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100 Happy Kids, Ukraine Style by Steve Hemphill

It had been 40 years since I last visited Ukraine. In 1977, they were still part of the Soviet Union and Leonid Brezhnev was their leader. He and Jimmy Carter were increasing tensions over human rights which culminated in the U.S. boycotting the 1980 Olympics. As Oxford students, my Canadian friend and I were fearless, if not naive. We were briefly detained by the Soviet police simply for talking to fellow university students in Kiev. Not a great time to visit!

My next visit in 2017 was much different. As a board member of the Future Leadership Foundation, I was welcomed by Baptists everywhere. But, there was one church that left a stunning impression: Revival Church of Kiev.

The Pastor, Nickolay Ponomarev, told us about the horrible orphan crisis in Ukraine, made much worse by the war with Russia in the East. The estimates are 100,000 children being warehoused in very bad conditions. Pastor Nicky felt God telling his church to do something...and oh my Lord, did they ever!!

The church has perhaps 150 in attendance on a Sunday morning, but they initiated a project that I do not believe any American megachurch would dare tackle. The project “100 Happy Kids” envisions 10 church couples to adopt 10 children each.  Hence, “100 Happy Kids”! LET THAT SOAK IN!

They are already on the 3rd family. In fact, the 2nd family adopted 5 siblings and then another set of 7 siblings, making their family go from 2 to 14 in a few months! It is exceptionally humbling to be in the presence of such sacrificial Christians. The least I could do was help...and now we all can help. I am thrilled Second Baptist Church has voted to send money to the Kiev Church to help build homes for these families. I'll be returning to Ukraine in September and hope some 2BC folks will join me. You too can be inspired like never before.

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