Destination Ukraine–What will you be doing?–video

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“What will you be doing there?” is the question I answer almost every time I tell someone I’m going on a mission trip to Ukraine.  The short answer – we will be working with New Hope Center, a Christian ministry to graduated orphans in the region where Sasha is from.  We will be doing construction on one of the group homes where their Trade School students live.  The realistic answer – none of us will know until we get there. Winking smile

I’m so excited to be partnering with this ministry that I started praying for… before I even knew it existed.  It’s so awesome to have learned about this ministry that God has been developing for years before I even knew about this region. 

New Hope Center’s trade school just finished it’s very first year of educating and training orphans for a practical career in dairy farming.  One thing that I don’t think we have emphasized enough when sharing about our trip is that this is the very first trade school of its kind in Ukraine.  It is the only accredited non-government trade school in the whole country.  This is huge.  It’s a huge miracle that they have received all the approvals and favor from government officials which makes everything possible… because there are innumerable barriers – foreseen and unforeseen – that could have prevented this from happening.

I think this video is the best way to get a glimpse at what we will be doing.  It’s awesome to see the land we will be exploring, the buildings we will be visiting, the people we will be working with, and the orphans who will be touched by our work! 

Thank you so much for your prayers and support! My dad and I leave TODAY and will arrive in Ukraine tomorrow afternoon! Stay tuned for more updates! 


Hosting Reflection #28–Holding on to God’s Promises-video

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NHFC’s Christmas orphan hosting program is almost over.  Today I had the opportunity to meet with 4 families as they said goodbye to their host children at the airport.  It is a heart wrenching thing to experience.  I wasn’t even parting with a host child, and I was still brought to tears at all the emotions and seeing the families part with the children they have come to love over these past 4 weeks. 

The days after departure can be the hardest.  I’ve heard from many host families that missing these kids and knowing what they have returned to is one of the hardest things they’ve ever had to do in their lives.  And at just the right time, it seems, this little gem has been created.  Something the families can hold on to, a memory of the children who have touched so many lives, and a way to help them pray for their children. 

This video, the hosted orphans holding on to cardboard promises from God’s Word, has become an NHFC hosting tradition.  We have families either choose a Bible verse for their host child, or select a verse together with their host child.  They are usually very meaningful, something that fits the child well, as a life verse the host family wants to pray over the child and explain the meaning and trust in that verse to their host child. 

It is so touching to see the video. Each of the 77 photos is a real orphan who was really ministered to by everyday families this Christmas.  The power of God’s Word in their lives can truly change their situation.  Knowing about God’s promises and taking the truth of these words with them to their home countries can make all the difference to these children.

Hosted orphans holding on to God’s promises!

It’s so easy for me to get caught up in the photos, thinking about these orphans, and the blessed life they have experienced during hosting.  I even get so caught up that I easily forget… that each of these promises is not only true for these kids, it is true for each one of us.  God did not just put these things in the Bible for them, they are there for every person. 

He has a plan for you.  He will never leave you. You can trust him.  He will wipe away all your tears.  Your life is a gift.  God treasures you.  He is your help.  You are his son.  You are created in his image. He loves you with an everlasting love. He is the closest friend. He will never abandon you.  You are His.  You are a blessing.  He came to give you abundant life.  He is your strength.  He is on your side.  He loves you.  You can always have hope.  Nothing can separate you from his love.  He is with you and watches over you.  God gave his only son for you.  You have been chosen.  He is your defense.  You are his masterpiece.  He chose you when he planned creation.  With Him all things are possible.  He calls you by name.  You are loved.


so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
Isaiah 55:11 (NIV)

Guest Post–What Christmas Means to Me

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Today, I have my very first guest post!  This post is from Katie, one of my fellow NHFC volunteers.  This post she wrote a few weeks ago was very insightful and inspiring.  I have thought of Christmas in a whole new way since reading it.  Enjoy!

Everyone who knows me tends to associate me with Christmas. I get random texts that usually go something like this… “I saw a blow up snowman at Lowes today and thought of you.” Or “I found Christmas cookie cutters at a yard sale and thought of you.” Or “You’d be so proud of me. I bought a Christmas present for someone, and it’s still only August.” It’s common knowledge that I adore Christmas and celebrate it year round. My iPhone has a Christmas countdown app on the main screen, so I will ALWAYS know how many days are left (crucial information). I listen to my Christmas music from January to December. I watch The Nativity Story in August. I sing “Oh Christmas Tree” in the shower. I leave several pieces of Christmas decor up in my house year round, simply because I can’t bear to put it away. My family believes I may have issues… I believe they may be right. But it’s ok… I’ve made my peace with it and embrace who I am :-)

The question is WHY do I love it so much? Most people get exhausted just thinking about Christmas and all the stress it brings (the shopping, the social schedule, the twisted lights, the excessive commercialism, and all sorts of other things that stress people out during the season). They wonder how a celebration of Joy, Hope, and Peace so quickly turns into stress, heartburn, and depression.

