Category Archives: special needs

Ukraine ministry rescues children dumped into poorly run orphanages

Nita Hanson God's Hidden TreasuresIn 1997, Nita Hanson was a prosperous employee in Thousand Oaks. Then she went on a short-term mission trip to the Ukraine.

It broke her heart and changed the direction of her life. She saw crib after crib of babies and children crammed together in dim rooms.

“That’s when my heart broke open. I knew then that I couldn’t leave,” she told the Simi Valley Acorn.

Gods Hidden TreasuresNita saw babies with special needs being dumped into ill-equipped and poorly staffed public orphanages. She witnessed handicapped people who had no real hope to ever receive mobility devices. If you were poor, there was little chance of finding help.

She decided to abandon the American Dream and pursue God’s dream. She was divorced and her two kids were grown. She was free from commitments, so she committed herself full time to the Lord’s work.

Today, Nita, 77, runs three orphanages in Bila Tserkva, Ukraine. Her ministry, God’s Hidden Treasures, has teamed up with Christian athlete superstar Tim Tebow to stage events to help some of the neediest people in Ukraine. She provides wheelchairs and walkers; people who otherwise would have been enclosed in four walls forever may now go out and breathe the fresh air and bask in the sunshine. Her group sponsors medical home visits and supplies food and basic needs.

Staffed by mostly Ukrainians, her people seek to create life-long relationships with orphans and other families.

Lori Hall in UkraineLori Hall of Ventura County recently joined Nita on a short-term mission group.

“I was thrilled to join the Impact Team as we set out to listen, learn and serve the ministry of God’s Hidden Treasure,” she says. “We sought to be humble servants as we went to other cultures, to share Jesus’ love by listening to the people, learning of their concerns and serving them in Jesus’ name.”

Lori spent 12 days assisting doctors and pastors with in-home health visits, delivering necessary wheelchair or mobility devices and helping with an annual citywide picnic evangelistic event for over 300 handicapped persons. Her group ran a Vacation Bible School for teenage boys with special needs living in an orphanage, a highly anticipated event. Not much is done for these special needs people, so it’s significant that this group makes a concentrated effort to focus on people sidelined by society.

“I was most impacted by the great love, tenderness and respect everyone showed to each and every individual,” Lori noted. “Jesus and His love was everywhere as people’s lives were blessed and changed forever, whether by receiving their first wheelchair or walker, by being touched with loving hands and hugs or finding new life in Jesus’ message of truth!”

In 15 years, God’s Hidden Treasures has delivered more than 6,000 mobility aids across Ukraine, her website says. When she provides a wheelchair as a gift, she tells the recipient it is “because God heard your prayers.”

They’ve come a long way from the original three wheelchairs brought on a Delta Flight to the Ukraine purchased from China in conjunction with Joni and Friends USA. Read more about God’s Hidden Treasures.

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Bitty & Beau’s: a coffee house that employs special needs people

cnn-hero-amy-wright-super-They starred on Broadway, but their most celebrated roles came later as parents of two Down Syndrome kids, for whom they opened a coffee house.

Amy and Ben Wright — deacons at the Wilmington, NC, First Baptist Church — launched Bitty & Beau’s Coffee specifically to employ people like their children, workers with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).

The Wrights have become a national sensation, winning CNN’s Heroes of the Year, after being featured on national news. But their trajectory towards canonization was marked by emotional turmoil and disgrace.

cnn-hero-amy-wright“There was just an enormous amount of grief — it was like I was grieving the son I thought I was going to have,” Amy told Baptist News about the turmoil of disappointment before Beau’s birth. “When we learned about Beau’s diagnosis I felt so sad and overwhelmed.

“We are so embarrassed about that now,” she added to the Wilmington Star News. “But if we had had more exposure to people with Down Syndrome back then maybe we would have felt differently.”

She came to love her Down Syndrome boy.

no-one-will-hire-kids-with-down-syndrome-so-parents-open-shop-that-employs-only-those-like-them“I feel that was the moment I was drawn closer to God,” Amy said.

It wasn’t long before Amy saw that her special needs son was not a burden but a blessing. She saw his effervescent joy, and she discovered his giftings. People with Down’s Syndrome are in no way inferior or less worthy of life than others — and God has given them special qualities that others don’t have.

Six years later, Jane Adeline — called “Bitty” — was born also with Down Syndrome. Having two children with Down Syndrome is extremely rare.

“When you become a parent of a child with special needs, you are instantly thrust into becoming an advocate,” Amy said in CNN. “Trying to make people see the beauty in their lives that we see. My children are not broken.”

Eventually, Amy and Ben decided they would do something to help other people with IDD, 70 percent of which are unemployed. In February of 2016, they opened a coffee shop, which they named after their kids, and hired a crew of 40 with IDD ranging from autism to cerebral palsy.

To see Bitty & Beau’s employees making java or ringing up customers, to see them singing and laughing with clients in their new 5,000-square-foot facility, brings a sensation of faith restored in humanity. It packs a joy-filled jolt that’s better than caffeine. Read more about Bitty & Beau’s Christian coffee house for special needs employees.