MOPS: A Model for Strong Community (Part II)

In our last blog, we introduced a new community group: the first Ukrainian chapter of MOPS. After two years of planning, our Zhytomyr group is finally in full swing, connecting orphan moms to Christian community!

MOPS does offer a curriculum, but only in English. So staff member Oksana Pankyeyeva has created her own curriculum based on years of training and experience. What’s most important about MOPS, Oksana says, isn’t the curriculum but the model, the vision. We believe the MOPS model helps our Last Bell moms form close, loving connections with Christian families in our community. This brings healing to the families of orphan moms, but it also brings healing and restoration to communities where orphans have been stigmatized, and where their unique voices and gifts have long been absent.

A recent evening with MOPS

Because MOPS meetings are held in churches, MOPS’ model helps moms feel familiar with church and safe in church facilities. Hospitality is key. As attendees arrive, music plays, and tea and sandwiches are served. The atmosphere is friendly and loving, with lots of smiles. The leadership team makes sure everyone feels accepted.

Younger children with volunteer babysitters

Children are split into separate groups, giving moms some time together. Younger ones play with babysitters; older kids have a Bible lesson and do crafts.

Older children with their finished crafts

An important part of the MOPS model is to start low-pressure, with games to get to know each other and congratulations offered to any new moms.

Material from one of the lessons

Then the leadership team shares a topic for 15-20 minutes, followed by personal discussion at the individual tables. This is a great time for moms to talk about their families and kids, and find out they’re not alone in their frustrations (or joys).

Comfortable conversations about shared experiences

Moms also get to make crafts, so they take home something beautiful they’ve made with their own hands. At the end of the meeting they’re invited to church.

Already, our MOPS meetings are bringing about healing!

One orphanage graduate, whom we’ll call Natasha, is one of our younger moms in Stop the Cycle. Her husband used to physically abuse her; she’s had a very difficult life. Her five-year-old son looks just like her husband, and she used to try to make him feel bad. She imagined that in punishing him, she could punish his father.

After attending MOPS for a while, she told us she’d started to tell her son “I love you.”

One of our volunteers went to visit Natasha recently and saw all her son’s crafts from MOPS very carefully arranged on the walls. Our volunteer was really touched. Natasha is rough around the edges, but she’s softening up through these new, loving connections with other moms!