Graduate Ministry


By | Fundraisers, Graduate Ministry, Prayer Requests | No Comments

Today we were contacted by the Pravdinska Orphanage director about an accident that happened to one of their 2015 graduates. She was asking for financial help for Vitalik, a kid we’ve known for years from the orphanage. Unfortunately, it is a sad reality that kids are often kicked out of trade schools due to their bad decisions. We don’t know why, but this has become reality for Vitalik and he was kicked out of the trade school where he was studying in Sumy.

He recently fell from the fourth floor of the trade school dorm while trying to get in. According to what we’ve heard from the orphanage director, he broke his “ribs, jaw, face, pelvis, and injured internal organs.” He is obviously going to need extensive medical help, which will cost him more than he has.

We’re praying for healing, good doctors, and a full recovery from all his injuries. And that this will be something that helps him see the need for a change in his life. But we’re also praying that we can help support him through this and show him God’s love in the long road of recovery that he has ahead. If you would like to help contribute to his medical bills, you can use the link below. We will keep you updated as we hear more about his condition and prognosis.

Vitalik with his graduating class at Pravdinska


By | from the heart of Ira Taranenko, Graduate Ministry, Open Arms Lately, Orphanage Ministry | No Comments

These past weeks while the girls from OAU are at home, I went to orphanage to visit kids. One time I went there were no kids there, as they all were abroad or at home or at camp. Wednesday I visited orphanage again, this time there were seven of them. And that was kind of sad. I was thinking that they must feel lonely and nobody cares about them as there is no home for them even for summer… But that is the thing we see with our eyes. I am so incredibly thankful to God who cares about those kids more then biological parents could! And my prayer is that they will have amazing home in the heaven!         59fa9b874ce7fc65cf46c2991c8ade13a5d5e874964c735c3d2d8d3f0986658e.0

Also I met Dusya and her kids while I was in the village. That is always fun to spend time with them. I am impressed by Dusya’s strong and joyful character, how she lives with so many troubles and problems but she doesn’t stop caring about others.22d2dbe37a3680060fc211953a34f5b135190b5c0498f34479704af8fc8e3b5a


I was honored to have her and Valya for one day and night in Sumy. We did a lot of stuff: did documents for her, went to the movies, went shopping, even came to home group. Why doesn’t she live in Sumy??

Dusya and Ira
Once I visited our young mom Katya, Ruslan’s girlfriend (he’s a Pravdinska Orphanage graduate). And I was so happy to see how they love their baby Max, how hard Ruslan works to give his son everything he needs and even more. My hope is this family will be always together.


We still have Wednesday meetings at church, unfortunately there are not so many kids. The one girl who attends almost all meeting and sometimes comes to home group is Nadya. Once we walked home together and I found out she doesn’t have food so we decided to help her. She was so happy and thankful for help she didn’t even ask for. In such situations God reminds me verses from James 2:15-16 “Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?” People needs our actions.
Wednesday Meeting
In June our church team made two camps in villages. It was great time for us and for kids. One camp we have run for five years in Korshachina, so we know kids very well and they know us. I want to share with you one story. At very first picnic we made for kids 5 years ago Marina ‘s mom come to us drunk and yelled at Marina and us. Now her mom  comes to church 🙂 Marina saw a lot of bad people and situations connected with alcohol. Her face is mostly sad all the time. This camp she started to open up and we become closer friends. At camp she read Bible stories and I feel like she is close to God.

Ira and Marina



Another camp was in village where  big family from our church lives (they have 7 biological kids and 3 adopted). We were afraid of new teachers and kids, didn’t know how people would react. So we were asked not make pressure on kids about God or something. But one day our pastor was telling about what Jesus did for us on the cross and then prayed with kids and teacher who were there. And everything was great, thanks To God!



By | from the heart of Chelsea Rollins, Graduate Ministry, Open Arms Lately, Uncategorized | No Comments

These last couple of weeks have been packed with so many different things. Here are a couple highlights from the major things we have had going on…


Many of you probably remember Slavik. We shared his story about a year ago and asked for your prayers and support. Last summer he was arrested for stealing and has since been on house arrest. It has been a long year for him as he has had numerous court hearings and had to face many of the people he stole from. Recently we attended his final court hearing. It was extremely nerve racking for all of us as we sat and waited to hear whether or not he would be taken to prison. We prayed with him and were able to have numerous conversations with him about how he wants his life to look in the future. We are so excited to share with you that the Lord had mercy on Slavik and he was only sentenced to parole. THANK YOU so much for all of your prayers!

*As I sat here writing this Slavik came in and noticed that I was writing about him. I told him that I was updating everyone who has been praying for him and he wanted me to say that he is incredibly grateful for everyone who has been praying and for everyone that donated to pay for his lawyer. We thank God that He has granted Slavik a second chance and continue to pray that Slavik will choose to live his life for the Lord.


