From July 6 to July 13, Bethlehem sent its first mission team forth to impact the greater world for Christ. We partnered with missionary Morgan Ognibene who is serving with YWAM Kyiv in Kyiv, Ukraine. A team of nine men and women and with the full support of all of the Bethlehem Christian family helped the YWAM staff continue its ministry to refugees displaced during the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. In the midst of anxiety, restlessness, and fear, these refugee families are strong, resilient, and eager to feel the love of God's grace wash over them. They are engaging and open to the Spirit of God. We played with them, sang with them, and shared our space and our lives with them. We trust the seeds we planted in the midst of their lives will blossom in the Lord's time. We also believe we helped bring in the harvest from other missionaries who have planted seeds and watered the growth in the midst of these children's lives. What is clear to us is that we have folks around us at all times who will benefit from us being present and attentive to their lives. We did nothing special other than let them know they were loved. In sharing our presence we trust they felt the presence of God, and God makes all the difference.
We want to say thank you to the generosity of everyone who helped us get there and back. We want to say thank you to our families who allowed us to go and serve. And we thank everyone who prayed over us at all times. Those prayers impacted us and made a difference.
Below you can see videos and pictures of our trip. After spending a day touring the city, we spent four days (Monday through Thursday) with the children in a modified Vacation Bible School model. We played games, sang songs, danced, taught, made crafts, snacked, swam, and enjoyed each other's company. The Lord provided all we needed, including the ability to overcome a language barrier--both through interpreters from Russian/English and through basic gestures.
We hope this is not the only mission team to be sent from Bethlehem. Our sincerest hope is that we were the first of many, and we invite you to go forth, too.