More Than a Party: How to Pray for LB Over the Holidays
The holidays are an especially busy time for an organization like Last Bell, serving people without families. We try to make New Year’s and Christmas as special as we can!
Our celebrations are not just about “having fun.” These many hours of shared time are important for our young people’s deep healing and well-being.
For some, the holidays trigger memories of traumatic days and weeks in childhood. Holidays can be a volatile time for homes already in upheaval – parents drink more heavily, fight, and disappear; children wait anxiously on high alert, watching for danger. Plus, some of our youth were very cold in winter when they were little, and even spent time living on the street.
Last Bell youth and volunteer on a winter holiday outing
All our young people spent years in an orphanage, where birthdays and holidays were institutional affairs. A few visited relatives, but most were lost amid a sea of other children and indifferent caregivers. Their culture and even their families were sending the message, “You are not special, you are not loved.”
Fast-forward to time spent in Zhytomyr’s trade schools, where Last Bell’s teens live and study alongside students from “whole” families who go home for school break – leaving orphan students alone in their empty, echoing dorms.
Two young ladies on a Last Bell group outing
Imagine how life-changing this time can be when our young men and women are embraced by a warm, loving community and surrounded by adults who keep paying attention and learning more about them. Just like a family gathering, at times everyone may be together, eating, laughing, or playing games – but at other times, leaders may sit down for quiet, cozy, one-to-one conversations, sending the message orphanage graduates desperately need to hear: “You ARE special, you ARE loved.”
Staff member Lena Voznyuk with one of our youth from the Educational Outreach program
Here’s how you can be in prayer for us as we anticipate New Year’s and Christmas. In Ukraine, Christmas is celebrated January 7th:
Pray for safety for all our young people. These are big drinking holidays, especially New Year’s, and we want our kids to come take part in the activities we offer.
Pray for discernment as the staff prepares games, activities, movies, messages, and everything else needed to make these two holiday celebrations appealing and meaningful.
Pray those on the outskirts of our community would attend our holiday gatherings and make real connections. Pray for orphanage graduates to show up whom we’ve not met yet.
Pray for close, meaningful conversations with many of our youth. Pray that our staff and youth would forge strong, trusting relationships that unfold in the new year!
Pray for our Stop the Cycle families, that they would be forming their own intimate, loving family traditions, and pray our staff would know how to best reach out to each of these families and other older, more independent orphanage graduates.
Pray that in all our holiday activities, our young people would truly understand God’s greatest gift to us – His son Jesus. Pray Jesus’ love would be evident in all we say and do.
Young men spending time together at a Last Bell activity
Thank you for lifting up everyone here at Last Bell – our board, administration, staff, and especially our orphanage graduates! Because of your prayers and support, our young people know they are truly loved.
Our hardworking staff!