hidden Treasures, visit our website https://www.godshiddentreasures.org/support-us or contact me atukrainepastor@gmail.com

God bless,

Pastor Scott

VBS CAMP 2017

God’s Hidden Treasures Camp 2017

P1000396

This summer a team of 8 Californians came to us through The Sending Place mission organization to run a camp for children with disabilities.  We had a fantastic team who were true servants, completely focused on loving these kids with all their hearts this week.

(Left photo, from left to right, we have Rylie, Cindy, Phyllis, Marjorie, Erik, Kim, Grace and Janet)

This was our 14th year of hosting  summer camps and yet this year was truly a unique situation.  For the first time we invited campers from the war-torn East of Ukraine to join us.  It was an amazing outreach to these children and their families who came with them. When they arrived, fresh off of a 15 hour train ride, I witnessed something incredible.   A young girl Anya from the east got out of the van, went right to another girl from Bila Tserkva, who was new this year to camp, introduced herself, and became instant inseparable best friends.   It was so fun to watch these two together all week helping each other wherever they went.

19577213_691475087708081_2575735955232382948_o

Anya and Lena, instant best friends!!

To add to the uniqueness of this year, we also invited three young sisters from one of the local orphanages Valoshka.  They came from a broken home but were able to become part of a new family this week.  The whole camp of moms were watching out for them and helping their grandmother take care of them.

Phyllis handing out the awards to the three sisters.

God worked powerfully in the lives of these families through this Sending Pace team.  The kids learned about the love of Christ, and how God can carry us through any storm in life.  The week involved daily Bible studies, crafts, worship songs and much more.  Every night the kids had an opportunity to share their talent with the group.  The last talent show of the week was the moms singing songs thanking the American team and the GHT staff for the camp.

While the team has made it home safely back to the USA, we look forward to continuing our ministry to these children.  They are all invited to our annual picnic, and they have been told about our plans to begin church services for people with disabilities at the local CP Center.  Thank you so much for all your prayers for our camp.  One of our campers from the East, Nikita will be having an operation on his leg around the 5th of July, so please keep him in your prayers.

19620529_691470464375210_8941495941030654808_o

Nikita working on his craft with Epic, oh wait, I mean Erik.

 

God bless and thank you for your prayers

God’s Hidden Treasures

Urgent Prayer Request

Nita’s grandson Jacob died in a car accident yesterday.  He was 26 years old.

jacob and mandy 2017

Nita just arrived here in Ukraine on Monday and was completely brokenhearted when she heard the news.  Please keep her and her family in your prayers.  Pray for comfort and peace for the family in this difficult time.  Pray for wisdom for her as she considers arrangements to attend the funeral.  The whole office was there for her today giving hugs and listening to Nita tell stories about her grandson.  Thank you everyone for your prayers, and your love for Nita.

Below is another photo and words from Nita about her grandson.

unnamed

 

Jacob with his nephew.

“Jacob was 26, a young man with the kindest, most generous and loving heart I have ever known.  He cared nothing about material possessions and everything he got, he always ended up giving to someone who he felt needed it more.  A loss for our family and everyone who knew him.  He was part of my heart.”
Blessings, Nita

 

 

So it begins!!!

This Friday we head to camp!  Sunday the kids arrive and the crazy summer of 17 gets started.  This summer we have two camps, a VBS at the Boy’s Orphanage, our summer picnic for the disabled, and lots of important work on designing a wheelchair for Ukraine.  I’m very excited, and can’t wait to get started this weekend.  If you want to know what our camp is all about, watch our video!

I’m always excited for the Sending Place team to come and this year is no different.  We have an amazing team heading this way.

sending place

From left to right we have Riley, Cindy, Phyllis, Marjorie, Erik, Kim, Grace and Janet.  Some have been many times to Ukraine and for some this will be their first mission trip. Please pray for the team as they travel this Thursday.

