UKRAINE (INS)—Rescuing desperate street children is the core ministry of Father’s House, a Ukraine-based indigenous ministry partnered with Intercede International. But recently this mission has expanded to reach out to other groups in need—such as lonely seniors. Although Ukrainians face high anxiety because of the current political uncertainty, Father’s House missionaries trust in God and share their faith with those in their care.
Life for street children in Ukraine can be horrifying. Many of them beg in the streets, sniff glue, and live in public washrooms. If they try to return to their families, they face the danger of being beaten or abused. Into this moral vacuum Father’s House goes to offer an eternal solution: the love of Christ.
Dr. Roman Korniyko and his wife Natasha started Father’s House in 1996, as a ministry dedicated to rescuing street children, abused, neglected and runaway children, and giving them a safe place to live, in a Christian family environment. From a small two-room apartment, the ministry has grown to about 10 children’s homes, and a network of many Christian house groups that provide interim foster care. Father’s House has developed a family model—in which Christian couples take care of a group of children, treating them like their own family. Children are taught about the love of Jesus, and most become committed Christians.
The children are free to leave, but most stay. Some are eventually reunited with their birth parents or adopted by Christian families. Dr. Korniyko and his team have led hundreds of children and their parents to new life in Christ.
Early on, Dr. Korniyko realized that many of the older children, after years on the street, had fallen so far behind in their schooling that specialized vocational training was needed to equip them to re-enter society. So work began on a building with vocational training shops and additional accommodations for 40 to 50 children.
Natasha Korniyko is a vital part of the Father’s House ministry. She is a warm, loving, caring, dedicated woman, who can communicate very clearly both to the children and to outside people. Natasha helps with the administrative work of this ministry, and does a lot of co-ordination of details with the Ukrainian government.
Father’s House’s has been running the Treasure Island camp for homeless children since 1999. The idea of this camp was born when the ministry realized that it is very difficult for children to get adjusted to living in Father’s House or in a family after living for a long period of time on the street. The purpose of the camp is to create an atmosphere where children feel secure, to help them discover their gifts, and to give them hope and stir the desire for a better life.
The children at Treasure Island are very challenging and their problems aren’t typical children’s problems. Although as young as seven years old, they have been insulted by people in their street life and they don’t understand why they have become rebels against the world. Most of the children who come to the camp don’t know how to communicate properly. Almost every child has a problem with studying. Some children, though they are 13 or 14 years old, have never been to school. Adults to them are enemies or ones they can deceive or steal from. These children have very low self-esteem, which causes them either to avoid different kinds of activities and people, or have endless open conflicts. The children need a lot of time to calm down and understand that at Father’s House they are secure. Because of this, life at the camp becomes a transitional stage from street life to Father’s House.
Model for the Nation
In 2005, the Ukrainian government adopted Father’s House’s model of orphanages for the nation. The Parliament of Ukraine accepted a new law regarding conditions for social protection of orphans and abandoned children. The law guarantees the state’s provision for orphans and abandoned children, and lays a good foundation for Ukraine to move from orphanage-type to family-based care for such children—including adoption, foster families, and family homes. The official presentation of that law took place in Father’s House.
Charity House ‘Source of Love’
The Charity House “Source of Love” is a place for lonely elderly people who need help. Father’s House started this project recently with two goals: to attract attention of society to the problems of elderly people; and to give real help to lonely elderly people.
Every inhabitant of Charity House has his or her own painful life story. Unfortunately, most of them don’t have any family or friends who would take care of them. These people are alone with their problems and sicknesses. But they can receive attention, love and care in Charity House, perhaps for the first time in their lives.
Today 16 elderly men and women live in the house. They have spacious double rooms, with height-control beds. There is one bathroom for two rooms. They are served tasty fresh food several times a day. There is always a doctor at the medical ward, and an ambulance is easy to reach. There is a living room for communication and watching TV.
Local authorities appreciate this project, report Father’s House missionaries. “They are thankful for our work with lonely elderly people.”
The inhabitants of the house communicate with children and young people in the care of Father’s House. “This communication is equally important for both sides,” explain Father’s House missionaries. “The elderly people will be glad to share their wisdom, to warn someone else about the mistakes they made, and youth will see that it’s important to take care of the elderly.”
Reacting to the current crisis in Ukraine, Dr. Korniyko writes, “The events that took place in Ukraine for the past few months have opened wounds on the body of our nation. Through criminal activities of [former] President Viktor Yanukovych and his team, the economy of the country came to a collapse. The budget of the country is empty. The Father’s House Centre of Social Care for children has come to a critical condition.
“Today, the Centre accommodates 50 children, ages four to 17 years old. In order to provide meals for children, food supplies are necessary and are being delivered by a supplier. It is obvious that we do not intend to send children elsewhere and will do our best to find food or money to buy food. In early March, two minivans full of food drove down to us and gifted us with different kinds of food supplies. We believe that God will not forsake us. In addition, monthly we are in need of salaries for the workers of the Centre, for water supply, for electricity, for natural gas as well as for other expenses, such as medical supplies, equipment, materials, supplies, and other services, totaling $5,500 per month. We address you with an appeal to pray for Ukraine and the situation at Father’s House as well as helping us according to your possibilities. Thank you for understanding and collaboration.”
Slavik Radchuk, one leader of Intercede partner Good Samaritan Mission, met with Dr. Korniyko in March, and reports, “Roman asked for help to deliver children from Crimea, because we have two orphanages in Crimea under the Father’s House umbrella. He spoke to some church leaders, asking one Christian family to adopt one child temporarily.” Father’s House plans to move all of the hundreds of children in its care out of Crimea.
Pray for Father’s House missionaries as they minister to suffering street kids and seniors, and lead them to Christ.
Photo: Girls enjoy a campfire at the Father’s House Treasure Island camp.
August 29, 2014