A 12-Year-Old Orphan Leads a Simple Church
June 20, 2011

(Stock photo)

In an orphanage in Ukraine, a group of children gather together to meet with Jesus. A 12 year-old girl and her friends lead them. A couple weeks ago, Jesus healed one of them at their simple church gathering.

Earlier this year, I began preparing YWAM students in Kona to plant simple churches while on outreach.  With my good friend Dr. Pam we equipped several students who left for various nations. Many of them went on to win people to Jesus, teach them the basics of following Him, and form them into simple church communities who continue to follow Jesus together.

One of these teams left to travel through Ukraine and Turkey. One day, they came upon an orphanage. Imagine a building full of children with no parents. Some had lost their parents through death; others through abandonment. Jesus loves to go to places like that.  The team began loving on the kids and telling them about Jesus.

There were no churches or older Christians in the area. What could the team do to leave them in the best care possible? They planted a simple church right in the orphanage.

One 12-year-old girl soon started gathering her other orphan friends into this simple church. Two weeks ago, the following story came to us:

The orphans were gathered together, reading the words of Jesus. They came across a story about Jesus healing the sick and injured. One of the girls had a deep cut on her hand. She asked, “Could Jesus heal me?” The orphans closed their eyes, focusing on Jesus and asking Him to heal. When the girl opened her eyes, her cut had disappeared. It was completely healed, without so much as a lingering scab to show where she’d been injured.


“I will not leave you orphans…I will come to you.” (John 14:18)

Yeah. I’m seeing Jesus’ words in a new light.

At last report at least two churches had started as a result of this one team’s outreach.  While we pray for God to bring spiritual elders to communities like this, I’m rejoicing in the life transformation happening right where these children live.

The gospel is powerful. When it’s planted, it changes lives. Communities of Jesus followers can grow anywhere the gospel goes!

In an orphanage. In an urban ghetto. In a university dormitory. The principles are the same: Church can happen anywhere. God can use anyone to grow His church.

God can use you, no matter your background, ability, or experience. If you’ve got a heart for Jesus and are willing to try, you’re more capable than you know. 🙂

1 Comment

  1. Travis

    Erik, thanks for this. This is what I love about the Gospel and the church that reflects it’s simplicity. Having seen this happen a couple of other times, I always love hearing about other people’s experiences when churches are planted in the least like places. It helps (all of us, I think) to know that this kind of spontaneous, untrained reproduction is normal and that God can use it to bring the Gospel places its never been. Thanks for sharing.


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