Our Focus in Ukraine
Through music we strive for
Working towards a society that accepts all people regardless of dissability
Promoting equal access to services regardless of disabilities
Cities we build and live in reflect the heart of the society, therefore we strive for fully accessible built environments
How Access Ministry Began
The story of how the Access Ministry for Children with disabilities, starts like this…
A pastor and his wife had been eagerly awaiting the birth of their son, their fourth child. With three elder daughters, the birth of a son was one they had been praying for. However, happy expectation was met with tragedy at the birth as they were told that their son could not breath on his own. The boy was transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit and a long battle to save his life began.
The doctor who was treating the boy met with his father daily. Sometimes the news that he had to give was disappointing, but the doctor was amazed by the peace and confidence in the Pastor’s eyes. The doctor was curious whether the Pastor’s faith could really give him such peace of heart and mind. Finally, the day came when the doctor could deliver happy news, the boy began to breath on his own and his health was improving. Of course everyone rejoiced, even the head of department walked the halls shouting “he’s breathing” with his hands in the air. On the day that the boy was discharged from the hospital the Pastor gave the doctor a Bible as a gift.
The doctor who treated the Pastor’s son had a fiancé, she was also a doctor. She was sceptical of religion, and not a believer, but after hearing about the Pastor from her fiancé they both decided to read the Bible together with an open heart and a desire to seek answers for themselves. When people read the Word of God with an open heart, the Holy Spirit opens eyes and brings people to repentance. In June 2003 both doctors were baptized and three months later married in a church.
My name is Dr. Zoriana Vuiv and I was the fiancé of the doctor who looked after the Pastor’s son. After new found faith in my life I began to look at my patients differently. I stopped looking at them as visitors or patients who needed to be treated, but as people with real fears, pain, emotional and spiritual needs. I work as a neonatologist, a department that treats newborns born prematurely or with various pathologies. I see the same picture over and over again, a family eagerly anticipating the birth of their child, they can hardly wait to hold their baby in their arms, they dream of the person their baby will grow up to be, but all of this can be shattered when the child has health issues. What should have been a joyful trip home becomes a painful trip to the special care unit. In shock, the parents are not ready for this and the same question is asked over and over again “what will happen to our child?”
Sometimes as a doctor I can help treat a child, and it brings great joy and satisfaction, but often there is irreversible damage. For parents of children who will live with disability for the rest of their lives the prospect of caring for them can be daunting and heart-breaking. Will their child be accepted in their community? Will they be able to provide them with the care they need? As a doctor and a believer I began to brainstorm what else I could do for such families, there must be more ways I could help.
This is when the thought of setting up a ministry began. But I was a brand new believer, I had a family of my own, a job and no real idea of where or how to begin. So, I tried to numb those thoughts of a ministry, but God constantly reminded me about it through Bible verses, newspaper articles, and stories of other people. After several years of contemplation, gathering information, and talking to parents of children with special needs I finally decided to act. To begin with, we came up with the idea to offer meetings once or twice a month at the church for children with special needs and their parents. The main purpose of the meetings was to help such parents carry their burdens, to help them focus their attention to eternal values, and to show them the love of God.
Some of the main issues that parents of special needs children, and the children themselves, face is a lack of quality medical help, lack of education and behavioral therapy programs, a limited amount of specialized institutions for special needs children, lack of support from relatives and friends, poor choice of recreation and leisure activities, limited access to specialized equipment and transportation, lack of social interaction for kids and absence of friends. In view of this, we planned to work in two directions. The first direction is working with parents through fellowship, help and support. The second direction is working with the children through developmental activities, games, time together and friendship.
With the blessing of local church in Rivne, Ukraine, a small group of volunteers formed in order to accomplish the task. One part of the team organized activities for kids, while the other prepared the program for their parents. Everything went well with the parents, we had a few more teething problems with the children, they simply weren’t interested in the activities provided. However, our volunteers carried on coming up with more ideas to keep them enjoying themselves and it all started to pay off!
Once more kids started coming to the meetings, it became obvious that it was not enough to have volunteers without any special training. So we began inviting specialists to join us: speech therapist, psychologist, social workers and therapist. We found out about sensory rooms that help kids relax and unwind psychologically and began calculating how much the minimum amount of equipment would cost- even that was too expensive for us. After only six months of running the ministry a family from another city found out about what we were doing and around Christmas time sent one of our church members 5,000 Hryvnias. With additional money donated by members, we were able to purchase the equipment for a sensory room.
During the first year of the ministry we saw many more great blessings. Parents got actively involved in the fellowship, we had psychology training and creative master classes for them, as well as conversations about spiritual topics, the children themselves grew close to volunteers and specialists. We even had a three-day Summer camp at the end of the first year.
From inception to the present day, our ministry has grown from strength to strength with testimonials from volunteers, parents and children who find the work that we do invaluable. We try not to turn people away as God sends them to us. This creates a unique set of challenges, but with a strong foundation and hard work we can continue to improve on the support that the ministry provides.
I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building. (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)
A group of musicians from McLean Bible Church under the leadership of Ben Roundtree traveled with Liya Christian Ministry to Ukraine to participate in a benefit Christmas concert. During the concert, Dr. Zoriana Vuiv approached Lyuba Dovgalyuk and asked for a short meeting. Ben Roundtree was listening to Zoriana tell the story about the ministry and the Lord moved him to invite Zoriana to attend the Accessibility Summit at the McLean Bible Church in the spring.
Following this "chance"encounter many years ago, the Liya Access Ministry was born and continues to impact the lives of thousands in Ukraine and beyond.
And that is our story, or is it God's story told through us?
From one child who had difficulties breathing. To this father, a Pastor and his belief and faith in God. His belief in God that is bigger than the sickness. Father's love for this son. A gift of God's Word to a doctor. Doctor's curiosity and Jesus' redeeming grace. A musician's willingness to meet a stranger and countless other "coincidences", both big and small, all orchestrated by our heavenly Creator who says through His prophet Isaiah "I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done".