In The Atlantic Community
Welcome to another week!
Last Tuesday I had the privilege of listening to Kasey Newhard, a senior at Saegertown High School, give a PowerPoint presentation about her life-changing mission trip to Ukraine. She went to Ukraine with her pastor and six volunteers from her church, Living Waters in Meadville.
The mission trip was from January 18 through 26. It took two days to get there including all the layovers. The first place the missionaries visited was Covenant Church in Odessa. They meet underneath a drug store, which is the biggest space these Ukrainian Christians could afford. While at Covenant Church they met in small groups, read and discussed Bible verses.
Kasey had many unforgettable experiences while she was in Ukraine. The first was buying a little girl a bike for $1,700 rubles, the equivalent of $25 American dollars.
Kasey’s next powerful experience occurred at The Way Home Shelter. The kids there have very bitter hearts. Some are orphans; some have parents and live there anyway. There are lots of orphans in Ukraine because it is at war with Russia, something American media gives very little attention to. Other orphans are from parents who couldn’t afford to keep their kids, so they gave them up for adoption.
One little girl, Yulia, made an impression on Kelsey. She had a tumor on her arm that caused her a lot of pain. A Ukrainian explained that even if Yulia went to a doctor, the medical care she would’ve received wouldn’t have been enough to help.
The translator asked Kasey to pray for Yulia. As Kasey started to pray, the translator said Yulia was saying, “My arm is getting warm; it’s getting hot.” Kasey believes God started healing her tumor at that moment and that he will heal the tumor completely.
While at The Way Home Shelter, the missionaries helped the kids make crafts, told Bible stories, and Living Word’s pastor delivered a sermon. Then they distributed blankets. When the missionaries gave Dum Dums lollipops to the children, Kasey said, “You’d think you’d given them the world. They were so happy and so grateful.” The kids were thrilled to get candy because in Ukraine only rich kids can afford candy.
Kasey met two teen girls who spoke English while she was in Ukraine. Whenever she tried to talk to them, they were quick to tell her they were atheists. But they eventually came to classes her group taught and gave their hearts to Christ.
The group then ministered at Kualnik Shelter, an unheated 15-story former Soviet air building. It is not sponsored by any group. Many people there had colds and flu and were very sick.
Homeless people, the mentally and physically disabled, orphans, and war refugees live in Kualnik Shelter. When they heard missionaries were coming, hundreds of people showed up. They brought the mentally and physically disabled to the shelter while the missionaries were there because they knew they would pray for them.
Kasey saw one little boy standing off alone with a dead look in his eyes. She tried to get him to play with the other children. A man at the shelter, Max, said in broken English, “This boy has no joy.” Kasey and the others prayed so hard for him. Later the little boy went to another group and they got him to smile. Kasey found out that he is a refugee. One or both of his parents are dead and the other caretaker is disabled. Bringing him “a little joy, the joy Jesus brings, was utterly amazing,” Kasey said.
Kasey also talked to another girl standing alone. She was an orphan. Her parents are not allowed to leave Russia because of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict. Kasey was able to minister to her and, through a translator, tell her about Jesus. The little girl decided she wanted this Jesus in her heart and when Kasey left the girl knew she wasn’t as alone now that she had Jesus with her.
Kasey’s mission group also visited The Mercy House Rehabilitation Center outside Odessa, Ukraine. They are currently trying to build a new house for victims of the sex slave trade.
Seeing the work God is doing in Ukraine and knowing God is moving really touched Kasey. “Our God is still healing and still doing miracles every day,” she said.
When she got home from her mission trip and shared her experiences with her friends, they were skeptical. But she knows God is at work in the world. She also learned that God is working in her.
When Kasey left the United States she was very shy. She couldn’t speak in front of a crowd. But God helped her speak at Covenant Church in Ukraine. Afterward, some people gave their lives to Christ.
Kasey had a life-altering experience while in Ukraine. The last night of the trip she sensed God leading her pray for Irina, the translator who sponsored the trip. As Kasey prayed, Irina said, “My hand is getting warm. When I feel this, I know I’m supposed to heal someone.” She laid her hands on Kasey, who felt God reassuring her that this was his will. She felt no physical sensation, but she knew he was healing her Celiac disease.
Later Kasey asked God for a sign that he’d healed her. The first time she took communion at her home church after returning, she got her sign. Her minister typically offered her gluten-free bread during communion. But this time they only had wheat bread. She took the bread and ate it. Usually within ten minutes of eating wheat she started to experience allergy symptoms. This time she felt perfectly healthy after eating the wheat bread and has had no problem with wheat since. Kasey knows God has healed her.
Have a wonderful week. Blessings!