Oxana works on Freedom Challenge-supported projects in Moldova. She shares how her own difficult childhood has helped her understand the vulnerable girls and women she works with, and explains why she is so excited about taking part in a Freedom Challenge climb this year!

What projects are you involved with in Moldova?

I manage some of the social projects in the relief department and am also responsible for our Elderly Care projects and Day Centres for children. Besides these, I am involved in the ‘Freedom Challenge’ and I am praying about how I can do more in this area.

How do these projects make a difference to people’s lives?

Many of the people who receive help ask why Christians are doing this for them; they say they feel a relief from their hardships when we come and talk about God. What impacts them most is the fact that they are not forgotten. In an environment where the state does not care for them and they feel forgotten by people, they recognise that God is thinking about them.

What has motivated you to take part in a Freedom Challenge event?

Though the main activity is climbing a mountain, it is not really about the climb; it’s more a symbolic act of love for people affected by human trafficking. I will go as a representative of Moldova to share about our ministry among vulnerable girls, about their situations and what God is already doing here; praying that through all this, God will open more doors for this ministry.

Last year I had planned to take part in the Wyoming climb but I did not receive a visa, so I couldn’t participate. But I am happy that in September 2017 I will have the chance to participate in the Machu Picchu climb in Peru!

After the disappointment of not getting your visa, what motivated you to keep going?

As I left the embassy I was truly very discouraged, but God told me to be courageous, to take heart and not give up. I have seen the hearts, the tears and the pain of the girls who are at attend our summer camps. These girls need God’s love; they need these moments at the camps - that’s why I keep on. There were still many times of discouragement, but every time God reminded me of what He told me that first moment and so every time I decide anew to go on.

Why is this ministry for vulnerable girls so strongly on your heart?

What motivates me most is my own experience; I come from the same background these girls are growing up in, I have lived the same nightmares they live. I have suffered psychologically and emotionally. I understand these young people who are ashamed of their family, of their home situation, of the way they themselves are, and who do not feel they are people equal to others and made by God in a wonderful way. I myself lived with the thought that I am not good enough, and now I want to be an instrument to help them. God has worked wonderful changes in my own life and family, and I want to tell others that this is possible.

How has God made a difference to your life?

When God entered my life He changed me, but also made me a door through which His blessing extended to the rest of my family. At that time I had been living in Moldova’s capital city for several years, but God motivated me to return to my family and I lived with them for another 10 years. During this time everything changed. My brother turned to God. My father - who used to be an alcoholic - has not drunk alcohol at all for the past 11 years and has changed completely. He is more sensitive and no longer the harsh, crude, violent man he used to be.

There are still challenges; my parents do not know God yet, their relationship is not easy and my mother is still hurt by all she has gone through at my father’s hands. But there have been so many changes and I continue to pray for them. This is what I also want to tell the girls: Change is possible, and this change can start with them. It is not enough for them to just pray for their parents and wait for the parents to change, if they themselves are not changed – but if they allow God to change them, He can also bring change through them.

Find out more about our Machu Picchu climb here.