Blue River’s involvement in Ukraine mission work began in 2004 when we partnered with our brothers and sisters from the Church of Christ in Dobropolie, Ukraine to hold a Bible camp for children from the state-run orphanage in their community. Since this initial connection, the work has blossomed into several other areas that we support today.
Bible Camps for Orphans
We sent mission teams from Blue River to lead Bible camps each summer from 2004 through 2008. In the fall of 2008, the Dobropolie orphanage was closed and the children were moved to Donetsk, Ukraine and Mariupol, Ukraine. Since 2008, we have provided funds to Mission Ukraine to hold these summer camps.
Thanks to generous donations of Blue River members we were able to help our brothers and sisters in Ukraine purchase an apartment in Donetsk, Ukraine. The Belokonniy family from the Downtown Church of Christ in Donetsk lives in the apartment directly above this apartment. Andrei Belokonniy remodeled this apartment for us. In 2010, when the renovation was completed this apartment was opened as a halfway house for orphans when they graduate from the state run orphanage. Andrei and Marina Belokonniy serve as the guardians and mentors for the orphans that live there. The apartment can hold four orphans comfortably. Monthly living expenses for the orphans that live in this apartment are provided by members from Blue River that serve as sponsors. This apartment has been a safe haven for three girls so far.
Blue River continues our partnership with the Dobropolie Church of Christ by providing financial support for the following ministries:
“Car Top” Ministry - When the orphanage closed, Dobropolie church purchased an old car for $600 from money donated by Blue River and started a “car top” ministry. Members travel to neighboring communities and set out free Christian literature and Bibles provided by “Eastern European Missions” on the hood and trunk of the car. Through this ministry many Ukrainians have come to know about Jesus. In fact, new Christians converted through the “car top” ministry began meeting together in Belozyorskoe.
Visitation/Benevolence Ministry – The Church visits the hospital and nursing homes frequently taking care packages that include food, EEM reading material, and Bibles. Conditions in the hospitals are very poor. This act of care and encouragement is a great testimony of the love of Christ.
Vacation Bible School Day Camp – Since 2009, the Church has held a 6-day VBS day camp at the Church building. This camp has been a great outreach to the children in the community and a wonderful way for them to get to know some of the parents of these children.
Singing School Camp
New Christians in Ukraine have little background singing hymns in praise to God. Stan Bryant had an idea of a way to strengthen singing in some of these small churches. In 2010, he planned a summer camp and invited a few representatives from different churches, spending the week by teaching them to sing songs in the four parts. Each group could then go back home and take the music to their churches and teach their congregation the new songs with harmony. Blue River has provided financial support to help some of the brothers and sisters from Dobropolie attend this camp each year. This has really been an encouragement to the whole Dobropolie congregation, as those who return from camp share with the congregation the songs they learned there.