By Arune Singh
The world has seen horror and devastation in Ukraine, the kind of event that makes us all wonder how we can help.
But for Wendy Farrell this has been her mission for over seven years.
In 2015, Farrell founded the 1U Project as a way to answer a higher calling and work with ministries in Ukraine to help those in need. This is a project of passion for her family, including Wilson Logistics President Ryan Farrell (who spoke with us previously), who have committed their lives to by providing the resources – monetary and spiritual – needed to transform the lives of people worlds away.
The EKA Insights Interview series continues with special guest Wendy Farrell, who spoke to us about the 1U Project and how anyone reading this interview can help support their work in Ukraine.
EKA: The 1UProject was born out of your faith and desire to give back to the world. What has that journey been like over the past seven years?
Wendy Farrell: Our work in Ukraine initially dates back to 2013 when we adopted our oldest daughter, Alona, from Ukraine. It was during the adoption process that we fell in love with Ukraine, and its precious people, and knew that God was calling us to do more beyond our adoption.. At the time, we didn’t know if that meant adopting more children or supporting orphan care ministries in Ukraine, we just knew that when we left Ukraine with our new daughter, it would not be the last time we would be there. Fast forward to February of 2015, and the Lord stirred in my heart the desire to return to Ukraine to see what ministry opportunities there might be for us to be a part of. It was through my dear friend, and adoption coordinator, that we were connected to our children’s home director, Mykola. Mykola was in the process of building his children’s home when we met in early 2015.
During our initial meeting, I knew this was the man and ministry we were being called to support, and we have been close partners ever since.The past 7 years of ministry have been more challenging, fulfilling, painful, life giving, and faith growing than I ever could have imagined. My life is not anything like I would have envisioned, yet I cannot imagine it any other way. I’m so thankful for the opportunity to love and serve the children and adults that God has placed in our lives.
I imagine that working together on this as a family has taught you a lot about yourselves, each other and the world around you. What have been the biggest lessons you’ve learned?
Ryan and I have learned to divide and conquer! We make a great team. Between running a large logistics company (Ryan), a thriving ministry (me) and raising our 5 girls, we are stretched thin.
Yet God knew exactly what He was doing when He joined us together 17 years ago, and we are so thankful for each other and that we are able to do all God has called us to do together. I have learned that when God calls you to something, it does not mean that it will be easy, in fact it is typically the complete opposite. This allows God’s strength to be used in my weakness. I am not equipped to do all that God has called me to, but He equips me with His power and strength so that He gets all the glory. I have had to learn over and over again to surrender all control to God, and to listen to His voice. This life is not my own, and my purpose is to follow Him wherever He leads, whatever the cost. I have to trust God with all outcomes and know that more often than not, His plans will look nothing like what I would have chosen.
The situation in Ukraine is beyond imagination. How has that affected you and your work there?
Our hearts grieve for what is taking place in our beloved Ukraine. We pray that one day soon the war will end and our loved ones can return to some sense of normalcy. For now, our work has changed dramatically. Our children, along with 5 caregivers, were evacuated to Poland where they are safe. We are working closely with them to support them and help them during this time of transition. It is our hope to get them all to the US for the duration of the war, until it is safe to return home. Along with caring for our kids in Poland, work has not ended at our children’s home in Ukraine. Some of our caregivers and staff remained in Ukraine to help refugees from other parts of the country. Our home has been opened to refugees in transit to other countries. Our remaining staff is serving those in need in Ukraine.
In these times, people find a lot of comfort and support in faith. I think most people understand how both the practical and monetary resources help, but how have you seen your spiritual work transform lives?
Faith means everything to me. It is my source of hope and peace. I have seen the way God has provided for our group, as well as many other Ukrainian refugees in the last few weeks. Faith is what keeps us going in the darkest of times. God’s word says that He will bring beauty from ashes and that our mourning will turn to joy. These promises are what keep us going in the difficult moments. Pre-war, the evidence of God’s redeeming love was evident in the children we serve. Our kids come to us from very traumatic situations…severe neglect, abuse, and abandonment. It is hard to comprehend what happened to them. When our kids first arrive they are frightened and in a survival frame of mind. As time goes on…a month, a few months, a year you see the transformation that happens. They slowly start to smile instead of huddling in a corner in fear. They stop crying themselves to sleep at night. They greet you with joy and a big hug. This is only possible through being in a safe place where they feel secure, loved, and cared for. Our caregivers are all people of faith, and they show our children God’s love through their actions. It’s a truly beautiful thing to watch.
For anyone reading who wants to support the people of Ukraine and your work there, what should they do next?
To support Ukraine, I would ask for prayer first and foremost. Pray for this war to end soon! Pray for the millions of displaced Ukrainians and for those who have lost loved ones in this senseless war. We are taking tax deductible donations to help refugees. Donations can be made here: https://give.fivetwo.org/donate.1uproject.com/UkraineRelief