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Last September, Patsy Swecker and a group of fellow Christians traveled to Ukraine for what became a life-changing experience. She discovered, the orphan teens in Ukraine are more than orphans, they are individuals, each blessed with unique talents and gifts and a deep yearning for the love of family. She now carries in her heart the desire to share her love with these orphans who have been abandoned, but not forgotten. Patsy and her husband Gerry live in Charles City and attend Williamsburg Community Chapel.
1. What led you to get involved with and support Heart for Orphans?
The Holy Spirit placed on my heart the desire to become involved in Heart for Orphans after my conversation with Elisabeth Hathaway. When I shared Elisabeth’s story with my husband, Gerry, he quickly embraced my desire to support Heart for Orphans and we began to pray about how we could impact the ministry. Our first step was to make a donation, but we wanted to do more.
2. What was the most inspiring and/or unexpected thing you discovered about Heart for Orphans?
I was blessed to grow up in a loving home with two parents who shared God’s love with me. So it was hard for me to imagine a life without a family and parents who encouraged me to make good decisions based on faith in Jesus Christ. I was thrilled to discover Heart for Orphans is accomplishing this through the homes they provide teens who have aged- out of orphanages. These family-style homes are changing the lives of these young adults by giving them the opportunity to know Jesus and learn skills that will enable them to lead productive lives. They are being given hope!
3. How has the Summer Vision Trip impacted you?
I returned from the trip a changed person. There were so many orphans, house parents, and missionaries that touched my heart on the trip. Each one of them had their own story. From the two year old who ran up to me, raised her arms and said “Mama”, to our interpreter who grew up in one of the Heart for Orphans homes and is now making a difference in another country as a missionary. Then there is the handsome young orphan living in a handicap orphanage that smiles and is intellectually bright, but faces no future because he has no legs.
4. What surprised you most about the teen orphans?
Most of the teen orphans in Ukraine face a bleak future of crime, addiction, or prostitution. They are viewed as second- class citizens, a stigma they carry throughout their lives. But the good news I can share is the teens I met in the Heart for Orphans transition homes are turning their lives around as they accept Christ and put Him in control.
5. What words of advice or encouragement would you give others considering getting involved with Heart for Orphans?
I am reminded of a quote from Henry Drummond that reflects my feelings about this trip…“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have really lived, are the moments when you have done things in a spirit of love.” Living in the United States, it is hard to imagine that we can make a difference in the lives of orphans who live so far away. This is a misconception! I saw firsthand lives that have been transformed through the Heart for Orphans ministry. Gerry and I began with a donation which enables the ministry to reach out to teen orphans in Ukraine and create a refuge for them, but the confirmation came when we actually experienced time with the orphans whose lives have been changed. Yes, we can and are making a difference.
If you are interested in learning more about going on a trip with Heart for Orphans and making a difference in the lives of God’s children, please contact our office at 757-220-3457. Our next trip will be September 10 -20, 2014.