Our home church, Mount Paran Church of God, supports a whole host of missionaries throughout the world – from the remotest reaches of Siberia to the islands of the Philippines; from the streets of Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to the crowded slums of Bangalore, India.
And we do so here in Ukraine, too.
Meet Jane Hyatt, a one-time Atlanta suburbanite and active member of Mount Paran. A decade and a half ago, the Lord began to deal with her heart, placing upon her a burden to serve the children of this country. And so she did. She left the United States, knowing no Russian and not really having an inkling of what would happen or how
she would fulfill her calling.
The whole story would take pages to recount, but the gist is this: shortly after arriving, she met Barbara Klaiber, a New York native, who had an equally strong calling. The two started a soup kitchen to feed the hungry orphaned, abandoned street children in Kiev. But God expanded their vision and, in turn, their territory.
In 2000 they established the Ark Rehab Center for Street Children and Children at Risk in Kiev. But they needed a place to house the center. Through a Spirit-filled sister in Christ, God sent a strange prophesy – their “place” would be found at the edge of a forest and in a disco.
They eventually found a property they liked and, sure enough, it was at a forest’s edge. But it belonged to the government and, true to form with almost any bureaucracy, it took time – a lot of time – to purchase the property. With each passing visit, the government would tease Jane and Barbara a bit more, showing them a few more rooms or a couple of other buildings. On the fifth visit, they happened to poke their head in an auditorium in one of the buildings. A cleaning lady mopped the floor. When asked why, she said simply, because the disco is held here on Saturday nights.
The dynamic duo had found their place. They still, though, had to navigate a system laden with corruption, bribe-seekers, and last minute changes before they eventually secured the financing and won the property at auction.
Thus, the Ark was born.
The Ark’s main mission was (and is) the restoration of the family, not simply to serve as an orphanage. Jane is Mount Paran’s missionary here in Ukraine, and we directly support the work she and Barbara do at the Ark. The children in their home may be orphaned, victims of abuse, substance abusers themselves, or come from any number of other situations. Their goal, though, is to rehabilitate these precious kids and place them, permanently, in restored or new homes within 24 months of their arrival at the Ark.
Counting the Ark, we visited seven orphanages/homes during our time in Ukraine. This one is different. And you can sense the difference immediately: the whole Ark experience is Christ-centered. Jane and Barbara teach introduce the children to Jesus and His love, compassion, mercy, and forgiveness remain at the core of a child’s
time there. They pray. They worship. They learn that God loves them, and that they, in turn, should love themselves (as a creation of the Almighty) and others as themselves.
And that approach shows. The kids, like the ones at the special needs orphanage, seem more adjusted and more confident, even more responsive to love and affection. The image of those children in collective prayer for us will remain an indelible snapshot of our journey. This visit gave us hope that, in the midst of such sorrow, where an
alarmingly high percentage of the children of this country either live in orphanages or on the street, there are places that make a difference.
We all left feeling proud that our home church, Mount Paran, sponsors the Ark and, in particular, Jane and her calling.
One day more,
PS – While there we discovered that Jane and the Ark are in desperate need of a tractor to mow their lawn. (The complex is literally acres and acres.) We took up quite an impromptu collection but still remain short. If you would like to contribute, please contact the Mt. Paran choir office.