UKRAINE MISSION: Mom, son spend 2 weeks with kids

Published 11:46 pm Friday, July 29, 2016

The Bible says, “I will not leave you as orphans, I will come to you.”

Through nothing but divine intervention, Candy Parker and her son, Ben, traveled more than 5,700 to minister to orphans in the Ukraine.



Parker said she learned of Bridges of Faith, which is near Clanton, last year.

“We met with them and talked and did activities,” she said.

They went to Bridgestone, a portion of Bridges of Faith, and acted as a host family.

“I fell in love with the whole idea and those kids in particular,” she said. “Tom Benz is the facilitator, and he approached us about going on this trip.”

The mission trip was to reach out to people in the orphanages.

Parker said that when she was asked to go the trip was two weeks away.

“It was a whirlwind,” she said. “We didn’t even have passports at the time.”

The mother-and-son duo left July 9 and returned July 23.

It was a 14-hour flight to Ukraine and a four-hour drive from the airport to the camp.

“Previously, they had always going to orphanages or camps,” she said. “There, the government puts orphans in a camp and there are usually 30 to 50 children.”

Their destination was a privately run camp with 200 children, 35 of those orphans.

“It was really neat that we got to not only work with the orphans, but we got to reach those other kids,” she said.

With the other children, Parker said they were able to get a huge taste of their culture.

She said they had talent shows, ate food with the children and had the opportunity to share.

They took items such as play dough and bracelets over to share.

“They all wanted to be a part of what we were doing,” she said. “We had 15-20 kids to begin with, and by the end of the trip, the majority of the kids were coming.”

She said their mission was similar to Mission Andalusia in terms of outreach and telling Bible stories.

“Our goal, of course, was to share the gospel,” she said.

There was a language barrier, she said.

“They spoke Ukrainian and Russian,” she said. “So, we had a translator.”

Parker said the group also exceeded the expectations of some of the locals who were skeptical.

“One man, said he thought it was a joke that we were coming,” she said.

He didn’t understand why Americans were coming over with no benefits.

“By the end of the two weeks, he said he would love for us to come back,” she said.

Ben said he enjoyed interacting with the children.

“There was a lot of pointing and hand gestures,” he said due to the language barriers.

“I learned that the kids in the Ukraine have the same needs as kids here,” he said.