April 2016 news letter

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Dear brothers and sisters,

Let me tell to you about the work of our Center in April.

We continue our ministry to the refugees and the military. In April we conducted 20 counseling sessions with the veterans in the hospital, 29 with the refugees, and also 4 group sessions for the military men and their families.

From April 24 through May 1, we had guests, Chris Gill, an American veteran, a missionary, and the founder of the Soldier’s Heart Mission, Birmingham, Alabama, USA, and Tom Saxon, a minister of the Cahaba Park church, Birmingham, Alabama, USA. He and his wife Mary have spent many years in ministry to the people of Odessa. And they continue doing this to the present day.

Three months ago, while my husband and I were on a trip to Birmingham, Tom introduced us to Chris Gill. And now Chris and Tom came together to Odessa to help our Center with our ministry! Chris conducted three meetings dealing with issues of posttraumatic stress disorder and moral injury with the military who participated in the operations and also with civilians who are or were in the occupied territories. Acting chaplains of the Ukrainian army and soldiers who had returned from the war and those who continue to fulfil their duty, protecting Ukraine from the Russian aggression, came to these meetings. Also, Chris and Tom visited the wounded soldiers at the military hospital in Odessa.

All the meetings went really well! Chris' communication with the soldiers and the chaplains was especially valuable. It does not really matter what language the soldiers speak… Chris and our soldiers seized each other’s meanings at once. For our guys, Chris experience turned out to be very valuable. They saw a military man from another country who had gone through the same experience which they are now going through. Our soldiers were much encouraged by Chris. Chris is willing to continue the ministry to our military and is ready to conduct group sessions with the military and their families through Skype! It is a great opportunity for all of us!

Chris and Tom visited with us the migrants from the East of Ukraine and also helped to organize and conduct the wedding ceremony for a fine young refugee couple Marina and Dennis who met each other far from their native home, fell in love with each other and decided to become a family! Marina and Dennis have lived for one and a half years in Sergeevka. Marina suffers from Cerebral palsy. Dennis had already lived in Sergeevka when Marina arrived there as a refugee. He helped her to get out of the bus which brought her and other refugees to Sergeevka. This is how they got to know each other. One month ago Marina told us that she and Dennis wanted to get married, but they did not know what awaited them after the wedding, because they had threatened to oust the refugees from Sergeevka. Marina shared with us her dream to be a bride in a white dress, to have a really beautiful wedding and to invite guests… And we decided to help Marina and Dennis to arrange the wedding so that this day may remain forever in their memories in spite of the fact that they are now refugees and are going through hard times. We had a wonderful international wedding! See photos enclosed. We thank Bob Burnham for his outstanding job as a photographer!

Thank you for your prayers and help! Our ministry expands as more people contact us asking for help. We need your prayers and your support! Without your help we could not help so many people!

May the Lord bless you all!

With love in Christ,
Lena Kolker,
director of the Odessa Springs Christian Counseling Center