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The following program contains sensitive content, listener discretion is advised. Welcome to Lantern Rescue, a ministry program dedicated to bringing light into the darkness of human trafficking. It's time to light the way to freedom. This is Lantern Rescue. We tell the stories, we talk about rescues, and we empower you to do something about it.
William Wilberforce once said, Let it not be said I was silent when they needed me. This is Lantern Rescue. I'm so excited about this episode of Lantern Rescue as we are fresh off of another trip to the Ukraine. So we have an update coming from you from both Mark and a new member of the team, Bree.
So Mark, how exciting. Hey, Robbie, thanks so much. It's great to be on the show always. I always am so thankful for Truth Network and our listeners and those who faithfully listen to our podcast. And I appreciate those who share it because it's such an encouragement that we don't feel alone in this world and the change that we're trying to make happen. And the radio and our listeners are such a part of our family, too. There's so many that we interact with at a giving level, a prayer level, banquet level.
So if anybody's listening, you want to tap in that way. There's there's nothing else. There's there's nothing holding you back. Come join us, please.
I am. We just returned from Ukraine and part of our team and been there for quite a while doing a lot of different operations and lanes of effort. Today, we want to talk we really want to talk about not just extraction work or recovery work rescue work, but what maybe a lot of people have only heard a little bit about. And that's our ministry effort in that war zone, in that conflict area. So very quickly, we run an IDP center where there are counselors where IDP means internally displaced people who are running from the war, lost their homes.
We have counselors there and provide them prayer support, provide them food, provide them clothing, bedding, safe passageway information, just everything they need to hopefully make it another day. In that environment, we often identify, hey, there are children who need further therapy. And so we have an art therapy center. It's called the workshop of goodness. And a child can attend it three times a week, a little over an hour each time. And it's utilizing art and music to bring about, you know, comfort therapy and peace.
And we're going to talk about that here in a minute. And then we also have for other individuals that we identify or come to us through other ministry lane. Women's Center that we call the house of hope it's got 50 50 plus beds is for women, single women or women without husbands in this war who are sometimes become drug addicted or their children are suffering at an extreme level. And so we completely house them and give them therapy for many months. You know, we also have a chaplaincy program, the frontline.
Yes, we have a lot of training and command support that we give to the frontline soldiers. Today, though, I'm really excited because I've got Brie with us. Maybe it's first time on the show the first time. Okay, and Brie is our outreach and event coordinator. And you can kind of you want to describe your job as a whole and then tell them, you know what you do.
And so everybody knows who you are. And then we'll go from there, your experience and time in Ukraine. Yeah, Robbie. Yeah, so good to have you on. Yeah, we're excited to hear.
Thank you. Yeah, I'm really thankful for the opportunity to be on the podcast. I've been a listener for over two years as a volunteer and then as a part of the team too.
So it's really awesome to have the opportunity to speak as well. So as Mark said, my role within lantern is event coordination and outreach coordination. And so we have a lot of ways that we try to equip people here who want to be involved and volunteer to host their own events.
However, that looks within their community. And so I correspond with those people and do follow ups and try to get them all that they need so that they are able to invite their community into the heart of what lantern does. And then on the outreach side of things, I have the opportunity to just really help maintain the relationships with our staff and volunteers abroad and and just make sure that everyone's needs are met and people are taken care of and really on the spiritual development side as well. Kind of continually taking a request and just following up with people and making sure that everyone again has what they need and feels really brought into the family side, heart side of lantern. Right to keep people connected, you know, part of the community. That's a critical role.
Yeah, I'm thankful to be here. It is, you know, we want all of our foreign employees and workers and assets and from the counter trafficking side to the crisis and conflict, recovery and extraction. We want them all to know they're part of our family. And they have needs and breeze and so breeze really, she's really a missionary for for later, let's just be honest, and she loves on those people and praise for him and gets to know him and knows about what's happening in their life.
