Live From Kiev
IT WAS DIFFICULT FOR Karen Springs to graduate from Seattle Pacific University in 2004 — but not because her grades weren’t topnotch. Instead, Springs says she didn’t want to leave because of the important and lasting bonds she had formed with faculty and staff who became her mentors.
It was those mentors, however, who challenged her to think globally and to understand that she was part of something bigger than herself. Consequently, the theatre and communication major packed her bags shortly after graduation. Her destination? Ukraine. Springs now works with “The Gift of Adoption” arm of Operation Blessing, a humanitarian aid agency of the Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) that helps provide care and placement for Ukrainian orphans.
The problem she faces is a significant one: an estimated 100,000 orphaned children. “Since the fall of communism,” Springs explains, “alcoholism, crime, and the number of broken families have soared. Orphans are the inevitable result. They are believed to be cursed — bad blood, someone else’s problem. Because they have not been integrated into society, they suffer from statistically higher rates of crime, prostitution, and suicide.”
Springs and her colleagues want to banish that stigma and enlist the local Ukrainian church to come alongside orphans as part of the biblical mandate to “defend the cause of the weak and fatherless.” At a large media center that produces Christian programming in Kiev, she assists in creating a variety of content for television, radio, film, and the Internet to educate Ukrainians about orphans’ needs and to encourage people in the United States to support such outreach.
“I know that finding homes for that many orphans is impossible,” she says, “but if we can help the churches to partner with the orphanages in every city, soon it’s the Body of Christ investing in kids’ lives.”
As part of her work in Ukraine, Springs also promotes international adoptions, as well as “Life Skills Training” among orphans aged 15–18, who must soon leave orphanage care. “We’re writing a manual and helping them acquire skills such as personal hygiene, financial management, conflict resolution, and how to get a job,” she explains. “A lot of the basic things were done for them in the orphanage. Some have never seen an egg cracked open.”
Springs admits to having days when the corruption and the tumult in the world make her question how much she can really accomplish. It is then that she sometimes thinks back to her days as a peer advisor in the SPU residence halls, her student mission trip to Russia, or the classes and professors who challenged her to think beyond her borders. “I don’t want to miss out on the blessing,” she says. “By grace, believers have been adopted into God’s family. Our love for these children is a reflection of Christ’s love for the church.”
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