Most every day, after devotions and coffee, I head down the stairs at Mission to Ukraine and enter the “big room” where classes for the disabled are held. Soon prayer, singing, games, and a Bible lesson ensue. I have even gotten to the point where I can join in a little on the songs. But as much as I do love a good sing-along in a foreign language, one of my absolute favorite parts of all these classes is bead time. And I’m not alone in this love. Trust me. I don’t think I have ever witnessed kids who love beads as much as the kids at MTU!

Beads are often used to create trees like this that MTU can later sell to support their ministry.

When I first saw how excited the kids were when the beads came out I thought, “ok what’s the big deal about beads?” I have helped out with numerous VBS’s back home with some really intricate crafts, and I have never seen kids get this excited over something as simple as beading. But when I watched these kids I realized something. These are more than just beads. These small, round, plastic objects are instruments of God.

Sasha

Take for example a girl I met named Sasha. As class began Sasha was not very engaged in the activities. She seemed quite shy and didn’t say a whole lot. She struggled to communicate well verbally and had to be coaxed along during the class.

But when the beads came out, she lit up. I had the joy of helping her with the bracelet she was making and I watched as this simple task transformed her attitude. No longer was she scared, shy, and unresponsive. She was sitting with me, a stranger who speaks English, smiling, laughing, and showing me her handiwork.

Tanya hard at work on her bracelet.

Now it would have been easy to look at the bracelet she made and see it for what it is in the simple objective sense, just a string with some beads on it. But to Sasha, it’s infinitely more. And as I looked at what my newly made friend had created I saw something beautiful, a piece of God’s kingdom on earth.

Many of the kids that come to MTU cannot express themselves in the same ways as you and I. They may not be able to articulate with words clearly or stay attentive to lessons long. But by making a bracelet, someone like Sasha has the joy of saying something beautiful through her creativity.

Dexterity

Of course, beads are not just a creative tool.  They also teach the kids dexterity.

This was something I witnessed in the life of Tanya. Tanya’s coordination wasn’t the greatest. But even though it took her longer then a lot of kids to make her bracelet, she had the patience to carefully string each small bead.

Through something she saw as fun and exciting, she was gaining invaluable agility and coordination skills.

One of the many smiles at Romaniv Orphanage.

Beads at Romaniv

But the kids at MTU are not the only ones who benefit from bead time.

Before I ever got the chance to head out to Romaniv Orphanage I was told that the first thing the boys ask when you arrive is “do you have the beads?!?!” Sure enough, after songs, story time, and games, out came the beads and out came the smiles on every boy’s face. Some of the boys clapped their hands; one boy even grabbed my arm in jubilation!

Placed before them on the table was a little plate full of beads, and in their hands was a string. Simple objects. Yet objects that bring joy, learning, and creativity.

A Limited Resource

Unfortunately, beads are a limited resource and this resource is running low. Right now, Mission to Ukraine needs your help to keep them from running out!

A colorful beaded tree resting on a shelf in Romaniv.

Be a part of this kingdom work. Hop into your car, drive up the street to a nearby store, and pick up a tub of beads. Then send them to MTU’s headquarters in Indiana (see the Next Steps for more info).

Whether your beads end up in the hands of an orphan boy at Romaniv or a kid attending a class at MTU, they will be added to the colorful mosaic of beads God has created among the disabled of Zhytomyr.

Something Bigger

Maybe beads are just small, round pieces of plastic with holes in them… But maybe they are part of something much bigger.

The world we live in is often unfair, confusing, and frustratingly complex for those with disabilities. But there is something beautiful in the simplicity of these colorful beads and the joy they bring to God’s children.

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Next Steps
    • Share God’s love with the disabled of Zhytomyr by sending your own contribution of beads to Mission to Ukraine, 1033 Third Ave. SW, Suite 105, Carmel, IN 46032.
    • If you’re feeling really ambitious, have a bead drive and collect beads from people you know to send to Zhytomyr!
    • Please pray that God would continue to bless these kids through the ministry of beads.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Krystallin was a summer intern with World Next Door in 2010. She is currently a senior at Moody Bible Institute majoring in Communication Studies. After graduation, she hopes to spend her life pursuing justice for the oppressed. She loves adventure and chases tornadoes on her time off.

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Comments

  1. Jill said... 

    Reply

    June 23rd, 2010 at 1:13 pm  

    I love the bead collection idea! I have seen the same joy in these children when the beads appear. Thank you for reminding us all that God works mostly in the small things of life.

  2. Jo Nading said... 

    Reply

    June 23rd, 2010 at 2:15 pm  

    having girls of my own, beads were always part of the younger age of growing up – the beads got smaller as my girls got larger…a sign of improvement in their dexterity, patience, and creativity. So glad you get to be a part of this growth – as you watch the kiddos and as you sense the maturity in you. Look forward to reading more from you.

  3. Jim M said... 

    Reply

    June 23rd, 2010 at 8:00 pm  

    Beads…hummm, I think you have a number of folks attention with this request.

    Krystallin, what a beautiful reminder of Gods work through the seemingly small things in life. What a great story. I like the terms “bead time”. and “bead ministry”. :)

    J

  4. Kevin said... 

    Reply

    June 27th, 2010 at 2:06 pm  

    Thanks for sharing such an easy and tangible way we can make a difference in a child’s life. Krystallin, keep up the great work. Beads are on the way.

  5. Tanya said... 

    Reply

    July 6th, 2010 at 1:50 pm  

    This is so true :) Our kids are enjoying beads immensly. Beads have become one more opportunity to say: God loves you :)

  6. jessica said... 

    Reply

    November 5th, 2013 at 12:45 pm  

    This comment is three years after the story, but I have to share what is on my heart. I’ve been reading up on missiontoukraine.org and that lead me here to this beautiful story. I love how you have explained God’s beauty and kingdom’s purpose in a simple form of a bead. It goes to show that you cannot underestimate the value of anything in this world. The trees that they have made are beautiful and reminded me of Jeremiah 17:7-8: “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads its roots out by the river and will not fear when heat comes;…”

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