Category Archives: Volunteer Stories

You were Made for a Mission

Your Were Made for a Mission
Jayne C. Crisp

A few years ago, when my church—Reidland Baptist Church of Paducah, Kentucky—devoted several weeks of study to The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren’s bestseller, my faith was renewed and my life transformed by this spiritual journey.   Not only was I reminded that “it’s not about me,” but I became convinced that “it is impossible to do everything people want you to do.  You have just enough time to do God’s will” (Warren, 31) And, His Will includes specific purposes, one of which is becoming a “world-class Christian.”  To miss His Will means becoming a “worldly Christian.”  (Warren, 297)  World-class Christians find their mission and their God-given passion.   This study sparked within me a desire to travel abroad and share His Love.  So, in February of 2007, when I was introduced to Teresa Fillmon and the ministry of His Kids, Too!,  I knew that very day that God was speaking to me about my mission and the passion He has given me; and I volunteered to become part of the ministry team to travel in October 2007 to Ukraine.
Upon our arrival in Dzerzhinsk on Sunday, October 7, we visited the Internot (orphanage for older children) and shared snacks and songs, but more importantly, God’s Word and His Love.  The children present were hungry—not only for the treats we brought them, but also for the warmth of human contact.  Church at Teresa’s Dzerzhinsk home followed in the afternoon, and American and Ukrainian hearts became as one as we worshipped together and then fellowshipped over dinner.  Pastor Victor gave team members an opportunity to introduce themselves and tell why they came to Ukraine.  I acknowledged to that small congregation (as well as to myself) that I didn’t know for certain what God had for me to do, but that I was available and willing.  What a joy it was to see Him take me at my word!  My role emerged over the next 15 days—from sorting clothes for the children at the Internot, holding and playing with babies and toddlers at hospitals and orphanages to developing presentations for team members and serving as projectionist.  Every day was a new adventure, and the blessings flowed!




This endeavor was not without tough times, though.  As you read in the November newsletter, one of our team members experienced health problems that made it necessary for three of the team to return to the U. S. a week earlier than planned.  On Tuesday of the second week, Sundy Goodnight and I were distributing clothes and shoes to orphans at the Internot in Dzerzhinsk.  Many of you who are reading this newsletter had sent clothing for these children whose faces and sizes are unknown to you as they were to us.  When we realized that we were unable to outfit several children, we were broken heartened; it seemed so unfair for the children who have so little to go away empty handed.  However, the youngsters did not complain, cry, or even hint that they thought they had been slighted.  Nonetheless, Sundy and I embarked on a shopping trip to the Metro Market and to the open-air Central Market to buy clothes, toboggans, and shoes.  We, also, returned to the “Summer Kitchen” storage area to find specific items of clothing.  Two days later, we returned and, with the help of the Internot staff, were able to locate most of those who had not received clothing.  I can still see the smiles that came to their faces.  One of the teenage boys who attend Bible class at the Internot impressed me greatly; he kept bringing younger boys to us to get clothing; not once did he ask for anything for himself.  He deserves credit, also, for setting a good example for the younger children by being attentive during Bible class.  We feel certain that he has been influenced greatly by male role models like Walter Steely and Edward Volkov.


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The success of the October Mission Trip came because of the sovereignty of our God and Creator, the prayers of hundreds of Christians across the nation who petitioned daily, and the generous monetary and in-kind contributions that were made.

Praise God!!  My life will never be the same!  To God be the glory for the great things He has done, but much remains to be done.  Please note in other parts of this newsletter the specific immediate needs of His Kids, Too! I challenge you to let God reveal His purpose for you in this ministry and wherein your passion lies.  I am confident that He has called you to be a world-class Christian and that you were made for a mission!


