I have faithfully followed God’s calling and stepped up to serve Ukrainian Orphans at Bridges of Faith. But what is Bridges of Faith really?
Joyfully radical, the BoF family lives James 1:27. Armed with lethal love, short-term teams invade Ukrainian orphanages, revolutionizing young lives that were headed for destruction. From camps for regional groups to bringing Ukrainian orphans to Alabama, God dramatically uses BoF to build lives and rescue damaged children.
Three times each year, Bridges of Faith brings Ukrainian orphans to BridgeStone, our 140 acre retreat center in Central Alabama, to taste Southern culture, faith, and life. All volunteer driven staff raise their own support and hundreds of people from across America and Ukraine work together to demonstrate His love for these kids. Though not an adoption agency, families meet the children and often invite these kids into their forever families. Though designed for the children they rock out worlds with who they are. All involved see the Face of God. No one is ever the same again.
Ukraine has over 100,000 orphans. Only approximately 10 present are orphaned due to death of a parent. The majority are social orphans – products of alcoholism, abandonment, or imprisoned parents. Every year, around 2,000 mothers abandon their babies in maternity hospitals. An estimated 6,000 to 7,000 more are abandoned at an older age or removed from home because of crime or neglect. These Orphans typically grow up in large state-run homes, which may house over 200 children. They are “evicted” at about age 17, insanely unprepared for life in the real world. With a lack or worldly skills, the majority of these orphans going into prostitution or the drug trade. Approximately 10 percent of these will attempt suicide before their 22nd birthday.
Bridges of Faith formed to bring short-term answers and long-term solutions to the 100,000+ orphans in Ukraine. Kids who stay in the orphanage face bleak statistical futures. Within five years of graduation from the orphanage, ten percent of the kids commit suicide. More than ten percent go to prison. Only ten percent make meaningful lives. The others live in the grip of life-controlling problems; drugs, crime, and mafia are common for them. Sixty percent of the girls are trafficked. Our programs give direction, hope, opportunities, and life.
The Ukrainian Orphan Project is the program in which Bridges of Faith International Children’s Fund revolves around. It takes 154,000 dollars of funding to bring two groups of ten Ukrainian orphans for four-week Christian camp experiences at BOF’s retreat facility in Alabama in the summer It covers transportation, food, lodging, interpreting services, health/travel insurance, speakers/activities, overhead, and incidental necessary expenses. During the children’s time in Alabama, they experience Alabama life and culture through camping, touring educational sites, teaching settings, and visiting homes and families. Children participate in a variety of activities such as Braves baseball games, trips to the Gulf Coast and the
USS Alabama, and attending events at the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. English and bible lesson are incorporated into the everyday curriculum for these children as well as a variety of games, crafts, and lessons.
The ongoing miracle of BridgeStone provides the setting for eternally changed lives. Some describe special locations as thin places, places where the barrier between heaven and earth almost disappears. Over the years, many people have found new direction, new life, forgiveness, healing, restoration and love in this truly thin place. Add the crazy fun of the Almighty Mud Run, the beautiful Goodwin Pool, paintball and other great activities to great meals and rich relationships, and you begin to understand the miracle called BridgeStone.
But I know you want more information on a personal level and I will give it to you! Stayed tuned for my next installment on following the road God leads me!