Jan 12, 2023 | 3 min read | Dave Patty
You begin to understand the pieces of the puzzle when God puts them together.
Three years ago, Oleksii and Yuliia moved from Ukraine to Slovenia to start a business. The housing development they built in the town of Irpin, just outside of Kiev, had been successful and they thought they would try their hand at flipping distressed properties in the Slovene capital city of Ljubljana.
Unfortunately, their business partner tragically died. Seeing another opportunity, Oleksii pivoted into web development and computer programming. Then, war broke out in Ukraine. Their housing project in Irpin was totally destroyed.
Yuliia had trusted Christ as a teenager and because of her witness, her entire family were now believers. They brought their parents out to safety and then opened their hearts and home to fellow Ukrainians who were fleeing. Soon there were 18 people living in their apartment and thousands following their Telegram and social media pages. They became one of the main contact points for refugees in all of Slovenia, so much so that they were featured on national television.
The Baptist church they are attending has one of the strongest youth ministries in the entire country; it happens to also be where several JV staff attend. Our team asked them to help get Ukrainian teenagers to summer camp, and, just two days later, the camp was full. Everyone trusted them, so it was enough just to post it on their social media.
Oleksii and Yuliia attended several of the JV camps themselves, and their 15-year-old son became the main translator for at least six of them. Watching the response at English and Fusion camps, they were amazed at the openness of the Ukrainian students and the life change that happened in such a short time.
At the end of the summer, they approached our JV staff with a bold plan. “We have to quit our jobs and devote our full-time attention to reaching the Ukrainian young people in Slovenia,” they said. With no training, no funding source, or experience, they stepped out in faith.
JV is now standing with this family financially, equipping them and making it possible for them to work with young people across Slovenia. Ukrainian teens take the train from other cities to the only Ukrainian youth group in the country, often spending the night before making their way home the next day. Now the parents are asking how they can get involved. Oleksii spontaneously planned a mountain hike for them and 50 showed up.
In just five months, over 80 Ukrainian young people have been impacted by the various programs. Oleksii is starting a coding club to equip them for future jobs—and share the good news of Jesus. God is using every piece of this puzzle to build his kingdom.
You, too, bring a piece of that puzzle. Thank you.
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