Because, you know, when you're working there, like in a law enforcement capacity, like you're working with law enforcement agents, you're training, you're doing tactical type operations, rescues, we're just dealing with guys, guys and guys. But, you know, we're not asking about how their wife and kids all the time, you know, we don't realize, hey, they've got a newborn and it's in the hospital, you know, but our organization keeps after that through through Brie, and through her ministry. And so we were so glad that she was able and willing to go to Ukraine to a place that where, you know, war is is happening and missiles are striking and artillery and mortars. And so for her to go, we're proud of her to do that. And I want her to share, she had to, you know, inspect, assess and be part of every part of our ministries there, starting with really the art therapy, the workshop of goodness. And so I kind of want to agree to share how she led that she led in one of those days with the children.
And then what were your feelings from all that? Yeah, so being an art therapy, first of all, was really awesome, because I've seen a lot of pictures and videos, of course, of the space. And so there's something really special about walking in and being able to see even familiar faces from, you know, pictures and stories that have been told. So it was incredible to see that in the midst of the situation that these kids really did have joy. And they're like, you know, a universal kid. And at the age of about six, they're shy when they first come in, they recognize new faces. But then it takes just a little bit of warming up, even with nonverbal communication. You know, smiling, playing little hand games, or being able to walk over and just, you know, talk through like, you know, numbers one through five in our different languages or colors and share those in our languages.
And that's always like a point of connection. And then as we teach them, they also feel like they have the opportunity to teach us and I would say teach me how to, you know, count in Ukrainian or something like that. And so there are amazing leaders and teachers there within the art therapy that had, they did an introduction, and we played a few games together.
But then I was able to prepare for that. I think it was able to prepare and go in with a craft in mind that is something that could involve the kids with a way for them to, you know, use their hands and create something we had in mind that we wanted to do a craft that gave them something that they could go home with and take home, you know, something in their hands and, you know, show their parents or whoever they lived with. So we are going to age this day with kids at about age six or seven. And so we actually made little individual puppets out of paper, just simple folding and glue, and we would make a little hand puppet that they could use their hands and just move the mouth, you know, and so we had each kid decorate it, we told them however they wanted to. So there was something about them being given the freedom to, to not just make something that looks like themselves or even look like a person, you know, they were they were like funny and they were just being silly kids, they created little monsters or animals or whatever they wanted to do. And, you know, shows different crazy colors, and we would ask them why they chose those colors or, you know, after that, that thing was created, then we kind of went around the room and would ask questions to one another and tell them to speak through the puppet, but creatively.
And so again, we didn't do just the like, what is your name? What was your parents names and things like that, but we would ask, what's your puppets name, and so it gave them a creative outlet to kind of see the world outside of themselves do in that way and be able to just, you know, use their imagination, interact in that way. Is there one of those children that stood out to you with their puppet and their their story?
So what they said, I'll tell you, I mean, they were all funny, you know, there was one little kid that drew just like the craziest sharpest teeth and then took every color in the, you know, color of markers and color goes all over and she said, this is, I'm naming him the monster who doesn't brush his teeth, which is just funny. But even outside of just that craft, I think that one of the kids that said to me a lot was a little boy that Mark got to meet as well. He was probably about seven. And whenever we all started playing games, he went over to the corner of the room and knew that we were watching, you know, but just started doing push up. This guy just started doing little push ups. And then, you know, he saw that he had our attention and he did one arm push up.
And I think you could just be like the tenacity in this kid from the beginning. And it really wasn't that he was trying to prove anything. He was just being a kid also.
But it was that he was pushing himself in that way. And I had the opportunity to whenever his grandma came to pick him up, I spoke with her and, you know, through language barrier, but told her that, you know, he's awesome. And he's cute. And he had a lot to say. And he spoke English pretty well. And she said, Yeah, every single evening, his mom does English lessons with him. And he's also in like, similar to like a Brazilian jiu-jitsu training as well. He takes classes throughout the week. And so, you know, that just that was something that I hold on to story that stuck out to me was that even in the midst of not knowing exactly what next week or next month or next year will look like in these kids live.
This particular kid had opportunity, you know, through his family, to be able to still take lessons and learn new things and push himself and, you know, try to get better at things a lot of times, which just represents hope, you know. Yeah. So I'm really curious, Bree, for someone who, you know, this is probably the first time in your life you've ever been in a war zone, right?
For sure. It is. Yes.
I've done some traveling in the United States, but not. So I'm trying to just imagine in my mind, you know, what it would be like to be with all these small children with the possibility that any second a missile could come flying in, you know, what was that experience like for you? You were in in one of the sessions when the air defense alarms went off. Exactly. And, you know, you have to exit the building. Yeah, exactly.
