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Liberty students work in prayer groups, make blankets to donate to orphanage in Ukraine
Prayer groups across Liberty’s campus have been busy this semester, making over 140 fleece blankets for orphans in Ukraine who are in need of warmth and God’s love.
Tiffany Waters, a junior and a prayer leader at Liberty, and her sister Natalie, an aviation major at Liberty, visited Ukraine, saw the conditions that children living in orphanages were subjected to and decided to take action.
Waters first went to Russia and Ukraine in 2007 through her parents’ ministry, which provides school supplies to needy children. Many of the children in the orphanages were abandoned by parents with substance addictions and some were taken away from abusive guardians.
“I looked at the beautiful little ones and could see the sadness and loneliness written on their faces,” Waters said.
The condition of the orphanages that Waters visited in Russia and Ukraine were unbelievable, Waters said. Children sleep all in one room, shower together and go to the bathroom in rooms without privacy.
Malnutrition sweeps through the orphanages and the poor bed quality causes children to develop scoliosis. The children face abuse often, even from each other.
“We spent the night in one orphanage in Russia,” Waters said. “I remember, it was December and there was snow on the ground. It was the coldest night I’ve ever experienced. The wind whipped around the orphanage and it was almost impossible to sleep. I sat in the bed and thought about having to sleep in that room every night and it chilled me even more.”
Waters went to Chris Deitsch, Discipleship Pastor and Associate Director of Prayer Leaders, last year and asked for his help in providing blankets for the children in need.
Deitsch spread the word of the blanket drive to the prayer leaders through their prayer leader class at the beginning of this semester. He showed a video, made by Waters and her sister, that taught the prayer leaders how to make a blanket.
After making the blanket, prayer groups were encouraged to fill it with letters and pictures for the kids.
“I thought it was an awesome prayer group thing,” Deitsch said. “An event or evening that a prayer group could spend together, getting to know each other, making a blanket, doing something for the future and doing something for someone together. I think one of the greatest ways to draw together as people is to serve together.”
Prayer leader TJ Borneisen, sophomore, and his prayer group of five guys made a blanket seeking to “tangibly share the love of Christ,” Borneisen said.
“The blanket drive will be very beneficial to the children to keep them warm, as well as to share the love of Christ (with them),” Borneisen said. “Some of them have probably never received a gift in their life. (Making the blanket) brought my prayer group closer together through a hands-on experience. We were able to physically and spiritually share the love of Christ through (making the blanket) and the prayers that were lifted up for the child who would receive the blanket.”
Waters and her family will hand-deliver the blankets to orphans in Kiev, Ukraine in early January 2012. They will visit 150 to 200 orphans and if they have an excess of blankets, they will give them to needy kids in the area. They will not only bring warmth through the blankets but also the message of Christ’s love, Waters said.
“I’m a huge supporter of Samaritan’s Purse and Operation Christmas Child (but) I’ll never get to see a kid that got a shoe box that came from Liberty,” Deitsch said. “We’re going to get to see pictures and videos of the kids who are actually getting the blankets. We’re going to get to see the real people who are changed by this.”
There are over 100,000 orphans living in orphanages in Ukraine and just as many living on the streets. At 15 or 16, the children are forced to leave the orphanage.
“(After leaving the orphanage, many children) will enter lives of prostitution, crime and drug abuse,” Waters said. “Some will be lured into sex-trafficking and many will end up committing suicide. It is so important that we reach these children with the hope of Christ. We must point them toward the everlasting and unconditional love of their heavenly Father who can bind up their wounds and heal their hearts.”
The Office of Student Leadership is collecting the blankets. They want to get all the blankets turned in by Thanksgiving to start preparing them for delivery.
“If God gives you a vision to do something small, run with it and just see what He might actually do with it,” Deitsch said.