Bring the orphan into your house

28 March

Lately the project directed to help orphans have been created. More and more Christian families adopt orphaned kids. But what if a child has no chance to be adopted because they are either addicts already or have AIDS? They have been living on the street for a long time. They forget whet the family, clean bed and normal food mean. All they have is a habitual terror of basements, polyethylene sack with some glue and decaying wounds caused by dirty syringes… And what if they are only 8, 10, 12 years old or maybe 5 or 6… And they are already street kids.

—To adopt hopeless kids is a feat of faith. And Gennadiy Mokhnenko, the president of the charity fund “ Pilgrim” ( the website of the fund: http://m-х.огg.uа/) from Mariupol considers that it is a calling of every believer. He says: “ Any church has to be in the core of the pain and trouble to salt any situation wit the Word of Gospel and to bring good changes”. At the fund the center of children’s rehabilitation “ Republic “ Pilgrim” functions. About 70 adolescents have their rehab course there presently. Mostly these are street kids and basement kids. The majority of them are drug addicted. Since February 2000 about 2700 kids have passed through the rehabilitation here and more than 60% have been returned to their families or boarding schools. And the guardianship was made for many of them. Some children were adopted. The life of the children in “Pilgrim” is an exciting journey. Otherwise it’s impossible to work with the kids of such category. Sports is a significant part of the program. Three of the children from the center are the champions of Ukraine in boxing among juniors. The pilgrims even climbed up on the Elbrus Mount. The Gospel is a basis of everything. Gennadiy Mokhnenko tells the Goods News of Jesus Christ everywhere either by the mountain river or on the top of the mountain. Gennadiy himself has his own 3 kids and 9 fostered – former street kids. Recently he has buried one of his fostered kids who died of AIDS. And being in reanimation department the 15-year-old prayed his last prayer and his foster father followed him in the prayer. Gennadiy Mokhnenko is a historian, sociologist and Master of Theology, the author of the book “ Execute not to pardon” and works over the book “ Republic “ Pilgrim”. It’s gonna tell about same name center where daily moving, funny and sad stories happen. With the help of this book the author wants to attract the attention of churches to the question of adoption. In Ukraine there about 36 000 Christian churches and about 100000 orphaned kids. If in every church only 2-3 people who would adopt at least one child the Ukrainian boarding schools will be emptied. Though in Russia the situation with the orphans are more dramatical ( factually it’s worse than it used to be after the World War II) but it can be changed. Mokhnenko hoped that there will be the day when the most horrible monument to the Soviet epoch –boarding school filled with orphans – will disappear. How do the believers treat the adoption of HIV+ kids? Quite often not only unbelievers but also believers call us crazy. I heard that in one of the states of the US there’s a law according to this law you sign a paper where in the case if a kitten or a puppy you take from the shelter turned out to be lame or blind you are obliged to leave him at your home. But when I think about the process of the selection of a child by the adoptive parents it hurts me horribly. The Christians must take care of orphans especially when it’s a question of drug addicted kids or HIV+. This is the only chance for those kids to grow up in the family atmosphere – with Mom and Dad. For this world it must be the mighty testimony of our Christian life.

— What had induced you to be engaged in orphans?
10 years ago we had started working with addicts. We gathered rich experience – over 30 rehab centers had been opened. And then we came across addicted children. Responding this problem we had tried our best to start the ministry to street kids. When you serve – you love. When you love –you just start doing something. We started fostering and adopting former street kids. Praise to God, it had radically changed the lives of many children. The kids started serving to the Lord, got to the Christian families. Our funds also works with HIV+ children. For me, unfortunately, it is habitual to stand by the coffin of the dead adolescent who died of AIDS. Are you always ready to the death of a child?. – I’d like of course to see another life’s final. But the very fact that the teen doesn’t die in the basement but in the family of believers and with the paryer on his lips with the gratitude in his heart to the people that became so close to him – this is the result of our work. I have also got one adopted son who’s 21. His mother used to be an acrobat in Moscow circus – and she came to grief. Her first and second husband hit the bottom being alcoholics. Her older son committed suicide. She didn’t care of 5-year-old Andrey and he started living on the street. He soon started smoking and using drugs, snuffing glue. Having come to the “Republic “ Pilgrim” at the age of 12 he started learning to play guitar and graduated from the Musical School, now he get ready to enter the Musical Academy. Andrey is very talented. He composes the psalms and runs the Worship team in the church. But for sure there are such teens in your center that can barely be set free of “love to street life”, aren’t there? To my regret there are such. There were cases when we picked up the kids from the basements 20-30 times but he still ran away. And all over sudden he comes back on his own. And brings his friends to “Pilgrim”. Probably at some point we cross the Rubicon when real changes come to pass in the life of a little person and he wants to come back to the community of Christians. If we don’t give up in this as it seemed unsuccessful battle we as a rule see the positive result afterwards. At a definite point the street kids cease believing that somebody loves them on this Earth. And to return this faith to them it often takes time.

Can you call your spouse Helen – your colleague in the question of adoption? I just can’t do this work without her support. I am very thankful to my wife. She is always by my side all these years. My daughters of 12 and 14 alongside with my 1-year-old son grow with the former street kids. I am often asked if I am afraid for the future of my children. The best thing I can teach my kids – is to serve others. If they see me in the ministry to God, it is goona become a part of their life, their calling.

How do the citizens of Mariupol perceive you? — Almost everybody in our city heard about us. The lord took care of a good reputation. The work of the center is much spoken about on TV. The city powers support us. Recently the mayor of the city awarded the pilgrims with the watches with graving “ For courage”. The Lord is glorified when we do His will on this Earth. When we had just started our center the local paper published an article: “ It is good that the believers go to the basements and pick up the kids. But we can’t trust the sectarians for they are going to raise them as religious fanatics and it is even worse that robbers”. I am glad we hadn’t got scared such evaluation of our work and went on… Later this very journalist has published just the opposite article about us, and the leaders of the city started shaking hands with the leaders of ‘ Pilgrim” before the cameras and correspondents. When Victor Yanukovich was a governor of Donbass he had visited us personally. He gave the most positive grade to our work before the journalists.

I believe that there will be the day when in Ukraine and Russia there will be lines of those who’d like to adopt an orphan. But for today tens and even hundreds of kids dream to have a family. So, pastors, I address to you, please, preach about adoption more and more in your churches. Give these kids a chance to be loved and to have families.


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