By Ian Smith
NAB Missionary in Romania
On July 4, my family and I entered Ukraine for the second time in a month. While our American brothers and sisters celebrated their independence, we were privileged to serve those who longed for similar freedoms. Our ministry in Ukraine this summer has consisted of visiting camps of Internally Displaced Persons, supporting families in need, and, on this day in July, visiting one of the groups struggling the most in Ukraine right now, orphans.
Through our NAB partnership with the Hungarian Baptist Convention (HBC), we have gained regular access to ministry in Ukraine. Pastor Csaba Janos, an HBC pastor in Baia Mare, Romania, has now made thirty-five ministry trips into Ukraine since the war began. Pastor Csaba has looked for opportunities to provide practical assistance to displaced persons and those providing for their care. In June, Pastor Csaba and I sat around the kitchen table of a Ukrainian brother named Istvan, a member of his local church who has a great desire to help those in need. It was who Istvan informed us about the needs of an orphanage.
As we entered through the security gate of the orphanage, we were pleased to see the buildings were in good repair and to hear many children outside playing. We toured the facilities, home to one hundred and thirty children between the ages of two and seventeen; prayed with the staff; and played with the children.
Hours earlier, we had purchased items to support this government-organized facility, and now we got to see how these items would be used. Through NAB funds, we purchased three refrigerators, two lawn mowers, and significant amounts of food and hygiene supplies.
Due to government funding reallocation due to the war effort, this facility has been receiving significantly less support. Eighteen months ago, this facility housed ninety children, but now they have seen an influx of kids (for a variety of reasons). In addition, they receive less support, all international adoptions have ceased, and domestic adoptions are largely nonexistent. Often the way the boys are leaving the facility is by growing old enough to be drafted into the war effort. As we walked by the orphanage’s wall of pictures of their recent high school graduates, we were moved by the enlistment photographs of these boys who have already faced such pain or tragedy in their lives, now fighting proudly in a war they never wanted.
Religion that is pure and faultless is to visit orphans in their affliction! The NAB Romania team has been honored to be an extension of the NAB Conference’s ministry in Ukraine. I encourage you to continue to pray for Ukraine, especially the children being affected by this war, as well as continue to support the Ukraine relief fund.
If you would like to support efforts such as this, you can give to the Crisis Relief Fund for Ukraine at the link below.