Sundy Goodnight

Love– The Missing Ingredient
By Sundy Goodnight

 In October I had the privilege of joining His Kids Too! for sixteen days of life-changing ministry. From the moment the team touched Ukrainian soil we were on the go, working hard to help the hurting and needy orphans. Though we distributed many boxes of clothing, toys, diapers, bananas etc., we simply didn’t have enough to go around. The need is staggering, the resources few and the children many. We took aid into facilities with no indoor plumbing, limited food, no meat, no playground equipment or toys. I saw handicapped children lying in their own excrement, their bones protruding. I experienced the eeriness of a roomful of silent, diaperless babies, babies who no longer cry because it does them no good—there aren’t enough workers to hold and love them.
Yes, the physical needs are great, and His Kids Too! did all we could to meet those needs. But after visiting 14 orphanages, teen prostitutes, HIV infected babies, starving and sick children, I was profoundly struck by one thing that each child craved above all. That thing was love.
The first day I met Marina, her shorn hair, tiny frame and dirty, three-sizes-too-big sweatshirt caught my attention. She sat near me in our Sunday afternoon Bible class, her hungry eyes locked on me seeking my attention. I motioned for her to come and sit next to me. She quickly positioned herself at my side and spent the next hour stroking my hair and hand, giggling at every funny face I made at her, and hugging me repeatedly–she hugged me so many times I thought her hand prints would be permanently embedded into my waist. Several days later we went back to this same orphanage. I didn’t have to look for Marina, she found me. She came running as she saw our taxi pull up in front of the orphanage and attached to me like gum on the bottom of a shoe. She drew from me every ounce of love and attention I could give. Yes, Marina needed new clothing and it was a pleasure to outfit her in a new pair of pants and a shirt. Yet, what Marina needed just as desperately could not be bought at a market or dropped in the mail… what Marina longed for most of all was love.




                                                    Marina and Roman (friends)

Nine month old Sasha’s big brown eyes and pink sweater made me think he was a girl. I walked over to him, and immediately my heart filled up with overwhelming compassion. How could someone leave this beautiful baby? What situation surrounded the mother’s choice to abandon him at the hospital, to leave an innocent, helpless child at the mercy of strangers? The Bible tells us that love compels, so perhaps I experienced a smidgen of God’s love for Sasha because I felt compelled to make a difference in the life of this beautiful little boy. At the same time I felt somewhat helpless, wondering what I could do in the brief time I would spend with him. I silently began to pray, asking God to bring Sasha a forever family who would love him, nurture him and bring him up in the truth of God. I realized in that moment that what I had to give was as important as diapers and a replacement for his pink sweater, (although he needed those).  I could give Sasha the love of Christ flowing through me.

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                                         Sundy, with Sasha,  who captured her heart!

God has given each of us that know Him an eternal gift, and He has asked us to give that gift away. It is a gift that cuts through every language barrier. It can reach and heal every hopeless and lonely heart. It can compel those who have plenty to share with those who don’t. It is the gift of God’s love. Love comes in many forms, but its source is always Christ. I realized that as a Christian, I have a responsibility, a commandment even, to take care of the orphans of the  world to the best of my ability. By offering love through financial resources, clothing, time, personal involvement, or prayer, you and I can make a difference. 

I know that my heart has been eternally changed by the heart-breaking faces of each child I encountered.  This two week mission has opened my eyes to a very different world than I’m accustomed to–a world of desperate need, a world of hopelessness and despair, a world where children have no dreams of the future. And over and over again, I’m struck with the realization that all this stunning need has its origin and its solution in one powerful ingredient.  That ingredient is love.

Through the eyes of a teen! – Summer 2007

 Nancy.jpg                                                 When our group left for Ukraine a few weeks ago, I was excited and nervous about the two weeks ahead of me.  The nine of us were headed to Dzerzhinsk, a small town in rural Ukraine, to help with a community Bible school and to distribute humanitarian aid.  Though I’m not the most well-traveled teenager, I thought I had prepared myself, having studied travel guides, practiced reading the Ukrainian alphabet, and packed every travel-sized toiletry know to man.  None of this, however, prepared me for the emotional and spiritual journey ahead.  By the time the Bible school began on Monday morning, I was overwhelmed, exhausted, and worried about what I’d gotten myself into.  I didn’t know how I could relate with the children when I couldn’t even talk with them.  My worries were quickly relieved, though, by the children’s warm smiles and anxious laughter.  As my class sang “Jesus Loves the Little Children,” both in Russian and in English, it struck me that though language is not universal, God’s love is.  I didn’t have to read the Russian Bible to my class to minister to the children.

Simply holding hands, singing songs, and making crafts with them was enough to show that we cared.  Each of us showed God’s love in some way that week:  playing basketball, teaching a game, or leading a silly song.  I’m so grateful to Independent Presbyterian Church and His Kids, Too! for the opportunity to have been able to reach out to the children of Dzerzhinsk in this memorable way.

Nancy Cooper

Birmingham, AL 

L.E. Knisely – Father’s Day Special

Dad's love still a stitch that binds
By: Tom Quimbly
The News Herald
Sunday, June 16, 2002

ONE YEAR LATER: Though he is gone, a father's love for his family carries warmth to an orphanage in Ukraine.

He was the father of seven children, a highly decorated pilot who fought in World War II and Korea. He died last Father's Day in Panama City.