Nita just arrived in Ukraine yesterday for the summer.  She is very excited about all God has planned this summer.  Please keep our camp in your prayers this weekend and next week.  This camp will be very special, we invited 5 children and their moms from the East of Ukraine, where the war is taking place.  We also have many young kids coming for the first time.  One of the orphanages we have worked with for the last 20 years closed down this summer, and we have invited 3 young sisters from that orphanage to come to camp.  Check out some photos from past camps, and keep us in your prayers.  God bless,

Pastor Scott

 

Meet Our Staff

Liliya Yatsenko

P1000218.JPGI have the pleasure to share with you about our office manager Liliya.  She has worked for God’s Hidden Treasures for 13 years.  Like many of our staff, she came to know Nita through one of Nita’s Bible studies.  God would change her life, and through Liliya many lives have been changed.  Liliya spends countless hours overseeing and scheduling all the different ministries that are going on at GHT. She does so much behind the scenes work in preparing our camps for the summer, scouting out locations, contacting the director, the campers, all the families, along with finding new children to come to camp. She keeps everyone on track, and helps figure out the logistics for every big event we have.

5AiaSkUGtoULiliya helping lead a seminar with Nita.

Liliya has a huge heart for ministry on top of her many responsibilities; she leads a grief counseling group for those dealing with the loss of a loved one as well as a Bible study for caregivers.  We often found the ones in the family caring for those who were sick, became sick themselves, and wound up worse than the one they were caring for.  The 24/7 job of caring for a loved one with a stroke or disability can feel like a prison, and people find themselves in a situation where no one understands what they’re going through, and there is no one to whom they can talk.  These are the people whose lives have been changed by Liliya as she shares the hope of Christ with them, showing them they are not alone, that there are many going through the exact same thing.

P1000139

Liliya leading the Grief Support Group

 

Liliya has a husband and two daughters.  She has been married for 44 years.  She and her husband met in Bila Tserkva, 47 years ago.  Liliya has one grandson who is 10 years old and her first granddaughter is currently on the way.

When asked what her favorite part of working with God’s Hidden Treasures was, she said it is working with the youth.  For many years she has been involved in our young campers program, having youth group meetings throughout the year for kids from our summer camp.  Helping their lives and seeing them grow through the years brings great joy to her heart.  Her strong faith and incredible love for God’s people has made a huge impact on Ukraine.  We are blessed to have her at God’s Hidden Treasures.  Please be praying for Liliya and all of our staff at GHT, that the Lord would continue to work through them in powerful ways to reach the forgotten of Ukraine.

Finding Family

“You’re child has a rare disability, you need to have an abortion.”  “Your son’s disability will be too difficult and too shameful for you and your family, you need to give him up to the state.”  For years during the Soviet Union, this is what moms were told by doctors.  Many moms of children with disabilities were pressured to have abortions, and even more were compelled to give their children to state orphanages to be raised.

Parents made these decisions with heavy hearts.  Moms who gave their children to the orphanage did so because they thought it was best for their child.  Every week we minister to children who have grown up in the orphanage system in Ukraine.  Five of our office staff goes every week to different orphanages to teach the Bible, play games, do crafts, sing worship songs, and love the children.

Most of these children will spend their whole lives in institutions, but every now and then, we are blessed to see a child leave the institution, to become part of a family.  Many years ago, a young boy, Michael, was adopted from the Baby House orphanage in our city Bila Tserkva, by a family in Arkansas. Doctors told Michael’s parents he would be born with a rare condition known as Amyoplasia and that they should consider abortion.  His mother chose life for Michael, but because of his severe medical needs, gave him up to the state orphanage, hoping he would receive the medical care he needed.

bubby Ukraine

Michael (right) at the Baby House Orphanage in Ukraine

Michael was found by a family from the US and adopted.   In America he went through many operations and eventually was able to walk.  He attends school in the US, learned English, excels in Math, and is a very polite, loving child.