So there was only that was one of very few times that one of the air defense sirens went off while I was in Ukraine. But we were there in the art therapy session. And to be honest with you, Robbie, it was just like a drill that seemed like everyone knew exactly what to do. I mean, people didn't even just drop everything. They just kind of picked up what they had and thought, I'm going to walk outside with this and, you know, more than likely walk back inside with it. Like I, you know, I asked the teachers later and they said that often they'll just move whatever craft it is, whatever they have their hands to, to the shelter and continue it to give some sort of consistency and stability to those kids. You know, like we're all going to stand in a line and we're all going to walk outside and trying to keep as calm as possible. And and it was I mean, it was pretty calm, but but us having the foreknowledge of what is actually going on, you do it does kind of break your heart to look at these kids and think that, you know, I'm going to be going home in 10 days. But this is the reality.
Never really knowing what the ending of this will be. Yeah. And they've not had school for. Right. We have this this war has followed COVID. So these kids have missed school for two years and now they're in a war for a year and they still haven't had normal school or normal interaction with their classmates.
They're online. I remember one time there I was in the Lego section with one little boy and I'll never forget he was building a building. And on top of it, he put something and I got I was trying to ask him what it was and I realized it was an air defense system. Like, here's a seven year old boy building a building with Legos.
And what he put on top of it was an air defense system. And I thought, man, that says a lot about what his world growing up is and what it's like, you know, and how much comfort, peace and security my children have. You know, I returned just a couple of days ago, two days ago, and I attended one of my two of my children's soccer game last night. And I thought, man, look at this peaceful, beautiful place.
Their only concern is to kick a ball, you know, and not where am I going to go? Which bomb shelter am I going to? You know, where's the air raid happening? What missiles are coming and how are we shooting them down? You know, so it's a different world for sure. I hate we got to go to a break, but, you know, we will be right back with a great deal more on this update from the Ukraine with a lot of really needed information for us to be praying about.
We'll be right back. As a special operation, law enforcement and intelligence personnel to partner with host nations and assist them in creating specialized units to combat ongoing security problems such as genocide, terrorism and human trafficking. As a nonprofit charity, they offer services free of charge to their host nations. Human trafficking has grown into the second largest criminal activity in the world, reaching an estimated $150 billion in annual activity. Lantern Rescue has developed rapidly to combat trafficking. Lantern operates through a trained international network in order to rescue women and children from sex and labor slavery and facilitates holistic aftercare services. They're gearing up for operations right now, and you can go to lanternrescue.org to see how you can support them financially. Welcome back to Lantern Rescue with today's update on the Ukraine with Mark and Bree. And, you know, wow, it's just hard for me to wrap my head around all this, Mark. But this is several trips you've had over there, and it's just it's a completely different mindset, isn't it?
It is. I spent a lot of time in Ukraine and with the Ukrainian people. And, you know, we have a heart to help people in the world. And so we can't neglect this.
And so Lantern is heavily involved with this crisis and conflict effort in Ukraine. And we have incredible ministry partners, incredible employees. I mean, they make it happen, you know, and we love all of it. I mean, the ministry part is so exciting to see.
It's tragic that we have to have it. But it's gospel centered, it's therapy centered, it's rescue operations in a different way. I love one of the things like our family day, you know, that our church partner there hosts a family day for IDPs, you know, twice a month. Yeah, they come and be part of a carnival type atmosphere, which is really cool. There's a retreat that happens once a quarter that our employees kind of host. And it's for all the leaders in the area and all the pastor leaders and things. And those are really interesting. I've been in those where there's literally bombs are landing and they're using their cell phones as lights because there's no power.
And the way that they continue to sing to Jesus. Another important part is the House of Hope Women's Center. And I want to agree to share about her experience there as well. So, yeah.
Yeah. So that was another day that during the trip that really stands out in my mind because we just got hours on end with the women and their children. Here at the House of Hope. And so whenever we got there, first of all, you know, all the women and children are coming out of their rooms and they know, of course, to expect that we're coming. And a few had recognized Mark. And so we said our hot our hellos and told everyone that we were going to be doing a craft together. So I know many of you know who Anya is.