Jim Knisely left behind many memories and lessons for his children, one of which was his devotion to family, especially to his wife, L.E. Knisely.

"He always called her the 'love of my life,'" said his daughter, Carolyn Beach.

L.E. Knisely reciprocated that love by staying at her husband's side as he battled complications from cancer, and knitting winter hats. There are about 100 now, each reminiscent of the love and devotion the couple shared. The hats will go to needy children in the former Soviet Union.

"He would be excited everyday," Beach said of her father, who lay on the couch during his illness while her mother sat in a recliner nearby, knitting. "He would say things like, 'Okay, what kind of color combinations are we going to have today?'"

Beach, a Tallahassee resident, said exemplary moments like those show her father's positive attitude, which came shining through even in the last days of his life.

"I miss his good attitude," she said. "He always had a positive attitude, no matter what. If any of us kids were competing for anything, he would say we were going to win. He never complained. He had such a positive attitude, even throughout his illness."

Thomasville, Ga., resident Bill Knisely remembers his dad as being an outgoing family man who was excited to retire from the Air Force to Callaway in the late 1960s, where he could take the family fishing in the gulf.

The retired colonel had aced his captain's exam and bought a boat, said Bill Knisely, who was recruited to be the deckhand.

"My dad was full of life. He was really passionate with his family. He wasn't one to show his feelings, but you knew that the love was there," Knisely said.

Bill Knisely said from 14 to 16, he enjoyed fishing three summers with his dad. He said it was tough helping out on the boat, but he looks back fondly on those times.

"We saw a lot of things out on the ocean: large sharks, big schools of porpoises, things you take for granted. He loved the Gulf of Mexico."

Knisely said he learned important lessons from his father that he carries today.

"I learned to do things right with honesty and integrity, all those things you learn in the military. There was no halfway of doing things."

In that same vein of seeing projects through to completion, Beach thought it appropriate to send all those knitted hats to an orphanage in Ukraine. She said a sister came up with the idea for their mother to knit the hats and send them overseas. Now Beach is doing her part by getting them to His Kids Too, a Christian charity in Tallahassee, for delivery.

L.E. Knisely, 85, is pretty thrilled about that. "I think that's wonderful. Anything you can do for an orphanage is wonderful."

There is no Father's Day in Ukraine, says His Kids Too director Teresa Fillmon. She says children there are in desperate need of the kind of love and support Jim Knisely brought to his family.

Given her father's faith, Beach believes his love came from a higher source. Shortly after her father died last year, she was comforted by a member of Callaway United Methodist Church.

"A member in my mother's church said, 'I know you can't realize this right now, but on future Father's Days when you think of your father, just remember that he went home to be with his father," said Beach, who credits her faith in helping her to get through the loss of her father. "I will never forget that."

For more information about His Kids Too, visit the Web site, or call 850-524-5437.

The writer can be contacted at

Margaret S.

margaret.jpgI was 45 before I thought seriously about bringing children into my life. But once I made the decision to adopt, my life started on a course that has taken me to places in my heart and soul that I never knew existed. I travelled to Ukraine in November, 2003 and returned home the proud parent of two small boys, now ages 4 and 5. As a single woman, I have struggled many times over the past two and a half years, but my faith in God and the support of my church and friends have helped me to make the transition to a loving parent.

I published my adoption book, "The Pumpkin Patch: A Single Woman's International Adoption Journey" in 2005; part of the reason I did so was to share my story with others who were considering adoption as a way of adding children to their lives. I knew deep in my heart that my experience in Ukraine had ignited a passion to help the children who have not yet been adopted.

Through the various groups that I joined, I came across and read with interest about their involvement with orphaned children in Ukraine. Several months ago I read an email that Teresa sent about a boys' prison in Ukraine. After reading about the dismal conditions faced by the orphans who were incarcerated, I committed to raising $1000 to help them. I have been blessed with a wonderful career as a marketing consultant, and through my connection with a group of people at AOL and my church, we raised over $1100. I also contributed two large boxes of warm clothing and shoes for the boys. It was a wonderful feeling to know that I was part of an effort to give these boys food that would feed their hunger and clothes to warm their bodies–knowing that my boys might very well have ended up at that prison had I not adopted them.

I am grateful to Teresa for providing me with an opportunity to share my blessings and good fortune with these innocent children.

Best regards,


Directors Note: Margaret (and her friends) continues to support the prison boys ministry, and recently sent 75 personal care bags to Ukraine for them. Thank you!

