Since 2006, Fimiam Church along with brothers and sisters from other churches has been hosting camps for adults, children and youth with disabilities. There were two or three camps each summer, sometimes more. Every day at camp gives people with disabilities many pleasant impressions and positive emotions. But the full-scale war on the territory of our country brutally interrupted the tradition of gathering together for relaxation and studying God’s Word. Moreover, it has forced millions of people, including thousands with disabilities, to leave their homes and seek refuge and safety abroad. As a result, no one could plan or even think about having retreats this year.
Throughout the spring, NGO Agape Ukraine managed to evacuate 12 groups of people to countries in Europe. Six hundred people with disabilities and their family members from various cities and regions of Ukraine settled in Germany, Switzerland and Holland for an indefinite period of time. Part of the team ministering to people with disabilities also left with each group, including Serhiy and Natalka Bolchuk.
In order to comfort, support and encourage the refugees, Serhiy and Natalka had a desire to hold retreats for them where they are now located. After two months of negotiations, preparations, and planning via Zoom since the team would be gathering from two sides of the world, Ukraine and the USA, we managed to hold four retreats.
“Living Hope for Everyone” was the name of the program that was organized and conducted by 40 volunteers and reached 180 people. On July 30 – August 3, a retreat took place in Bamlach, Germany; on August 5, in Neckarzimmern, Germany; and on August 7, in Maur, Switzerland. We finished with a picnic in Schwäbisch Gmund, Germany on August 9.
It was an incredibly blessed time of fellowship, a variety of activities, support groups for women and men, Bible classes for children, craft studios and art therapy.
Fleeing from an external war, many of these people are also experiencing an internal war, so it was very valuable for them that they were able to talk at the support groups. All who wanted also received a consultation with Oksana Kokoten, a psychologist from Lutsk. After listening to and understanding the problem, she gave them valuable advice based on God’s Word.
The improvised barbershop was a great blessing to people. Without fail, Nadiya Borschch, a professional hairdresser from the United States, created real miracles, transforming women into charming ladies and men into well-groomed gentlemen.
The program each day concluded with an evening meeting that included musical worship, testimonies and the preaching of the Gospel.
For people with disabilities and their relatives, these retreats were a real relief and they could not help expressing gratitude that for their sake the volunteers overcame a long journey to encourage and remind them of the hope that God gives.
– We are “marinating in our own juice” here. Each day is as if pre-programmed: one and the same. Neither stability nor security delighted me anymore. You brought us a breath of fresh air. You brought a sense of inner peace that you yourselves were filled with. I really want to have this peace for myself.
– At first, it was difficult for me to reconcile with the injustice (as it seemed to me at the time) that the East was being bombed, while the West was living as if nothing had happened. When the team came from the safety of America and the Volyn region and tried to build a relationship, I wanted to shout: “You don’t understand us.” But what most influenced a change in my thinking was the fact that you showed love and care not with words, but by your daily life. Praise God that you did not experience the horror that I experienced and because of this you were able to help us evacuate and then you gave up your own comfort to come and serve us.
– Every day I tortured myself with the thought that my life has no My house is gone, my Motherland is gone, my husband of 41 years is gone. Why did God leave me? But after today’s meeting, I realized that my storm has not yet calmed down, but Jesus is in my boat (laughs… who knows, maybe he is sleeping too or letting me feel my own helplessness). Thanks for the ray of hope that everything will be fine.
All events took place with support from:
- NGO Agape Ukraine
- NGO Samuel Koch und Freunde (Germany)
- Reach Global (USA)
- Cornerstone Church (Parma, Ohio, USA)
- Fimiam Church (Lutsk)