Go into all the world

Published 11:22 pm Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Eight people from Greensboro and two from Pell City joined to take a summer trip to Europe last month. This trip was not to see the sights in Paris or to bask on the Mediterranean coast of Italy. These people were, quite literally, on a mission, working with World Light Ministries to provide help for churches and orphanages in Ukraine.

“World Light Ministries originated in Pell City,” said Brenda Fuller, “and our pastor, Rev. Dee McGuire, became involved with World Light and the Ukraine while he was in Pell City.”

Greensboro Baptist Church members McGuire, Mike and Brenda Fuller, Rose Davis, Janice Day, Regina Washburn, Dr. Shelby Smith Sr. and Frances Smith and Daniel and Donna Leonard of Pell City took off from Birmingham bound for eastern Europe on July 14.

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From the airport in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, the group was joined by its drivers and translator, then left for Kirovograd, a 5-1/2-hour drive.

In Kirovograd, they met with the head of the Kirovograd Baptist Union, who was a medical doctor. They met each night to discuss that day’s events and the schedule for the following days.

The group’s mission got under way on July 17 at the Children’s Hospital. The group toured several departments at the hospital, met many of the doctors and shared with the patients, giving coloring books, crayons and candy to some of the children there. The group also made a monetary donation to the hospital.

Later in the day, the group visited the Central Baptist Church and toured a building under construction there.

On July 18, the group began its visits to the villages. It divided into two groups of five and traveled with five Ukrainian doctors in each group. Over the next six days, they visited 20 villages.

They held church services and had Vacation Bible School for the children, furnishing Bibles and literature to the people attending the services. The group also left a children’s Bible story book in each village.

Following the services, they held medical clinics, providing medicines and fitting people with reading glasses, which are very expensive in Ukraine. Dr. Smith held three services on July 20 at some churches and met with the youth of Central Church during the after-church activities, speaking with the local youth minister about the possibility of planning a youth revival next year.

Dr. Smith and Rev. McGuire held a pastors’ conference at Central Church, with 20 pastors in attendance.

During the summer, many orphans go to camps, but the group was able to visit the Shelter, which is the entry level for the orphanages. They also visited the orphanage in Pantaivka, which houses small children with special needs. The group shared Bible stories and sang songs so the children could participate. They handed out coloring books, crayons, candy and bananas and left Bible story books at each orphanage, and left monetary donations as well.

The group left Kirovograd on July 26, returning home the next day.

“We had many people come forward and make decisions to follow Jesus,” said Mike Fuller. “Many people in the villages saw doctors and received medicines that they needed. They also received reading glasses that are so expensive there. The entire team received a blessing from the trip.”

“This was my 11th trip to Ukraine,” said Brenda Fuller, “and the 13th trip for Mike. This is the third year that we have done this work in the villages.

“The people there mainly do not have any income except for their small government pensions of about $100 U.S. per month. They are very appreciative for the assistance that we provide. Some of these people never see a doctor, they are so far away. We furnish the money for medicine, and a group of Ukrainian doctors that we work with administer the medicine. We also have a dentist, and we carry and supply reading glasses.”

A large part of the reward for this kind of mission comes in simply helping others. When those helped are grateful, the reward jumps exponentially.

“Our greatest feeling of pride,” said Brenda Fuller, “was when a lady said, ‘I have been taught all my life that Americans are evil. Now that I have met some, I do not understand why they taught us this.’”