Every day, thousands of children spend their time on the streets of Kiev, Ukraine. These children eat most of their meals from a dumpster and sniff glue so they don’t have to think about how cold, hungry or lonely they are.
When Cooperative Baptist Fellowship field personnel Gennady and Mina Podgaisky moved to Ukraine in 2002 to start their ministry, they were overwhelmed and worried for the street children of Kiev, but they were also determined to turn their tears into drops of hope.
More than a decade later these “drops” have rippled out among Kiev’s orphaned, abandoned and runaway children through life-changing ministries — three foster care homes, transformational teaching tools, powerful partnerships and other ways of sharing Christ’s love.
The Podgaiskys’ ministry started small in Kiev, Ukraine. To any child on the street who looked hungry, they gave food. And while they realized that providing food was important, they also realized it would always be a drop in the bucket of an overwhelming crisis.
So the Podgaiskys helped form a coalition of Christians committed to addressing the crisis at its
Feeding stations turned into shelters where street children could linger to wash clothes,
bathe, learn to read, study the Bible or receive medical care for common street wounds.
For children who wanted to leave the streets, the Podgaiskys and Ukranian Baptists wanted to do even more. They envisioned a place where orphans could live with a loving family that would nurture, teach and care for them while also sharing God’s love.
In 2003, their dream became reality. Amid 17 wooded acres less than an hour from Kiev, the Village of Hope was born as a community for Christian families raising foster children.
The Podgaiskys are not only drops of hope among street children but also among adults
and families living in an economically-challenged society. Every week they host a Bible
study in their home, where they share the gospel with people like Oxana, who then shared Christ with her entire family. The
Podgaiskys offer counseling for couples and reach out to struggling families — hopefully preventing crises that would send
more children to the streets.
“With your help and lots of prayers, we see radical changes.
The number of street children has been drastically reduced,” Gennady
said. “But we cannot continue what we’re doing without your help.”