Monthly Archives: February 2014

Mercy Trucks Ukraine

He has shown you, O mortal, what is good.  And what does the LORD require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8

Recently we sat down with Stepan and Oksana Terletsky of Mercy Trucks Ukraine to discuss how they minister to the needs of orphans in Ukraine.  This precious Ukrainian couple have the gifts of hospitality and mercy and they love God with all their hearts.  I myself have first-hand experience of their generosity when we spent time with them 3 years ago while we were in Ukraine adopting our youngest son.  They opened their home to us for our first home-cooked meal in weeks and extended their hand of friendship.  I also had the privilege of helping them prepare a meal to bless the dentists who volunteer for their ministry.  Our family has personally supported them ever since.

Stepan is the director of Mercy Trucks Ukraine, a ministry they’ve been a part of for over 7 years from the time it began as part of Youth With A Mission.  The past 2 years they have been a separate ministry serving the orphan and the poor in Ukraine.  On average the Terletsky’s and a team of volunteer dentists and hygienists go out with the dental truck 2 times per month (20-22 times annually) to minister to the dental needs of children in orphanages across Ukraine.  Per visit they examine around 50 children with most of them receiving treatment.  I really appreciate this ministry because I know how bad the teeth of an orphan can be.  Our oldest son, adopted from Ukraine at age 10, saw our dentist 11 times the first year he was home with us – all for fillings, root canals, pulled teeth, etc.

In addition to bringing much needed dental care, they also bring the Gospel message.  While children are waiting for their turn in the dentist’s chair, a team of volunteers presents a VBS-type program with games, crafts, and a Bible story.  The Terletsky’s welcome Church teams from the U.S. to come on short-term mission trips to help with this part of the ministry.  To learn more about this ministry or to contact Stepan Terletsky regarding bringing a team for a short-term trip go to their website:  mercytrucksukraine.org

Families For Russian & Ukrainian Adoption

Recently Mary Slager and I (Sandra Flach) talked with Jan Wondra, National Chair for FRUA (Families For Russian & Ukrainian Adoption).  FRUA offers hope, help, and community for adoptive families who’ve adopted from Eastern European countries such as Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhastan, Bulgaria, Belarus, Romania, Poland, Lithuania, and Armenia – just to name a few.

Personally, I found FRUA to be a valuable asset during my family’s long wait to travel for our first Ukrainian adoption.  In late 2005 we were approved to adopt from Ukraine but told that all the appointments were booked for that calendar year.  So we waited, believing we’d travel in early 2006.  However, at that point, Ukraine closed their adoption program to reorganize it with no word to families on exactly how long that would take.  It was during that time that I stumbled upon the FRUA chatroom and it was there that I gleaned valuable information that benefited us tremendously as we prepared to travel to Ukraine and while we were in-country.  I practically lived in the FRUA Chatroom during those long months of waiting from February to November of 2006.  In the chat-room I read posts by families who’d already been to Ukraine to adopt and families who were waiting to travel like us.  I read posts about how much money to bring, where to eat, what gifts to bring, how long the process took, what to pack, etc.  When Ukraine finally re-opened in the fall of 2006, I actually learned that we had an appointment with the Ukrainian government by following people who were posting their registration numbers and appointment dates.  So, I knew before our adoption agency that we had an appointment to travel all because of FRUA.

FRUA is more than a chat-room though.  They offer membership to local chapters for families to connect with as a community of support for adoptive families.  These chapter families offer support and encouragement to one another because they are all on similar adoption journeys.  To learn more about FRUA visit their website at frua.org

 

Love In Action

By this we know love, that He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.  But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?  Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.  1 John 3:16-18

We are very excited to launch our Love In Action campaign!  Love is shown by action.  Love is a verb, not words or talk.  After all, God is love and He demonstrated His love for us by sending Jesus to die on the cross for us.  Our Abba Father didn’t just say He loved us – He showed it with action.  The action of Jesus dying on the cross is our adoption process.  Ephesians 1:4-5 says, For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight.  In love He predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with His pleasure and will…  

Adoption was God’s idea.  He showed His great love for us by adopting us.  We are launching our Love In Action campaign to inspire His Church to step out in faith, put your Love In Action, maybe even by adopting, fostering, or helping orphans or adoptive families in some way.  Our first event is Love In Action:  Finding Families For NY’s Waiting Children.  On Friday, May 16, 2014, we will be hosting a free Pastors’ Brunch from 9am-noon and an Evening Event both with our very special key-note speaker, Bishop W.C. Martin, from Possum Trot, Tx.  Sandra Flach and Mary Slager have had the privilege of meeting Bishop Martin at 2 conferences this past year.  He is a dynamic speaker with a passion and heart for the fatherless.  Bishop Martin has written a book published by Focus On The Family, entitled Small Town, Big Miracle, and he’s been featured on such programs as The Today Show, Oprah, Family Life Today, and in People Magazine.  His family’s inspiring story of foster care transformed his church and community with over 70 kids being adopted out of the foster care system in Texas and into homes in this poor, backwoods, Texas community.  They themselves say, “We don’t have much, but we do have love.”

