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. The majorities 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. Within five years of graduation from the orphanage, ten percent of the children 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 involvement are common for them. Sixty percent of the girls are trafficked.
In contrast, adopted Ukrainian orphans fare quite well. In 2012, Snezhana, a beautiful fourteen-year-old orphan from Ukraine, came for cultural exchange at Bridgestone. She asked Bridges of Faith volunteers to pray with her. She yearned for a family – a forever home – where she could give herself, her love, and her heart. She wanted to belong.
Sunday night, the last night on campus at BridgeStone, she wept bitter tears. “God doesn’t hear prayers. No one wants me. He doesn’t care.” Kim, a wonderful young volunteer, comforted her as best she could, her own heart crushed.
All the time, God worked invisibility. Through a newspaper article in Huntsville, He piqued the interest of an amazing family. Not familiar at all with Bridges of Faith, they decided to visit BridgeStone to meet the children and to under-stand the program that very Sunday evening!
After meeting Snezhana, they didn’t want to meet anyone else. God stirred their hearts all the way home. As the sun rose on Monday, this entire family, parents and children, knew that God had broken their hearts for Snezhana. But what would she say? They only barely met. While they knew the desire that He put in their hearts, how would Snezhana respond if they asked her to be part of their family?
The father called Tom and shared the family’s thoughts. Tom then called BridgeStone to initiate the
Now, this beautiful young lady has learned English, become part of a wonderful family and graduated from high school. Here’s what Snezhana says about her first semester of college:
“I’m done with my first semester of college, without dropping any of my classes or saying, ‘I can’t do this.’ I took my last final in English class. I did pretty good on it. My first semester is done with three A’s and two B’s! To be honest, I’m pretty proud of myself.”
Not only is she succeeding in her academic life, she also spends time giving back to the groups pof orphans that come to campus!