Another highlight from the last couple of weeks is that we had camp for our post-orphanage kids. The theme was God’s Eternal Kingdom and our pastor did an amazing job sharing the truth. We challenged them to really think about their view of God and how they are choosing to live their lives. Kids were honest in their responses and a handful of them had really good conversations with some of the leaders.

To be completely honest, due to a variety of circumstances, camp was rather different and more difficult this time. However, we are grateful for the moments that we saw God moving in their hearts.

Thank you again to those who sponsored kids for camp! We couldn’t have done it without you!





By | from the heart of Chelsea Rollins, Graduate Ministry, Open Arms Lately, Orphanage Ministry, Uncategorized | No Comments

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.”   ~Lamentations 3:22-23 

Isn’t it so amazing that we serve such an incredible God! No matter what we face we can trust that His love never ceases, His mercies are new every day, and He is always faithful.

These last couple of weeks have had some tough moments, but in the midst of it all we can hold tight to the fact that our God is in control. We are so thankful for His provisions and for what He is continuing to teach us all through the ministry we get to do here.

Here’s a look at some of the fun things we were blessed to be a part of lately…



We were able to sneak away and have some girl time with just Dusya and Vala. We had so much fun walking around a little town near her village and helping her get some of the things she needed.


A picture of our awesome team that made our two day program at the orphanage possible!


Ira helping a group of kids at the orphanage with their craft.


Super hero relays were a hit!


A few of the boys at the orphanage after they finished their photo scavenger hunt.


We woke up to such beautiful weather the other day that a trip to the village was a must. We spent the day fishing, playing games, and just hanging out. It was such a refreshing day for all of us!


Yesterday we celebrated Vala’s 8th birthday! We love her to pieces and are so blessed to be a part of her life!


She was so excited to celebrate and share cupcakes with her class.

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These last two weeks we have been partnering with Third Bear Candles to help raise money for our upcoming post-orphanage camp. Thank you so much to everyone who has been a part of this and to those of you who have sponsored kids. We couldn’t do what we do without you! If you haven’t purchased a candle yet don’t miss out! The campaign ends May 3rd!


Looking forward to the next Open Arms Lately when we can share pictures and stories from our post-orphanage camp.



By | Graduate Ministry | No Comments

As Christmas season is in full swing, we know that many of you have your plates full. But, we also wanted to give you an opportunity to be a part of something amazing within our ministry during this special time of year.

If you haven’t heard us talk about our weekly youth meetings before, here’s the lowdown: we partner with an amazing local church in Sumy and, alongside them, we hold weekly meetings much like your church youth meetings in the states. One major difference though is our amenities. Our church rents out a space, but their isn’t much to the room outside tables and chairs (which cover our basic needs).


Our meeting room as it currently stands.

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By | Graduate Ministry | No Comments

It had been a year since we were able to have camp due to refugees occupying the camps. So needless to say, we were all excited to have a camp anywhere we could find. Our theme was Hunger Games which was an extension of what our weekly meetings have been for the past month. The kids have enjoyed completing group challenges and having biblical discussions within their “districts”.IMG_1335 (1)

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By | Graduate Ministry | One Comment

IIMG_0641n July we shared Slavik’s story (here) concerning his arrest and difficult circumstances. We have recently spent more time with Slavik and wanted to update you on his situation. In July he was put on house arrest for stealing and has since been awaiting trial. His trial is officially set for this Monday, October 27th. Slavik shared with us that he committed his crime with a group of people and they are all being put on trial together. Read More


By | Graduate Ministry | No Comments
We are so excited to be just a day away from this year’s Fall Grad Camp! We are currently in the midst of final preparations and are incredibly thankful that camp was sponsored by the So-Cal Silent Auction that took place in September (thanks to everyone who was involved!).
The 3-day camp will be full of games, crafts, skits, Bible lessons, group discussions, worship, and so much lovin’! Along with all of that, Fall Grad Camp has an extra-exciting aspect because for the most recent orphanage graduates, it is their first chance to experience post-orphanage ministry with Open Arms. This is a huge opportunity for us to make a deep connection with them now that they are at trade schools and embrace them fully into all that Grad Ministry has to offer.
Join us in prayer for all that God has in store this weekend (October 11-13) as we take these kids to our favorite camp location outside Sumy. Things to pray for…
  • Vova (our amazing Ukrainian speaker): that he will be empowered to share with the grads about how God’s power can drive out all fear in our lives
  • New grads: that we will be able to contact each of them and help them make their way to camp
  • Open Hearts: that the grads’ hearts will be vulnerable and that God’s Word would impact them fully
  • Safety, travels, team, and more!
We can’t wait to come back and tell you all about the goodness that we know will take place!