KIEVE, Ukraine - As Ukraine continues to feel the bite of the credit crunch, sadly those most affected are the fatherless with more than 2 million 'at risk' children living in shelters and institutions with many are victims of abuse.
As much of eastern Europe transitions from institutional to family-based care for orphans, Christians are taking this opportunity to adopt or foster children, and raise them with godly values.
One couple that took this step is Sergey and Natalia Gedz.
The Gedz's have ten children living in their family-based orphanage. Two of the kids are the couple's biological children. Two are adopted and six of them are fostered.
Despite the obstacles, the Gedz's took on the challenge because they felt God was calling them to practically share Christ's love with the children.
"This is the will of God to take care of the orphans and he gave us this desire even though we didn't understand it," Sergey explains.
Antonio has cerebral palsy and Sergey and Natalia were moved with compassion to adopt him after regularly visiting him in hospital. While there, he was kept in a cage and the nurses would only wash him while wearing rubber gloves. However, since the Gedz's adopted the boy, they have seen a vast improvement in his physical and emotional development and he even has a dream to one day become a soccer player.
"The significant breakthrough happened during the first couples of months of him becoming part of our family," explained Natalia.
"It's wonderful to see how outgoing he's become not just with our family, but with those that come to visit us."
Despite the challenges and demands they face, the Gedz's could never have coped if it wasn't for the support of organizations like Eastern European Outreach who run a sponsorship programme for similar families.
Sergey said this kind of support has added so much to the quality of the children's lives.
"One of the ways we use the sponsorship we receive is for extra class for our children," Sergey said. "Teachers come to our home to provide arts and craft classes. You can see their work all over the walls in our house."
Sergey and Natalia said many other believers in Ukraine should take up this challenge to take in children as they have done so that the institutions can be emptied and all of Ukraine's orphans can be raised in Godly families.
"Officially in the country say there are currently 26,000 children, who have the documents prepared already for adoption," Sergey said. "In Ukraine, we have 28,000 churches. So if each church would take at least one child in Ukraine, then we would have no orphans."
The Gedz family is just one of many Christian families in Ukraine who are caring for orphans. The support they receive from organizations like Eastern European Outreach is vital so that churches across Eastern Europe can utilize this tremendous opportunity to bring Christ's love to the fatherless.