US statesman and abolitionist Frederick Douglass, prominent in the 1860s, said something very profound about children. He said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” How true and yet how tragic that there are so many children in the world who carry brokenness into adulthood! As missionaries who desire to share hope in Christ with people in Ukraine and Belarus, we have seen this too many times. Missions, for us, is all about saving and healing lost and broken people.
In August, I shared how heartbreaking it has been to witness the hundreds of families in poverty that we have met over the past several years. We have met too many children suffering the reality of living with families where they experience privation, neglect, or even abuse. Too often we experience situations where children are not well cared for because of a lack of resources or negligence.
These desperate needs drive us to shelter and protect these vulnerable children however we can. This goal must include a focus on Christ and the life-changing power of the Gospel. That’s why, last month, our vision was to supply Christian leaders across Ukraine with evangelistic materials. We want to help provide safe, welcoming places where children can learn about Jesus.
Of course, we know that these same children suffer in multiple ways. We cannot ignore the effects of physical poverty any more than their spiritual needs. There are many ways we can support children and families in poverty. For example, we know from experience that millions of children in Ukraine live with food insecurity. How sad to see children go without something so basic for survival!
In Ukraine, many children in poverty are often are sent to school on an empty stomach and without a lunch of any kind. Many studies have been done to show that children learn best when they are not distracted by hunger. No matter where a child lives in this world, learning is not just important, but vital. Education greatly impacts a child’s future, their employment opportunities, and their ability to rise out of the poverty of their parent's generation.
Just think with me for a moment... How hard would it be to focus on learning when all you can think about is how hungry you are? What if you weren’t even sure you would get supper that night? Last fall, we introduced a new initiative designed to tackle this very problem. We want to make sure that as many children as possible have a good nutritional lunch when they are at school. Most, if not all, schools in Ukraine offer a hearty hot lunch filled with vegetables and healthy grains. However, we know that many families cannot even afford the very small cost.
We are asking you to prayerfully consider sponsoring a child to have a daily nutritional hot lunch at school. Providing a hot lunch for the next month for your child (approx 25 school days) will only cost $30. Of course, the school year is ten months long, so if you want to ensure that your child gets that nutrition for the entire year, you can continue that sponsorship throughout the year!