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Gennady, Alyona, and their happy blended family.

Report from an SGA-sponsored pastor near the war zone

Gennady Savenkov, SGA-Sponsored
Missionary Pastor in Zaporozhye, Ukraine

Three years ago, refugees from the Donetsk region in the eastern Ukraine conflict zone began to come to our town in large numbers. Our church held various activities for the refugees, and through them, we met a mother and her two children, who were named Nikita and Vanya. Nikita went to a class with our son Slavik, and they also went to soccer together.

Recently, we were holding an activity at the local children’s shelter for children who have been removed from their homes, and I was surprised to see Nikita there! My wife Alyona and I approached him, and when he saw us, he began to cry. Alyona held him and they wept together. No words were necessary. Social services told us that the mother had been drinking a long time. The man she had lived with returned from prison, and they began drinking together, leaving the children alone for several days. A neighbor saw their plight and took Nikita to the shelter, but Vanya was taken to their grandmother. Our family was not able to take Nikita in at that point because we didn’t have the necessary documentation.

Not long ago, the mother, named Julia, reappeared and came to ask us for help. She was in poverty and was sleeping somewhere in a basement. We spent the evening talking with her, and she repented! The church worked to find her a small house with furniture, tableware, and other needed items. But regaining custody of her children was a different matter and would take time. To complicate matters even further, the orphanage housing Nikita was going to have to send him elsewhere because they were over capacity. Julia tearfully begged us to take him as she had to put her life in order. So we wrote a request to the orphanage to bring Nikita home with us. Julia visits him and sometimes takes him for a walk in the city. Please pray for her in these early stages of her spiritual growth.

Please pray for our church and the ability to expand so we can manage all of the opportunities the Lord gives us.
Because our church building started as an ordinary house and then developed to hold so many ministries, we lack offices, a place to eat (fellowship room), utility room for summer camp equipment storage, a place to store humanitarian aid, and a kitchen. We need a nursery because we have a sharp increase in the number of newborns. Pray for God’s provision and wisdom to make the right decisions. Thank you so much for everything that you do for us. May the Lord reward you a hundredfold!

Editor’s Note: Gennady and Alyona have five children of their own and have adopted seven. In addition, they have taken in a needy family from a neighboring town—a mother with two children. All in all, this blended family is comprised of 17 people: 14 kids and three adults. We praise the Lord for Gennady and Alyona’s loving, giving witness.


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