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Hoover’s Green Valley Church helps Ukrainian orphanages, ministriescomment (0)

October 16, 2008

By Megan Norris Jones

When a team from Green Valley Baptist Church, Hoover, took a missions trip to Ukraine last summer, it wasn’t a one-time effort.

It was part of the Birmingham Baptist Association church’s ongoing commitment to missions and ministry in that country. The church began doing missions work there in 2000 and continues its ministry with fund-raising activities throughout the year.

Green Valley Baptist works with the Southern Baptist Convention’s International Mission Board and Lifesong for Orphans, a nondenominational group that focuses on aiding orphans around the world, and each missions trip includes projects for both organizations.
The church has also found ways to transform events it already hosts into benefits for Lifesong. One such event is Wayne’s Environmental Services Lifesong for Orphans Charity Classic. Once a simple community outreach event, the golf tournament raised $26,000 in 2007 and $23,000 this year. All of the profits go to Lifesong’s transition house project.

The goal of the transition houses is to provide a Christian environment for orphans graduating out of the child-care system to continue their education, learn job skills and transition into adulthood instead of being tossed out on their own to face the drugs, alcohol and prostitution that are prevalent in Ukraine.

For David Byrd, Green Valley’s education minister, the best part of the tournament isn’t the golf. “It’s when I travel to Ukraine and walk through a completed transition house, seeing how nice it is and knowing these young people have a better chance because some people got together and played golf,” he said.

A major site of the church’s work is Loubetin Orphanage, located west of Kharkov, Ukraine. The nearly 350 orphans ages 7 through 18 living there are taught job skills and training, such as agriculture, sewing and baking. One of Green Valley’s early projects was to build a barn for the agriculture program’s cattle. These cows provide milk for the orphanage, and better facilities allowed the orphanage to expand its program and production.

“We saw that as a way that we could really help those kids,” said Lyn Scarbrough, a church member who has been team leader and a regular volunteer with the Ukraine ministry. He has also served on the board of directors of Lifesong.

The involvement with the Ukrainian orphanages stretches to all members of Green Valley — even to its youngest.

Every year, the church picks a particular project and goal that the offering collected during Vacation Bible School (VBS) goes toward.

The first year, the offering went to buy 80 new mattresses and blankets, new towels and a new oven and stove for Veesokie Orphanage, where the staff had been cooking for 80 children on a stove with only one working eye.

This year, the VBS offering raised $3,600.

“It starts building up in the minds of preschoolers and grammar schoolers — the practice of giving and helping others,” Scarbrough said of the VBS initiative.

In fact, he cited two teenagers who had first come into contact with the Ukrainian ministry during VBS and decided to participate in a missions trip as a result.

“You can’t do everything for everybody, but we are challenged biblically and ethically to do something,” Scarbrough said.

For more information on Lifesong, visit www.lifesongfororphans.org.

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