Christmas evokes powerful emotion from me for reasons that may come as an interesting surprise to some. When the enemy convinced Adam and Eve to turn away from God in the Garden of Eden, perfection shattered, and we were separated from God. The enemy danced in victory and caused all manner of carnage and destruction on earth and in the lives of all the people that God created and loves. But just at the right moment in time, Jesus came into the world in the most unlikely and shocking way to bring man back to God and bridge the gap. The element of surprise. A swift and decisive “checkmate” out of nowhere. A landed invasion. Nobody expected it. Certainly not the enemy. Christmas is a celebration of that amazing piece of history that shifted the course of humanity and offered hope where there was none before.

Decisive surprise victories draw visceral responses from us. When James Bond looks as though he has lost and suddenly delivers a surprise blow out of nowhere and walks off calmly into the distance as the enemy is seen stunned and plummeting to his doom, we fist pump the sky from our theater seats. When a chess player appears to have lost but suddenly moves a key piece into a decisive checkmate and cracks a slight smile knowing what he was doing all along, we get thrilled. When a football team calls a “Statue Of Liberty” trick play and wins the game to the shock of their opponent and the entire stadium of fans, we throw our bowl of chips in the air and excessively celebrate in our living rooms (Shout out to Boise State fans). When Frodo finally destroys the one ring and Sauron’s freaky eyeball goes wide with shock and utter surprise as his tower crumbles and topples in defeat, we rejoice. When a poker player lays down a surprise royal flush and laughs as a Mount Everest sized pile of chips moves from the opponent to him, we laugh along with him. These are all things that evoke wild delight, cheering, and hysteria out of us. They are things that make us leap out of our chair and scream “YESSS!!!!!!” (Or if you’re a calm, rational individual very unlike myself, you remain in your chair and clap in a dignified poised manner).

THAT is what Christmas means to me. And just as we throw our Superbowl parties, celebrate victories, and gleefully call up all our friends the moment a new Bond movie comes out, Christmas is a massive celebration to me. Sure, snowmen and reindeer have nothing to do with Jesus birth, but hey…. showering confetti and giant foam #1 gloves have nothing to do with the game of football either. It’s just all part of the ecstatic celebration. I do it in fun and as part of the joy of the victory and the ramifications of that victory.

I listen to The Nativity Story soundtrack a lot while I’m working in my home office, and by the time I get to “Is There A Place for Us” (otherwise known as Ring Christmas Bells. Track 17 if you care), as Jesus is just about to enter the world and change EVERYTHING, I’m usually up out of my office chair looking something like this…


That’s what Christmas means to me. “The Lord your God… turned the curse into a blessing for you, because THE LORD YOUR GOD LOVES YOU!!” -Deut. 23:5

He wrote Himself into our story and became human and reversed the curse on humanity and gave us hope and life! The ultimate hero!

So what am I going to do to celebrate this Christmas?? Well, I’m going to host an orphan through New Horizons for Children and celebrate my absolutely favorite holiday by giving hope and joy to a child who has lived far too long without it. I am going to share the JOY and give it out freely instead of confining it within myself. I’m going to bring clothes, food, and HOPE to those in my local community who have none. You can tell me I’m overboard and to calm down, but you can’t stop the wellspring of victory celebration from spilling out of my heart and my smile. You can’t wipe the smile off the face of a fan whose team just won the Superbowl… and you can’t wipe the joy off my face either.

This Christmas, I encourage you to find what God created you to do and go do it with JOY in celebration and revelry that we are NO LONGER without hope! Perhaps you can join me in opening your home to an orphan and shower them with the true meaning of Christmas. Most of them have never even heard of this extraordinary love the Father has lavished on us!

70 days till Christmas…

Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night…

If you would like to read more from Katie, you can visit her blog here –

Last Day of Summer Postcards

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13 Days of Prayer

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Join our public event on FacebookI’d like to invite you to join in New Horizons For Children’s 13 Days of Prayer! 

Beginning on Sunday April 22nd until May 4th – summer hosting deadline – you are invited to join us in prayer for this summer’s orphan hosting program! We will focus on something different each day.

4/22 – Host Families-to-be
4/23 – Non-Scholarshiped Children
4/24 – Sibling Groups
4/25 – Host Only
4/26 – Current Host Families
4/27 – Scholarships
4/28 – Chaperones
4/29 – Newsletter
4/30 – Travel
5/1 – Hosted Children
5/2 – Scholarshiped Children
5/3 – Back-Up Families
5/4 – All Remaining Children

We are believing God for great things as we unite in prayer!

