Two years ago, at the end of August 2011, I read a blog that stuck with me.  It was a blog written by a missionary in Ukraine about his experience with orphans on August 31st.  On this day, he helped to move 13 orphan boys he had gotten to know through his ministry, out of the orphanage and into a local trade school.  This was their age-out day.

I saw the pictures and read his description of what he saw in the dormitory.  And I let the statistics sink in.  [Read the original blog post here]

Statistically speaking, only 4 of these boys will still be enrolled in school in 2 years. 9 will fall victim to drugs, alcohol, and crime. 2 will commit suicide in the next 3 years.

Rather than a day of freedom, excitement, and independence, it was more like these boys – at barely 16/17 years old – were being placed in a battlefield where their odds of victory were surely not on their side.

I prayed. For them and all the children in Eastern Europe who were facing this dismal rite of passage all on the same day.  But little did I know what would become of those prayers…

That missionary who had written the blog was Kyle who led our recent trip to Ukraine.  And the boys he wrote about were the ones I got to meet and get to know.  When I think about how God wrote this whole story I am touched, amazed, and just blown away at how blessed I am.

While on the trip, Kyle reminded me of the blog he had written… I had honestly forgotten about it.  As soon as I got home, I had to look it up.  When I pulled up the page, I remembered the text and the photos.  And when I looked back at the photos this time, I did not have the same feeling of sadness as I did 2 years ago.

I now look back at those photos from 2011 and know several of the boys by name.  I know their voices, interests, personalities, and hopes.  I spent time with them, shared meals with them, talked to them on the phone, and go to know their stories.  I see the dorm rooms and know that those things did not hinder them from what they have become. 

More than anything, these boys give me hope.  They have been out of the orphanage for 2 years and they are making it.  Do they still have struggles? Yes.  But they have not become statistics.  They have stuck to their education for 2 years and have plans to continue.  They are hard workers and are enjoying their lives.  If they had mamas I know they would be so proud of them…  and my heart breaks when I realize each of their families are missing out on having such awesome guys in their lives. 

Please join me in continuing to pray for them.  There are still many challenges ahead of them.  Many of them have made it on their own, but could do so much more if they had faith to keep them going when their own strength wears out.  They are never to grown for Jesus, please pray they meet Him right where they are!

Go back to Kyle’s original blogs and see if you can point out 3 of these 4 guys! 
(They have grown up quite a bit in the past 2 years!)
http://www.kylestef.com/mission-blog.html

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