Arriving in Odessa we were hosted by our delightful friends, Pastor Oleg and Tanya Vasilchuk and their beautiful baby daughter, Abigail. We enjoyed a walk around this picturesque old city filled with historical buildings and landmarks like the famous opera house.
Then it was down to business visiting the Youth Gym Club that Oleg created with the homeless teenagers who once lived in the drains under the city of Odessa. A few years ago Oleg led to Christ, the European welterweight kickboxing champion, Igor Manjul, and his wife, Anastasia, who are assets in the church. Igor trains these rugged youngsters with the physical and emotional disciplines of these sports. Three times a week they meet in a rented gym and have a fellowship meeting with prayer, testimonies, and a short Bible study, and then get into training.
If Igor is late in arriving because of the traffic, the kids start praying without him. What initiative! These are the ones that merely existed, on drugs and living in the squalor of public drains with sickness and disease. It’s been wonderful to see so many of them come to Christ, get delivered from drugs and serve the Lord with power and zeal. Many of them attend the Sunday worship in the church that Oleg pastors, but they are fed and nourished in prayer, fellowship, and the Word of God during the week as well.
These are the youngsters together with other orphans for which we want to acquire a building for their mentoring and fellowship. Please pray with us towards this goal.
We enjoyed a wonderful inspirational time during a break in their training, as Sasha and I shared an encouragement and challenge from God’s Word with them (Sasha translating my message into Russian – the language they speak). We taught them how to shine for Christ in the midst of adversity, share their faith with others in need, and bring many to Christ with zeal and enthusiasm. I knew they would do this – as they have no frills in life to distract them.
After the meeting, Igor asked me to step into the ring with him and “swing a few punches at each other”. How ridiculous. I wouldn’t have stood a chance.
The following morning Oleg, Sasha and I will went to a local superstore to buy a huge number of diapers (disposable nappies) for an orphanage of abandoned babies (quite a few of them are severely handicapped) and children. The stares of disbelief that local people gave us in the store, indicated that they were wondering what the three of us had been up to behind-the-scenes with all those children to provide for. I hoped they believed us when we said they were for a local orphanage. The lady doctor/director of the orphanage got very emotional when she saw the supply of diapers. The children need about five changes a day and are in great need.
It was so emotional looking at those disadvantaged children. I kept thinking, “There is a precious life there that came from God, with a purpose on this planet. One day that life will return to God when its purpose on earth is done, to be perfect in a heavenly body. But until then I will do what is possible to help that child’s destiny to be realised.”
The director said the biggest need they have is for three electronic exercise chairs (costing $2,500 each) for the children with disabilities to have their bodies exercised each day. I told her I would try to do what I could to provide those. Please stand with us in prayer for this vital need.
Later that day we returned to the gym to minister to the younger homeless kids who trained under Igor, for a message from God’s Word. I was amazed at their attention and focus that I realised that had come from being disciplined by Igor.
This morning we enjoyed a men’s breakfast together at an old city restaurant. The fellowship with these tough guys was very stimulating. They were hungry for the ministry of God’s Word and experiences on how to apply it. They wanted to know how to bring people to Christ in their generation to make a difference in their world. It was easy to minister to them, with Sasha’s and Oleg’s help as interpreters. That young man, fourth from the right, named Vlad, once a homeless kid, has become a gold medallist kickboxing champion. He wants to attend a local Bible College to prepare for ministry. I want to help him with the $150 each month that he’ll need for his tuition and accommodation at the College.
We have one more meeting being the Sunday morning service in a cold rented hall. That is usually packed with poor and homeless people who love Jesus and hang together for support and encouragement in a needy war-torn nation. They are the salt of the earth in this nation and a bright light to guide many to Jesus and salvation. When they acquire their own building they’ll be able to meet more regularly. Please pray for this need to be met and their vision realised.
We’ll do our best to stand with them and help them to fulfill their destinies in Christ. If you would like to help us to meet these precious people’s needs, you could make a donation via our secure website donation link –
Thank you so much for your kindness and compassion.