Learn to do right; seek justice.
Defend the oppressed.
Take up the cause of the fatherless…
Isaiah 1:17 (NIV)

The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.
James 5:16b (NIV)

Hosting Reflection #19–Blessed by Insignificance, This is Christmas


Hosting an orphan can be a life changing experience.  It is a very special opportunity to care for and love an orphan who has been forgotten and doesn’t know what it means to be a part of a family.   If you want to bless a child without a family in a life changing way, then hosting them in your family is a perfect way to do it.

Many people, including myself, go into hosting with that thought – to bless a child with God’s love in a very tangible way.  But somewhere between the time that you choose a child from a photolisting and the time you must return them to their home country on a plane… things can change.  You realize that you are the one who has become blessed.  You set out to bless an orphaned child, and come to find that you feel so much more blessed by the host child.

You invite a child into your home who has most likely been abandoned by their earthly family.  They cannot care for them.  They are put in an institution where they are one of the many, with very little that sets them apart as an individual.   By their preteens, they are devalued as troubled child within their own community.  They are forgotten, neglected, unwanted.  And in the scope of the global picture… who even considers the needs of orphans in Eastern Europe?  Many orphan charities focus on Asia and Africa.  Can’t industrialized European countries like Ukraine care for their own children? And who even knows where Latvia is?  These children come to the United States with very little self-worth.  What could they possibly have to offer a family who seems to have it all?

More than they could ever imagine.

Orphans have so much to give.  Their smiles, laughter, hugs, and presence can change a typical holiday into one that changes your family forever.  They renew the spirit of hope and joy that Christmas is all about.  Although they have so little to offer, they have the gift of bringing new life to a family during the holiday. And this is Christmas. 

This is what Christmas is all about. 

Jesus Christ was born to a young couple before they were married.  He was born in the midst of their travels and the only place for them to go was a manger.  The town in which he was born was of no significance in that day.  Those who were welcomed to celebrate his birth were not people of influence, merely shepherds.  Without the announcement of angels, there would have been very little that attracted people to the birth of Jesus.  He was born no where special, with very little to offer.  “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him” (Isaiah 53:2b).  And yet he was the one who was sent to save mankind.   This is Christmas.   

Christmas is about God working in the way that he does best, the way that I love.  Using the unexpected, the unworthy, the lowly, the undeserving, & the insignificant.  He did not come with majesty, wealth, or force.  He sent Jesus with nothing, and it changed the course of humanity – 1 Corinthians 1:27-31.  This is Christmas. 

I love how this great paradox of Christianity is reflected in orphan hosting.  Fatherless children come to us with nothing to offer.  And through your time together they teach you things that you could have never learned otherwise and give you gifts that you never knew you could receive. 

Blessings to you, your family, and your special guests this Christmas! 

I would love to hear how you have been blessed by your host children!

Ukraine Orphan Ministry–Update!

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IMG_0128It’s about time for me to bring you an update about the ministry I spoke about in my blog post about the interview trip to Ukraine!

There is now a full blog site up to share all about the programs and Viktor & Tanya’s ministry – 

Our Mission Is To Spread The Gospel Of Jesus Christ To Reach Orphans In Ukraine That Are "Timing Out" That Have No Home Or Family To Turn To Once They Leave The Orphanages. Our Objective Is To Provide Housing, Teach Them The Love Their Lord & Savior Has For Them In Hopes They Will Develop Self Worth. To Teach Them Life Skills, Job Training, Social Skills & Teach Them To Assist In The Christian Camps To Serve Others.

To Hold Christian Camps During The Year For Children That Are Currently Living In Orphanages In Hopes To Reach Them At A Younger Age & Spread The Word Of Jesus Christ Into These Children’s Lives.

Lastly To Work Directly With Ukraine Orphanages To Introduce Them To US Hosting Programs In Hopes Of Finding These Children Forever Families.

I am so excited about what God is going to do through this partnership.  There are big dreams about how we can work together to reach orphans in Ukraine through summer camp ministry, transition programs for orphans aging-out of the orphanage, continued favor and growth of orphan hosting in this area, & short-term missions opportunities for teams to come and help.

Finally, please keep Tanya, the Ukrainian pastor’s wife, in your prayers.  The last I have heard, she had surgery for several new brain tumors that were found, and when the surgery was over, she could not walk. “The doctor told her she should be walking in 2 weeks. Unfortunately her cancerous tumor cannot be removed surgically so she will have to continue to have radiation for the treatment once she is healed from this surgery.” Please pray for her healing.  Satan is trying to stop this ministry in a serious way, but we know he will not win!

Stay tuned for more updates!

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