Bubby

Michael in the US

When he was a little older, his US parents told him something that was quite a shock to him.  He had a twin brother, who still lives in Ukraine, with his birth parents.  Ever since he found out he has a twin, Michael desired to meet him someday.  A few weeks later we received a message on Facebook from Stacey, Michael’s mom in the US, asking for our help getting in contact with his birth parents.  Stacey’s heart broke when she saw a video online of two twins who grew up in different countries reunited for the first time on an American talk show.  She began praying about facilitating a meeting between Michael and his twin and eventually contacted us.bubby 2

Michael and His Mother Stacey

Our staff went to work, Liliya, our office manager phoned the orphanage, found out the family lived out in one of the villages 40 miles away, with no internet and no email.  So, we had to get creative.  Stacey Skyped us, and we called the family by phone, and with Tanya from our office acting as the mediator, the two moms spoke for the first time.  The mom’s first question was if her son could now walk.  She prays and thinks about him every night.

The mom in Ukraine agreed to talk on the phone with Michael.  I was there with Tanya helping to make that first conversation with his birth mom happen, and all of our eyes were tearing up.  The mom was so happy to hear her child is healthy and doing well, it is best she could have hoped for.  Michael, had so many questions about his Ukrainian family.  He discovered, not only does he have a twin, but he has a little brother as well.  The families continue to keep in contact, and discuss the possibility of meeting someday, for now the brothers in Ukraine do not know they have a brother in the US.  It amazes me that Michael, who grew up in an orphanage in Ukraine with no family, now has two families.  He was blessed with an American family, a mom and dad who took him in and lots of siblings in the US, and now his birth family is slowly becoming part of his life too.  God worked powerfully in Michael’s life, God has big plans for him, and he is an incredibly fun, God loving child.

bubby and sister

Michael and his Sister, both adopted from Ukraine.

Our hope at God’s Hidden Treasures, is that every child in the orphanage would have a family.  That Michael’s story could be every child’s story.  Our dream is of a village for the children, where every orphan could live with host parents, and experience the love of a mom and dad.  There is so much work to be done and many obstacles to overcome, to make this dream come true, but with God all things are possible.  The God who found a loving home for Michael, can find a home for all His children.   Please pray for the village, that God would open all the right doors, and stir in the right people’s hearts, so that we can make a difference in these children’s lives, for they are God’s family.  I’ll leave you with Michael’s recap of his first conversation with his birth mom.  While there were many questions asked (Michael prepared a whole list), these are the things that stood out to him the most.

“I was nervous while waiting to talk to my birth mom. If you’re wondering if I have a birth mom, yes I’m adopted. I was scared to talk to her but I prayed to God and he gave me courage to say the right words I had to say to her. The first word I said to her was “hi” and she said back to me, “Do you have good grades?”. I said back to her “Yes, I have good grades”. I asked her if my brothers know that I’m their brother. She said, “No. Are you mad at me?” I responded to her, “No. What does your house look like?” She said it is a small house”

Luke 18:16 “But Jesus called the children to him and said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.”

Big Things

Many of you know of our plans here at God’s Hidden Treasures to begin manufacturing children’s wheelchairs in Ukraine.  Yesterday we held our first focus group with many of the mothers of children from our camp.  We spent two hours discussing wheelchairs and how we can make them better, and more specific for Ukraine.  We came away with so many ideas that will help design a great wheelchair for Ukraine, that can help these mothers get their children around the city, to the hospitals, rehabilitation center, or wherever they need to go.

Vallodia, the partner we trained, who is distributing wheelchairs with us in the East of Ukraine, joined us.  He and his sponsor are a central part of our plan to manufacture wheelchairs in Kramatorsk.  In the East of Ukraine he has given out more than 200 wheelchairs and 200 walkers in the last six months.  Nita, has never seen anybody work so quickly to distribute wheelchairs to people in her 20 years of working with different Ukrainian cities.  Vallodia is working with five different cities, some on the Ukrainian side, some in the occupied territories.

We are already planning to send 100 more walkers and around half our next shipment of wheelchairs from Joni and Friends.  The growth has been huge, and we cannot be more excited, but this means we need more wheelchairs and more walkers! Please being praying that our next two shipments will be received without any complications and that God would bring in support so that we get the next shipments on the way.

Our staff continues to visit the orphanages every week.  The 8th of May is a big holiday in Ukraine, International Women’s Day, and the children in Valoshka, a small orphanage here, were preparing a program for the holiday.  I thought I would leave you with a small video.  We love our job, and we love these kids.