To Thrivers around the world,
I’ve been serving in Ukraine for the past 17 years. As I write that, I can’t believe it’s been so long! My husband, Ruslan, was born and raised Ukrainian, and I was born and raised in America.
Ruslan and I opened our hearts and our home to 10 children from orphanages in Ukraine from the day we were married. Being newlyweds with 10 children isn’t something I would recommend to anyone today! Adding 10 very damaged souls into the mix of our new marriage made for an atomic bomb of emotions and feelings. As you can imagine, this was quite the learning experience! My life consisted of learning how to cook for 12 people when I hadn’t ever really cooked for one, how to be a mom to kids who were still longing for their own biological mother, and how to be a loving and supportive wife to my husband.
I quickly discovered I was just treading water and praying to make it through each day. And in the years that followed, we went through many difficult and hurtful times in our ministry. By this last year, I felt completely drained and had nothing left to give. I was without an ounce of hope that what we were doing in Ukraine with our family, children, and ministry was bearing fruit.
Ten years ago, during one of my most difficult times on the field, a global worker–who is now one of my closest friends–talked to me about going to a Thrive retreat. Unfortunately, she moved to another country, and although we promised each other we’d get to a retreat it never worked out. But, finally, in April 2017 we attended the Thrive retreat in Dubrovnik, Croatia! I had no expectations of what God might do, aside from spending time with my friend, meeting new people, singing and speaking in English, and escaping the weariness I had been feeling for so long! But from the moment I arrived at the hotel in Dubrovnik, I felt in my spirit that God definitely had something significant planned for me there.
When my friend and I went to sign up for the self-care sessions, I walked right past the prayer and counseling signup sheets, thinking, I’m doing well. I’ve worked through all those years of pain and struggles. Although I was drained and tired, I felt like I was OK with God. But as quickly as I walked past those two tables, the Lord said to me, Turn around. So, I did, and I signed up for prayer and counseling sessions.
My counselor’s name was Ruth Ann. She was so sweet. When she asked me if there was anything specific I wanted to talk through, I said, “I guess I need to process what happened to me 12 years ago in my first year of marriage and in our ministry.”
I began to weep as the emotions of hurt and pain poured out of me. I began to share with her that after a year of having a children’s home in Ukraine, my stateside pastor and his wife decided we were not the ones God had called to the ministry with orphan children and that they wanted to “fire” us. We were hurt that our home church, friends, and family didn’t understand and that the mission organization chose not to hear our concerns. But the Lord spoke so clearly to us in the midst of this situation, saying, This is not your battle, it’s Mine. So for 12 years, we stayed silent and never forced communication. Since then, many relationships were lost, hurtful things were said, and our home church dissolved.
But in my counseling time at the Thrive retreat, Ruth Ann asked, “Have you ever prayed for God to restore relationship? Or to clean out that wound completely, even if you don’t get the result you want?” I hadn’t.
But in the days that followed the Lord began preparing me and my heart. I began asking the Lord for this and saying to Him, I’m willing. I left the retreat with such a peace, readiness, rejuvenation, and desire to see and taste the goodness and restoration of the Lord in my family, children, ministry, and life.
Shortly after the Thrive retreat, when He knew my heart had been prepared, the Lord arranged the opportunity to meet with a few board members from the mission organization that caused us hurt so long ago. During this meeting, we were blessed with apologies and recognition of the truth we had told in the past. God is so sweet, so kind, and so good. All those years of pain and hurt were washed away. Not only was the wound cleaned out (as Ruth Ann had inspired me to pray for) but it was healed. I arrived back in Ukraine with a weight lifted off my shoulders, a new song, and a new peace that I didn’t realize I even needed. I had a new hope for bringing Christ to Ukraine.
I can’t express the magnitude of thankfulness and gratefulness I feel toward Thrive for being a willing vessel of the Lord, for speaking truth into my life, and for loving me. I was blessed each day by the gifts, hugs, tastes of home, praise and worship, games, small groups, and ultimately, the love of Jesus. At times, it was so much more than my heart could take.
I’m thankful for all those who support Thrive. God uses YOU. My life is eternally changed and has forever been touched. So, thank you for loving us so much that we thrive and not just survive!
This holiday season, please consider a special gift to Thrive. Your generosity gives Global Women like Archana the opportunity to be cared for holistically so they can continue making Christ known across the globe.