In 1992 Matthew spent the summer in Ukraine with other Christians playing American football against European football teams. The main purpose of this time in Ukraine was to provide opportunities to share the good news of Jesus Christ with other athletes. Bo Bowen was one of my financial and prayer supporters for the trip. That summer in Ukraine helped give me a love for Ukraine, the Ukrainian people and a passion for missions.
In October of 2006, Sheila visited an orphanage in Peru and we began discussing the possibility of adoption.
During the 2007 Missions Conference at First Presbyterian Church of Jackson, Mississippi, Bo Bowen invited Matthew to join him in Ukraine for an evangelism clinic.
One of the English/Ukrainian translators that assisted in the evangelism clinic in Nadvirna, Ukraine during August of 2007 was Tasha Sobko from Zaporizia, Ukraine. Tasha had worked in children’s camps through her church in her hometown and displayed an enthusiastic and sincere love for God and people during the evangelism clinic. Because of her diligent work and passion for the gospel, Twin Lakes extended her an invitation to come to the United States and serve as part of the Twin Lakes Summer Camp staff.
Also during August 2007, a missionary from Odessa, Ukraine came to Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Jackson and talked about her ministry to orphans. A lady named Grace Marsh heard the missionary’s presentation and decided to begin praying for and communicating with an orphan in Odessa named Karina. Grace felt led to adopt Karina and began the adoption process soon afterward.
In January of 2008, Twin Lakes ran a day camp in Trujillo, Peru at the request of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Peru. Among the 140 children were fifteen orphans and Sheila and I again contemplated adoption.
Twin Lakes Summer Staff Training began on May 26 and on Tuesday, May 27, 2008 Steve Lanier, a pastor from Redeemer PCA, trained the Twin Lakes summer staff in presenting the gospel to campers. After the training session, Steve met Tasha and immediately told her that he wanted her to meet someone: A lady from his church, Grace Marsh, was hosting an orphan from Ukraine for the summer and needed a translator. Tasha was happy to meet Grace and serve as her translator for the girl from Ukraine.
On Friday, June 20 Grace picked up Karina and her guardian, Svetlana, from the airport and brought her to our house to meet Tasha so that Tasha could spend the weekend with them and translate. So, there we were in the living room: Matthew, Sheila, Harrison, Isaac, Noah and Storey Grace along with Grace, Karina, Svetlana and Tasha. Before they left, Grace told us how she had tried to adopt Karina but before the adoption was finalized Ukraine changed their adoption laws and Grace was no longer able to adopt Karina. This was the second time that a family tried and was unable to adopt her.
God had placed an orphan in our living room in need of a family. Sheila and I began to talk and pray about adopting Karina. We realized that God had blessed us with adoption into his family, has given us a loving family here on earth and has always provided for our needs. We believed that God was calling us to take this child and make her our own and in mid July we asked Karina if she would like to be part of our family. She said yes and we began the adoption process. We started this process without the resources to finish but we knew that God wanted us to adopt her and so we began taking one step at a time.
It is now September. Karina is back in her orphanage in Odessa and we continue to work through the adoption process. Our home study is to be complete this week. God has provided everything we have needed every step of the way and we know that he will provide for all that is left. This has been a great lesson of faith for us and it has strengthened our trust as we wait on his provision and timing.
We miss Karina and love her as our own daughter. Today we received a message from Ukraine that Karina loves us “hugely” and is counting down the days for us to come get her.
By God’s grace we are coming soon, Karina.
To be continued…
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