Eastern Europe - Karen Springs reporting:
After living here for 8 years I can testify that this is a region often divided by denominational differences and feuds within the Christian church. Lines have been drawn and unity at times is hard to find.
But all that seemed to be a thing of the past as I took part in a very special event last month. I witnessed first hand as Russian and Ukrainian Orthodox, Catholics and multiple denominations of Protestant Christians came together on one stage in Kyiv on behalf of orphans and vulnerable children. There is no doubt that this was a historical moment in this land!
556 delegates from across Eastern Europe gathered in Kyiv, Ukraine for the Eastern European Pastors Summit: Defending the Orphan, Changing the Future. With an interdenominational reach the summit brought together clergy and key leaders in the orphan care movement from across Eastern Europe.
The goal of the Summit was to inform and mobilize leaders and unify the strengths of the Church as a whole, so that together effective solutions for working with orphans and children at risk can be found.
Orphan’s Promise had the privilege to be one of the sponsoring organizations of this groundbreaking event, which was organized at the initiative of the Alliance for Ukraine Without Orphans and several other influential Christian organizations, including Compassion International and Christian Vision.
Many of the 556 delegates who attended the summit are already active in caring for orphans, and together they represented a total of 816 children that have been taken into families!
“If we want to see a Ukraine without orphans, Christians have to be a part of the solution,” said Sveta Isaev, an adoption advocate who is also an adoptive mother to 7 HIV+ children.
A radical change has taken place in recent years in the Christian response to dealing with orphan care. Steve Weber, director of CBN’s activity in Ukraine has seen a dramatic shift over of the 20 years that he has been working in Ukraine. “20 years ago there was such a stigma against orphans that Christians would fake pregnancies by carrying a pillow before they’d adopt. Today we’re preaching about taking the orphans home in our churches! This is a new era of orphan care and it is very exciting to see God at work.”
There is no doubt that the 2-day summit held in Kyiv was a success on many fronts. Pastors, priests, and other leaders returned to their cities and nations inspired, equipped, and determined to do all they can to reach children in need. Strategic partnerships have been formed or advanced. Hundreds of decisions were made by the summit's participants that will eventually result in the transformation of many children’s lives in Ukraine and around Eastern Europe.