Lindsey Cook

lindsey and teacher.jpg Lindsey class.jpg Lindsey.jpg

When I asked my daughters, Lindsey, 17, and Leeann, 13, if they wanted to help with Christmas boxes for kids in Ukraine they enthusiastically said "Yes". Lindsey is president of her high school Beta Club and Leeann is involved in a program called Peer Helper at her school. They both took the initiative and got the projects up on running. They love their brother Daniel so much and to think that he very easily could still be there alone in that orphanage having nothing or no one to share Christmas with sends shivers down their spines. This is what they had to say: “The most significant experience in our lives has been the adoption of our younger brother, Daniel. Our family adopted him from Ukraine about five years ago.  He was nine months old and weighed only twelve pounds. He had cleft lip and palate. He has taught us so many lessons simply by living. He has been faced with challenges in his short life that many of us will never experience; while in the orphanage he was starving, ill and all alone yet somehow he has managed to blossom into a beautiful boy full of energy and vitality. He wakes every morning with a smile on his face and a, "Good morning, how was your sleep?" He can often be heard saying things such as, "Isn't it a beautiful day" and "Now, this is the life!" He has inspired us to try and become people who make a difference in the world.

We want to say "Thank You" to His Kids Too! for helping us make a small difference in the lives of others.”


From the Director: Lindsey and her High School Beta club sent 130 Christmas 'shoe box gifts' to Ukraine. We thank them for their generous support in helping make a difference in the lives of so many orphans.

Walter Steely

WalterSteely.jpg In 2004, I made my first trip to Ukraine (and to volunteer at) Summer Bible Camp with Bill Wharton. While there I had the opportunity to meet Teresa and Rich Fillmon and their wonderful family.

Again during the summer of 2005, I returned to Ukraine for the Bible Camp. This time I learned more about the work of His Kids, Too! and what I could do to help in this ministry. Seeing these children in the hospitals and orphanages helped me to decide to return in the fall of 2005. I could help in giving out clothes and visiting the children's hospitals and orphanages.

On this trip (fall of 2005), I made my first visit to Toraz and saw for the first time the death house of so many of these children. I do not have words to describe this place.

At this time, my life is consumed with this ministry. God has shown me what I can do for these children. One thing I can do is to try to find homes in America for these children to be adopted so that children do not end up at Toraz. I can see working with this organization for the rest of my life, God willing, and will try to make a difference in the lives of these children. Hopefully we will be able to build an orphanage to provide better housing for the children and find widows to care for them.

If you love God and His creations, there is a place for you in this ministry. There are many ways you can help; raising funds for food and supplies for these children, build housing, buying fuel for winter, donate funding for purchasing medicine, clothing, shipping costs or perhaps making blankets, or writing letters of encouragement to the children.

You may be interested in visiting these children yourselves and if you do, your life will be changed in so many ways. You will see things that will break heart but you will also see the joy in the eyes of these children that will set your hearts on fire.

Come join us. You will see the blessings of our Father in Heaven through His Son, Jesus Christ.

Andrea Robinson

andrea.jpgWhen I was married at 25, my health had dictated it would not have been wise at that time to become pregnant. My mother had said why don't you adopt? I think perhaps this was a very early sub conscience seed that was forever etched in my brain. I remained married for 10 years, and never felt it would have been a good time to raise children, under our circumstances. We divorced when we were 35 and I thought I had plenty of time to find someone and still have children. After all, so many stars in Hollywood were having children in the late 40's and 50's.! I thought great! I have another 10 years to find my soul mate and have children. Little did the public know the women were buying eggs from 20 year olds claiming them as their own. Ahh.. Hollywood.

As I was moving past 40, Mr. soul mate still eluded me, and I knew the chance for pregnancy was going to become harder, even though birthing children was not a major drive in my life. So as I turned 42, I started my exciting journey in the internet to study adoption. I decided that I was not going to live on the planet without children, and perhaps I could find the guy later.

After I read the horrible fate of children in the orphanages of Eastern Europe, I decided that those children have a seriously difficult future compared to children of America. I feel everyone has an opportunity for a great life in America, but this is clearly not so in the depressed countries of Eastern Europe. As the children age out of the orphanage at 16 years old,10% of them commit suicide within the first year. Knowing this, I decided to adopt in Ukraine. Also, I am UKrainian decent, things were falling into place. This is when I met Teresa Fillmon online at EEAC Ukrainian adoptions. We were both doing our paper work at the same time.

