Dar Draper and her husband, Andrew, had been children’s pastors for 10 years when they felt compelled to expand their outreach. In 2015 they prayed, “Lord, give us more of a heart for kids in the world.” They promptly received an email inquiring if they’d be willing to host a teen orphan from Ukraine over Christmas.
Dar felt a bit overwhelmed. Her new book, Jasper, was about to be released, and her schedule was packed. She jokes, “What was I going to do? Say there was no room at the inn?”
The Drapers welcomed 16-year-old Sasha into their home for the holidays. He became an instant part of the family and shared with them how challenging life is for orphans.
In Ukraine, teens age out of orphanages between the ages of 15 and 18. There are almost no support systems in place, and orphans seldom know basic life skills. Many find themselves on the streets; 70% of males end up incarcerated. Due to many grueling factors, the average life span of an aged-out orphan is only 30.
Dar and Andrew flew to Ukraine in 2016 to visit Sasha and build relationships with his peers. Locals repeatedly asked, “Why are you here helping? They’re just orphans.”
Just orphans. The Drapers know God is the “Father of the fatherless.” (Psalm 68:5) They also know every individual is a cherished image bearer of the Father.
Dar and Andrew visited eastern Ukraine multiple times, working with a government orphanage. They helped orphans navigate a corrupted educational and political system. (Imagine having to pay bribes to get your final grade from a teacher or to obtain a driver’s license.)
In 2017, Dar and Andrew founded The GLOW Mission (Go Love Others Well). Their emphasis remained on supporting teen orphans. In addition, a profound need for assisting widows and the elderly was clear.
The Drapers eventually rented a home in Kyiv in 2021 and served there eight months. They were evacuated just before Russia invaded in February.
Since the war began, GLOW has labored in places like Romania, where refugees have fled for safety. GLOW vans have delivered food, clothing, and medicine to Ukrainians.
GLOW has sponsored 35 tiny homes to replace those destroyed by war. The long-term goal is 100 Homes of Hope. Ukrainians manufacture the homes, and three of the installers are aged-out orphans. Each home costs $4,000 to install and furnish.
For the future, Dar hopes that GLOW will lead Kids Clubs internationally that equip children to love and memorize scripture.
Why? The Drapers are passionate about Christ’s Great Commission. (Matthew 28:19) Because Jesus promises to be with us always, we can boldly love and serve others.
That is really neat. I have always wished that there was some hands on way I could help with orphans. I think the Drapers have founded such a neat deal.
That is very kind. I first thought this would be about the war with Russia, but this is even better.