She's one of our main people that operate what we do in Ukraine. And so she was there with us as well. And she had a great idea that we could do a craft again, something that the people could hold onto that they could have as a keepsake. And so we made like plaster hands so that the mothers would hold their children's hands in a position. And then we made a mold like a rubber mold and then filled it with plaster so that it solidified. And then we took it all apart.
And that was something that they could uncover, you know, their hands together and just have it as a keepsake for that age of their kids, for their little hands, you know, holding their moms. And that was fun. It was really chaotic, too, because we're reading the instructions in Ukrainian and we're all running all over the place. There was one mom that had a six month old and she had him hold his hands in the in the bucket of rubber mold for six minutes straight.
And he cried the whole time. But the project turned out really well for them, too. That was just a fun time to be together. And then we took a few minutes to speak to them and we did just little like church songs and dances with the kids in English. And then they taught us a few of theirs as well.
So we just spent that kind of fun playtime together. And then, Robbie, as we were all in the room, Mark started to share with the women, the adults in the room, just to remind them that there are people that are praying for them here in the States, you know, that are affiliated with Lantern and that have heard their stories. And I knew that that really touched them. And then I personally felt like the Lord was saying that there was more invitation for personal time with the women. You know, I saw them all like half of them had a baby on their hip or, you know, a toddler in their hand or whatever it was with all the chaos of running around. And then I also noticed that there were a lot of adults in the room.
And so I thought we could do this in a way that we could kind of single out the moms. And so I grabbed Anya and asked if she could ask everyone else to watch the kids. And so, yeah, Mark and his daughter and a couple of the other pastors just hung out with the kids for a couple of hours.
And I know they ran outside and played games and all kinds of things. And then Anya and myself took all of the mothers into a separate room where there were a few couches and it was quiet. And I took the time to reiterate what Mark had said about how they were being prayed for. You know, I told them that that walking into the room and seeing them and meeting them was really moving for me because I've seen photos of them. You know, they've had they've shared their stories in ways that allowed us to pray for them specifically here in office. And so knowing just little details about their life, you know, I thank them for sharing those stories as it's hard to summarize, you know, where you're coming from and where you've been in life. But just told them that they're absolutely being prayed for, that they're supported and loved and that we believe that they will make it out of the situation that they're in. Again, a lot of them being recovering addicts and just in bad situations. So is there one of those stories that maybe you could share with our listeners that they could be praying for? Absolutely.
Yeah, I would love to. So I want to say that that I was so moved by and really inspired by how authentic each one of these women were because I then just opened up and said, if anyone wants prayer for something specific, please say so. And then every one of them but one out of about 12 or 15 shared their particular story and after prayer specifically and really didn't hold back.
You know, they shared where what they were going through and how many prayer and I was really moved by that. So there's one woman in particular. I'm going to call her Olivia. And she I actually remembered seeing in a photo that her daughter is older than the rest of them. You know, a lot of them have kids that are like school age and her daughter still school age, but she's she's 14. And so Olivia shared with me that she was just kind of in a place of constant heartache because she doesn't have her daughter right now. Her daughter is living with someone else while Olivia is in recovery and while she's working through something. And, you know, she just said that her mother's heart is broken, not being able to be with her daughter every day.
And and then the, you know, the pain of knowing that if things were different, if maybe this decision weren't made or, you know, things didn't work out as they did, that she could be with her daughter. And because her daughter has the capacity to understand Olivia's life and what the circumstances that have led them to where they are now. But absolutely said that they have a good relationship and that her daughter's rooting for her has hope for her and that they would be brought back together on the prayer side of things, though.
Olivia specifically just said that she she wants she's like asking for a prayer for freedom of this guilt and shame that she's feeling for her situation with her daughter. And because she told a tragic story about how her mom passed away. Olivia's mom had passed away and it was a situation in which Olivia felt like she neglected her because Olivia was at a point where she was not thinking right.
She had been using drugs and she rather than being there for her mom, her mom left the house and went out somewhere and then never ended up coming back because she ended up passing away while gone. And Olivia just has a really hard time coming to terms with that, knowing things could have been different. And so she just said that she's pretty much living in turmoil every day, that her heart is heavy constantly. And she asked for prayer for that. And so I was able to just sit closely with her and hold her hands and listen to her story. And, you know, we cried together. And I told her, what I hear from you is that you want freedom from this. You know, I was able to ask her, is this something that you want to put in the past?