I went to Kiev in Nov. of 2000, I had some dossier problems, so I stayed in Kiev for 3 weeks and visited some other older children orphanages in the city. I remember a boy who was 15 and had a family visit in Long Beach, Ca through a church. The photo book of his trip was all he owned in his life, and was waiting for them to return for him, but they had decided not to adopt him. He didn't know this, he just kept waiting for them.

I did not want to adopt a child over 2 yrs. old, but I kept myself open up to 10 years old. But….I truly wanted to change diapers and live through every stage possible. I found my son Alex at 1.11 yrs. old, in the Donetsk Region. The baby house welcome sign reads, There are 200 of us waiting for you everyday. It was clean, warm, and safe. Their bedtime was at 9 – 10 p.m. and up at 6 am. They did not have diapers for bedtime, they marched the little children 2 X a night to sit on the pots . My son was the size of an 18 month old but he was 2. I didn't understand why he would be falling with no reason every 8 minutes while he played. He was completely exhausted. When we got into the hotel, I put his first pull up on him and let him sleep the 10-11 hours he needed, within 4 days this behavior ceased. Within 6 months of great food, sunshine, laughter, and lots of kisses (he DID have love in the orphanage) he grew 4 inches. After seeing 4-5 orphanages and knowing from experience where my son would be if he was still in the system, I had to find a way to give back when I returned home.

That is when I ran into Teresa online again, to find out she had a beautiful daughter from Donetsk, and had a charity that was taking donations back to Donetsk. I was elated! Ukraine gave me the most beautiful treasure in my life, finally I can say thank you.

I showed all my married and single friends His Kids Too web site, and what Teresa was accomplishing. Everyone had committed to saving clothes, shoes toys, movies, and hygiene items, I send about 300 lbs a year of great clean clothing. I know that these donations will clothe hundreds of children and widows, I feel elated every time I close up the boxes and send them.

Yes I am a single adoptive mother, and yes it is important for children to have male and female influence equally. But no, it is not better for these kids to remain in orphanages just because you do not have the perfect situation. My dear father helped me raise my son until his passing in Feb. 06. When I was crying my son came to me and said, "Mama, I'm here, I will kiss your tears away". Alex is a true joy.

If you are single or married and thinking about adopting. Just do it. 🙂 I laid in bed at night with my eyes wide open,,, how can I do this? I kept moving forward everyday and kept my eye on the prize. They say raising children is the hardest thing you will ever love doing and if it was 1000 times harder, and I knew who my son was, I would still do it.

If you are now searching, be patient, as pregnancy is possible, adoption is for sure. There are 80,000 orphans in Ukraine, they are wonderful, smart, beautiful children and just know that your child is waiting for you. What a precious gift children are, they are a true spiritual cycle of life.

But please …don't delay, these children pray everyday to have a family. They have a horrible future ahead of them. Good luck in your search and thank you for those of you that will donate.

Blessings and respect to those who are reading His Kids, Too! web site. This means your thinking and feeling for others.

Andrea Robinson

To read more about Andrea's single adoption, and her experience as a single mother, watch her interview at:

Judy Henderson

Judy.jpgI have been to Ukraine 5 summers in a row mostly to direct the children at Summer Bible School at one of the elementary schools and an orphanage boarding school. This experience has changed my life; it changed the way I look at my life and the life of our US children. It changed the way I teach. It changed the way I live my life. I am so much aware of the waste the US goes through, how much we take for granted. Like running water, flush toilets, electricity, food (do you know we do "art" projects with food that could feed 20 children?), and transportation. The excuses we can come up with for not worshiping our Lord. "My car would not start", etc. I met a man in the Ukraine who rode his bike to church every Sunday (while he was alive) 7 miles one way I was told. And children who walk to school for the Bible classes with holes in their shoes – they were always early waiting for us and anxious to begin. (Are the children you teach on time? anxious to learn? can't get enough of God's Word?), and there were very few behavior problems – because they WANTED to be there!

It is such a wonderful experience to spend time with the children , to get to know them and play with them and just to let them know we care about them. Not only were my skills of comunication improved but my photograghy improved – you just can't help but take pictures of them – not only to remember them but because they are so much fun. I'm enclosing a picture of 2 girls I took last year – best friends – and I won 2nd Place at the North Florida Fair with the picture.

If you want a fantastic trip go to the Ukraine and help with the Bible school or with Teresa & Rich as they visit orphanges and deliver food, clothes and toys. The look on the children's faces will bring you to tears and it is such a feeling of pleasure to know you had some part in bringing a little happiness into these children's lives. What can I say – they gave me so much more than I gave them!

Thank you for letting me share some of my story with you

Judy Henderson