Answered Prayers for Stella & Illia

We’re so thankful for you, our giving and praying community, who walk alongside our youth in all circumstances. Because of you, orphanage graduates have support with their children’s health needs.

We begin to pray for Illia

Our Prayer Circle subscribers will remember that a few years ago, we began writing about Stella’s four-year-old, Illia, who was having seizures due to encephalitis. He suffered one setback after another. Plans for surgery in Kyiv were first thwarted by a big seizure that landed him in the local hospital, then a measles outbreak at the Kyiv hospital. 

Later, the operation was postponed because Illia had a fever. He couldn’t walk and could barely speak. In late 2019 he developed conjunctivitis, then pneumonia. 

Local doctors offer no hope

Stella was told surgery probably wouldn’t help anyway, and she should just “make him comfortable.” The pneumonia dragged on for months. 

One medical team said Stella should give her daughter to the orphanage and focus on caring for her son. Another said she should give her son to the orphanage. 

In this video, you can see Stella’s patient, sweet attention to her son, and her response to the doctors’ advice. Former Board member Ellen Jackson recorded most of this footage on a trip to Ukraine in 2019, with Oksana and Andrey Pankyeyev translating:

Stella and Illia persevere, and God provides

Stella was determined to keep both her children and take care of her son, with the help of our Stop the Cycle group, which she loves. She had grown up in orphanages from the age of 10 months, and at Stop the Cycle she reconnected with former classmates who share her childhood and parenting experiences.

After years of setbacks, it seemed like Illia was never going to get better. But Stella’s church friends weren’t ready to give up. 

Stella’s pastor, Misha G., found a doctor in Vinnitsya—two hours south of Zhytomyr—who prescribed a new therapeutic regimen, including new medications, massage, and a treatment similar to neurofeedback. Stella was ready to try something new for her little boy.

And praise God – the new therapy began to work! Illia is making real improvements. Previously confined to a wheelchair, he’s now beginning to walk. His seizures have decreased and he can speak more easily. He’s off medication, and only returns to Vinnitsya for massage treatment.

Our long-term investment

When staff members Yulia and Sasha went to visit recently, they saw all Illia’s improvement. But Yulia could also see he was tired, and walking was painful. New orthopedic supplies are expensive, so Yulia mentioned the need to another staff member, who tracked down some braces a relative no longer needed. With them, Illia can walk a little longer and with less pain. 

We’re so thankful for everyone who prayed for Illia! Now that his health is improving, Stella wants to enroll him in a special school. School would be wonderful for Illia, but getting a placement for him will be difficult. We appreciate your continued prayers about this. 

We’re so thankful to God for this corner turned in Illia’s young life, and for your prayers on his behalf!

If you’d like to be added to the Prayer Circle, just email Emily.

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Last Bell Ministries

Loving and restoring orphanage graduates toward life and community.


PO Box 30671
Indianapolis, IN 46230