Each day after school, children and youth in Zaporozhe, Ukraine, head over to the local Nazarene church to share a warm meal. Since the program began in October 2008, approximately 18 participants have begun to regularly join these meals. These mealtimes are promoted through the youth group, so those who attend are usually between 11 and 17 years old.
A partnership between the Church of the Nazarene in Zaporozhe and the Church of the Nazarene in Susanville, California, has enabled this consistent dinner to take place. During the mealtimes, participants have also been memorizing various verses and passages from the Bible. There are also computers available for the students to do homework or practice English.
"The meal is to provide much-needed nourishment for these young people, and memorizing Scripture is a way of saying 'thank you' to God for making this happen," said Cliff Wright, missionary to Ukraine. The church hopes that, through the partnership, meals will continue to provide a source of fellowship for everyone involved; that in the breaking of bread and in their joint efforts to memorize Scripture, these young people will find physical and spiritual nourishment.
"Most of these kids are from very poor and broken families," said Wright. "Not only are they experiencing a good hot meal, but they are seeing God's love in action. They are at the church, instead of out on the streets [each evening]. Ultimately, this church is a place where they can come and be loved." --Eurasia Communications