Love In Action:  Finding Families For NY’s Waiting Kids is on Friday, May 16, at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church, 63 Mountain View Ave., Albany, NY  12205.  The Pastors’ Brunch is free and open to all pastors and their guests.  The Capital District Ministers’ Fellowship will be joining us for this event as well.  The Evening Meeting is free and open to the general public.   Local foster care agencies will be on hand before and after Bishop Martin’s message to answer questions and provide information.  For more information click on “Events” on this site.  Please join us on May 16th and step out in faith to put your love in action!

God Sets The Lonely In Families

A Father to the fatherless…is God in His holy dwelling.  God sets the lonely in families…Psalm 68:5-6

Recently Sandra Flach and Mary Slager set down with a local adoptive mom who’d just arrived home from Ukraine 3 months ago with her newly adopted 10 year old son, Peter.  Linda Nasman and her husband, Ron, live in Averill Park, NY and have 4 biological sons:  Andrew 22, Ben 20, Caleb 16, and Micah 14.  What would motivate this family make the journey to Ukraine for a 5th son?  Linda shared with us that several years ago she’d been hearing about adoption on radio programs like focusonthefamily.com and http://www.familylife.com.  Feeling like adoption was something God might have her family do, Linda approached Ron with the idea.  Ron’s response was a firm, “no” with no discussion.  That is until the summer of 2012 when the Nasmans, along with their church, West Stephentown Baptist Church, spent 2 weeks on a short-term missions trip in Ukraine.  On a long, hot, overnight train ride to Lviv, Ukraine, God spoke to Ron’s heart through the Scriptures.  The Lord led Ron to Psalm 68:5-6 and then to Matthew 18 where He confirmed to Ron that, indeed, God was calling them to let the little children come.  

The Nasmans began the adoption paperwork process in January of 2013 and arrived in Ukraine in October of that same year.  They traveled for a “blind adoption” meaning that they did not know whom they would adopt until they looked at pictures during their appointment with the Ukrainian government in Kiev.  God led them to a 10 year old boy, who remarkably even looks like the Nasman’s other 4 sons.  After 7 weeks in Ukraine, Linda arrived home just a few days before Thanksgiving, with their son Peter.

In 40 years of being a Christian, Linda shared that this adoption adventure was the biggest leap of faith she’d ever taken, but it has brought the most blessing that she’s ever experienced.  Linda said, “It’s scary to step out in faith to adopt, but it’s even scarier to disobey God.”  Peter is adjusting well and was even dedicated at their church on Christmas Eve where he joyfully sang, Happy Birthday, Jesus!  To hear more of the Nasman’s adoption story, tune in to Orphans No More on The New Light WDCD 96.7fm on Friday 2/7/14 or Sunday 2/9/14 at 10:30am.  The show will also soon be available on this site under “Events”.

For I Know The Plans I Have For You

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future.  Jeremiah 29:11.

Yes, God has a plan for our lives, but for kids in the foster care system it can seem like there is no hope or good future for them.  But there is!  God stands before the global orphan crisis and He has the solution to the problem.  Our Sovereign Lord puts all His eggs in one basket – His Church is that basket!  We the Church are the answer!  Not the government, not some nice humanitarian organization, but the Body of Christ.  We are the ones with the biblical mandate in James 1:27, we must care for orphans in their distress.  

In the United States there are over 400,000 children in the foster care system, many of them are available for adoption.  New York State is home to over 20,000 of these kids.  JFO recently sat down with an adult adoptee, Shelly Guilzon, for an Orphans No More broadcast.  Shelly was placed into foster care as a 2 week old infant having been born with drugs and alcohol in her system.  After a few weeks she was returned to her birth mother only to suffer extreme neglect and placed back into care a short time later.  But God had a plan for this precious baby made in His image.  Shelly was placed not just in any foster home, but in a Christian foster home.  And as she shares in her testimony – that made all the difference in her life!  Shelly’s adoptive mom, Ellen, laid a biblical foundation in her life which sustained her even though she spiraled downward into a life of drugs and alcohol.  After some turbulent teen years, propelled by the trauma she’d experienced as an infant, Shelly returned to her family and to the Lord.  She has now been clean and sober for 7 years, is married, and the mom of 3 precious kiddos of her own!  And she is set to graduate from college this spring with a degree in Criminal Justice.  Shelly has a heart to work with women as a substance abuse counselor.

The Lord has certainly given Shelly a hope and a future!  Would you consider becoming a foster parent?  You could become part of the hope and the future of a waiting child.