Click on this link to read our ideas on our doctrinal statement.
What is Shepherd's Purse? Our registered non-profit is raising awareness and supplies for the street kids in Ukraine, Russia, India, and other countries. We see ourselves as an advocate for the cause of the kids. Our goal right now is to get the word out, bring the supplies and funds in, and transport all this plus teams to the ministries in need.
We also seem to be "facilitators". Many individuals or groups have heard the kids story through us. Some seem to really open their hearts and travel with us or with other teams. There have been many who came back and began supporting particular ministries outside of Shepherd's Purse. After all, part of our goal is to build our ministry so we can build our support.
Where did your name originate? When we began I was remembering how two workers in Ukraine found a nine-year old boy frozen in a doorway. He had tried to sleep there the night before and died. The shocking thing was that people were walking like he wasn't there. It was pretty common to see kids sleeping on sidewalks. This put me in mind of weeds growing through the cracks of city sidewalks and how peopole don't notice them as they walk by. Yet, the weeds survive somehow.
I punched in a google search for weed growing through sidewalk. The first thing that came up was one called, "Shepherd's Purse". I had never heard of it or seen it. It was described as a noxious plant with herbal values. It has cross shaped flowers and tiny heart shaped seed pods filled with hundreds of seeds. The reason for its name is because, upside down, the heart pods look like medieval purses the Shepherd's carried.
I then found out the plant has also been called, "Mother's Heart", and, "Pick pocket". That clinched it. Our name was chosen.
Later that year I told friends to watch for this plant because I wanted to get pictures. One day our friend Andrey was visiting from Ukraine and I told him I wanted to mow our tiny lawn. It would only take a few minutes. In the process I noticed something growning next to our one tree out front. I bent over and was shocked to see tiny cross shaped flowers and perfect little hearts. All excited, I ran in and showed Andrey. I said, "Here, take this back to Kherson as a sign of good things to come." He laughed and informed me that this stuff grows all over Kherson.
The next spring trip we took we saw what he meant. Everywhere we walked there were large clusters of lush white Shepherd's Purse in bloom. We took it as a good sign.
Now, the last two years, there is Shepherd's Purse growing up through the hard cracks of my driveway. We drive over it bu never mow it. It is very hardy but short lived. It usually does not make it through the summer. We pray that this is not fulfilled in the lives of the kids.
What is the problem with the street kids? In 1991, with the breakup of the former Soviet Union, thousands of kids are living in the streets. Many have parents and homes but with the rise of unemployment and alcoholism, many kids are abused or abandoned. Some still live in cramped apartments with little or no food. Children beg, scam and prostitute for food or alcohol for parents. When conditions deteriorate in the family, kids move to the streets permanently. Many end up in orphanages which are not much better.
Where do the kids live? Wherever they can find shelter. In the summer they will sleep on rooftops or in abandoned buildings. In the winter many sleep in the city sewers. Most children live at home with one parent. Yet, living conditions are many times very bad with parents unemployed and sinking in alcoholism. The results are abuse, leading children to the streets. Many schools are now full of one parent children at risk of ending up on the streets. Many children are given up to orphanages because parents have died, dissapeared or cannot support their children. Kids run away from these poor living conditions. Older kids are graduated from orphanages at 16 with no life skills and many end up in prison or on the streets again.
What are the sewers like? They are not like our American sewers. Their sewers are like small concrete rooms with pipes for sewage and hot water to heat the city. The hot water pipes keep the kids warm at night. The sewers are rat infested and smell putrid. Humidity and darkness engulf small groups of kids seeking refuge here.
What is the purpose of Shepherd's Purse? Our goal is to raise awareness by speaking in colleges, churches and civic groups. We also publish a monthly newsletters, maintain a website and Facebook, take teams to the sites and ship supplies. Our partners in country work with the kids on a continual basis. We support them with prayers, supplies, finances, and teams. We are all a team to help the forgotten children.
What are your long term plans? Currently, there are foster programs in various parts of Ukraine that we partner with. Overall, the problem is enormous. We are watching and praying that God will "accelerate" our help for the kids. We are praying that our boundaries will be expanded and we will have enough to be generous on all occasions. We are also praying for favor with the government leaders of Ukraine and Russia.
How can I help? The needs are so great. However you can do several things:
2-Take a trip with us
3-Subscribe to our newsletter(to watch for needs)
4-Check our volunteer page
5-Support our effort
How long have you existed? In the spring of 2003 I saw a video of Nastya during a mission report from Master Provisions after my son's trip to Ukraine. It broke my heart. I began emailing ministries in Kherson to find out about her and that is when I discoved there were literally millions of these kids at that time.
In January of 2004 I made my first trip to Russia to teach in a pastoral training school and it was on Christmas day (January 7th) that I first visited a day center for street kids. When I returned from that trip in January I announced (surprising even myself), that I was starting Shepherd's Purse.
We were adopted into "The Father's Heart" ministry that spring and they fostered our beginning months of growth.
In the fall of 2004 we actually formed our own independant non-profit status. Since that time we have shipped many supplies, built relationship with numerous non-profits in-country, and taken eight trips with teams to see the problem first hand.
Are you working mainly with street kids? No. Actually, if you visit the country you may have a hard time finding them. They hide from abusive parents, authorities and filter into the crowds of people. The centers we work with help what kids come in but we are shifting our focus more towards foster programs, orphanages and orphan transition homes for graduates.