Like, do you believe that God's grace is enough to actually cover that or that he draws lines when he says he has grace for us? You know, and so that was something that that she was able to come in agreement with, you know, through so many tears. Say, yes, I think I do actually want to break up with the guilt and shame that that is causing this like constant pain in my life. And, you know, I looked around the room and said, you know, you have these incredible women here, too. And I know they love you and they want to come alongside of you and remind you that every day is new. You know, you guys can remind one another of that.
There's not really any sense in holding on to the past of things that you can't change, especially if it's just going to eat you up in the way that it has. And so as far as even just praying for her to the listeners, I would pray that that she'd be able to be reunited with her daughter because she's in a home of people who, regardless of their circumstance, one thing that they do have is their kids with them, you know, sitting in their lap and sleeping in their beds. And she knows that her daughter is not there with her.
And so, of course, her mother's heart is hurting in that way. And then just prayer for continued freedom. Her story is similar to a number of the other ones that are just struggling with guilt and shame and struggling to believe in grace and hope, you know, but in a place where they're asking that the Holy Spirit would give them the strength to hope. And what a wonderful thing to pray for, you know, almost, you know, Jesus's blood is the only thing that's going to cleanse, you know, those things. And I can't even imagine, you know, all the guilt and shame that you would feel in that situation, trying to take care of your own heart, trying to take care of everybody else, and then all these, you know, it's just wow. What an opportunity.
I'm so grateful that you shared those with us because I know that a lot of us will be blessed to be able to pray for Olivia and others that are in a similar situation. That is just amazing. So, Mark, did you – Hey, Robby. Yeah. Yeah, the House of Hope is what we've called it.
You know, we started in it about a year ago at the beginning of the war. And we just always called it the Women's Center, right? And what we had was a beautiful conference center with rooms donated to us. And this is what – it's outside of – it's in central Ukraine, so it's – but it's out in the country.
It's a beautiful area, countryside. And as time has developed, we said, you know, are we going to do this for real? Like, are we really in this?
And we decided we would be. And so we call it the House of Hope. It's got 51 beds. We can currently kind of handle – we handle about 15 families – 15 to 20 families, kind of varies.
They're in a full program. We have a – you know, they can attend not just the counseling and therapy we have there, but they also – they or their children can attend, you know, psychologists and counseling and requirements that we can even meet for social services if they're missing their child to have authority to take their children again. So there's a lot going on in that. It takes about $400 per family per month.
And so, you know, we have roughly 20, and it's about $400 per wife and child or children per a month time. And it's a great place. And it is a great place of hope. So if there's a listener who would like to help with that, we've not really put it out there, honestly. We're just trusting in God for the money every month. If there's somebody who would like to help, you know, sponsor a family per month, a woman and her children, they definitely can do that. They can contact us at lanternrescue.org. We can – they can even adopt a family. We can share their, you know, pictures and information about the family, what the struggle is, and what the therapy timeline is for that.
You know, that family. So I just want to put that out there. We're just kind of still developing that messaging, but I'm just telling you what it is, okay? Oh, that's just amazing.
And I hate we're out of time, but was there a final thought – and clearly that's a great final thought, but – that you wanted to add, Mark? Yeah, there's no atheist in foxholes. And Ukraine is a foxhole, the whole nation. And people are coming to Jesus through not just our ministries. They're coming to – they're coming to Jesus through radio. They're coming to Jesus through music. They're coming through church work there. They're coming through seminaries that are back in Lviv. There is a lot of people in Ukraine who are coming to Jesus.
And I know that the country is, like, 80 percent Christian, Orthodox Christian, but, you know, we know what that means. And so I'm talking about people who are really having a relationship with Christ, and it's happening all over that, those hillsides. It's happening in the foxholes up front. It's happening in the cities.
It's happening everywhere. And we are just thrilled that God is letting lanterns be a part of that. And that happens because of donors and the graciousness of our partners. And so keep us in prayer, and we want to keep changing lives. Yeah, I know that prayer makes such a difference. Thank you so much for listening today. And thank you Mark, and thank you Brie. What an update. God bless.
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