A diverse group of individuals from the Grace Lutheran Church are heading to the Ukraine this summer on a mission trip.
“There is a heritage within the congregation of faith. Some of our long-term members can trace their roots back to the Ukraine. There is a sense of where we came from and what if we were to return and give something back,” said Boehm. “It is an effort to recognize that in part this is where our faith comes from, because people came to Canada and brought their faith with them.”
Lynn Hemming is heading out on the trip.
"I have been feeling it for a long time. I like to travel and I would like to do something towards a humanitarian effort,” she said.
The Ukraine is finding its way back to the faith. As Hemming explains, under the cloak of the Soviet Union, practicing religion was outlawed and church leaders were jailed or even executed. After 70 years, and a number of generations, people are finding religion again.
“They have very vibrant congregations, but they are young people who have decided they want something more than materialism now that there is more religious freedom,” she said, adding that even today this freedom is threatened by political movements.
The group encompasses individuals from ages 15,up to retirement age, and from all walks of life
“I was pleased there is such an interest,” said Hemming. “There is a wide range of ages, and I think it is an interesting mix of people, we all have different skills to offer,” she said.
The group will visit Odessa and Dnepropetrovsk, the second and third largest cities in the country, respectively, as well as some smaller communities. For one week of the trip, they will be volunteering at a Christian camp with about 200 young people. They will also be visiting orphanages, participating in evangelical events and worship services.
“We want to distribute Bibles wherever we go,” she said.
In fact, she explains because of the history of the country, many have never owned a Bible. They want to fundraise to provide at least 100 Bibles. They are able to purchase Bibles to distribute in the Ukraine for $10 each, less expensive than what they could purchase in Canada.
“We hope to give Bibles to the young people at the camp, the older orphans we meet and to the churches we visit for ongoing outreach,” she said.
Each participant is paying their airfare to the Ukraine, but they would also like to raise funds to cover their expenses while they are overseas. Some of the fundraising endeavours they are taking on include a concert, bottle drives and a garage sale.
Those who wish to donate to this trip can contact Boehm at 403-823-3192 or Hemming at 403-823-9315.
The group will be departing August 3, and returning August 21.