Historic conference in Ukraine yields fruit

By September 15, 2006

Ukraine (MNN) — The needs of the disabled aren’t typically thought about in the Ukraine. In fact, many people view the disabled as a burden. According to statistics there are 2.5 million disabled people in that country, and many are ignored.

But, that wasn’t the case for 128 people who participated in Joni and Friends first ever international family retreat for the disabled. Jon Wern with Joni and Friends says, “There were about 26 families. A family was anywhere from two to four people. They came from a 30 to 50 miles radius. 75-percent of these families were not believers.”

According to Wern, that presented them some great opportunities to share the Gospel. He says it didn’t go real well at the beginning. “After the first night of talking about the Lord and singing Christian songs, we had a lot of them ready to go home the next day.”

However, Wern says the children were having fun and wanted so stay. He says that’s all it took to see hearts began to open. “The Ukrainian team was putting on skits and doing games and that during the day, and then we gave them a couple of options for workshops. At the end of it, two ladies accepted Christ and two of the kids accepted Christ.”

While there was joy in seeing people turn to Christ, there was also heartbreak. “Not one of them saw their child was a blessing. As they saw some of the games their children were involved in and saw that their children could laugh, they started looking at the kids differently.”

Because of the success, Wern says that they’re going do more of these and they need help to do it. “We need funding. We need people that might enjoy going. Maybe there’s a church out there and then help to fund some families. These families, it costs $10 a day per person.”

Go to JoniAndFriends.org to find out more.

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