Friday, June 23, 2000

Dad, two sons headed for Ukraine with hope, prayers

By John Johnston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

Tim O'Brien (with Christopher) and Kathy, Patrick and Daniel.
(Michael E. Keating photo)
| ZOOM |
        The way Tim O'Brien sees it, he and his two boys will be stepping outside their comfort zone later this summer.

        Way outside. About 7,000 miles outside, as the crow flies.

        But Tim and his wife, Kathy, and sons Patrick, 16, and Daniel, 13, agree this is a good thing.

        Tim and the boys will travel to Ukraine on Aug. 3 as part of a 12-day missions-outreach program sponsored by Master Provisions, a Christian ministry based in Florence. They will live with a family in Kakhovka, a city of about 100,000 in southern Ukraine.

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nbsp;       Sitting in his comfortable Burlington living room with his wife and children, Tim says he views the trip as “a way for our family to be closer, and to be servants to God. ... There are great missions you can do locally, but there's something about going out of your comfort zone. You're really stepping out on faith.”

        Says Kathy: “We've never gone on a mission trip before, but we've always had a mission in trying to glorify God.”

        Tim is a self-employed commercial photographer. Kathy is an emergency room nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital. The O'Briens have known about Master Provisions since a friend, Roger Babik, founded it six years ago.

        Mr. Babik worked for Cincinnati Bell for 17 years but left to devote his time to the non-profit organization. It collects used clothing and shoes and ships them to poor people and Christian churches in Ukraine. It also creates jobs for Ukrainians who manage the distribution of goods, some of which are given away and some sold at low prices, Mr. Babik says.

        Mission trips are another function of the ministry. “Our purpose there is to share our faith in Christ, teach the Bible, and share our lives with them,” Mr. Babik says.

        The thought of going on such a trip had intrigued Tim O'Brien for some time. Then last year, he helped produce a videotape using footage Mr. Babik had shot in Ukraine.

        “The more I did that, the more I kept thinking, I want to be involved,” Tim says.

        Kathy says she would love to go, too. “But I just feel my place is here with (3-year-old son) Christopher, because he's so much younger. I don't think it's my time.”

        But the O'Briens thought it might be the right time for their two oldest children.

        Daniel had a choice between the missions trip and a Boy Scout canoe outing in Michigan. He immediately chose the missions trip.

        Patrick wasn't so sure.

        “It's gonna be hot there,” he says, “people don't speak the same language, different food ... But I thought about it for a couple weeks and decided I wanted to go.”

        The O'Briens, who are members of First Church of Christ, hope the trip will help their boys see that individuals can make a difference in the world. They also hope the boys will return with a renewed appreciation of what they have here.

        “The plane ride's how long?” Patrick asks his dad.

        Twelve hours on planes. Thirteen hours on a bus.

        Twenty-three people will make the journey. Once there, activities will include distributing Gospel literature, leading children's activities, participating in Bible studies, visiting an orphanage, helping lead an evangelistic festival and doing street evangelism.

        Most likely, the O'Briens' host family will not speak English, although interpreters will be available. About one-third of the city's residents are unemployed and the average wage is $50 a month, Mr. Babik says.

        For Tim O'Brien, the trip is another step on a personal spiritual journey.

        “If you had asked 10 years ago if I would be going on a missions trip to a foreign country where they don't speak English, no, there's no way.”

        Now, “I have to go there with a real servant heart and see what God has in store for me.”

        The O'Briens, and the others making the trip, have sent letters to friends, family and members of their church, asking for donations. The cost is $1,400 per person.

        They're also asking for prayers. And they'll be doing some praying of their own, preparing their hearts for whatever awaits.

        For more information about Master Provisions, or to make a tax-deductible donation, write the organization at 10 Fieldstone Court, Florence, Ky. 41042.


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