I wish I had started a journal and kept track of all the times people have told me, “But you can’t do that!” I was not particularly rebellious growing up. I am an only child and was respectful and obedient. I don’t know when it started, but I started to learn even as a child, that when you set a goal for something there will always be some people around you who will tell you that you can’t do that.
When I was twelve, I fired my figure skating coach. The skating school director told me I couldn’t do that. But I needed a coach who understood skating competition requirements and could take me to another level. I started with a new coach and my whole world changed for the better and I learned skills I’ve used all my life.
When I was finishing up my college education I interned on a very popular soap opera. I was told by the talent director that I would never get a job in Hollywood. I interned on a top ten sitcom and in three months I was being interviewed for a TV show who had just hired their talent, a sitcom star by the name of Bob Saget. I told them, “I know him!” I really did too. We got to know each other hanging out at the stage phone on Full House. I was hired and worked on both America’s Funniest Videos and America’s Funniest People.
After my first missions trip to Ukraine, I felt a deep passion in my heart to return and minister here. Some people told me you can’t do that. Fifteen years after arriving in Ukraine, I speak Russian (I really DIDN’T think I could do that, believe me!) and have been ministering to at risk children since I arrived.
My point in sharing this is not to brag, and I’m actually very shy about sharing these moments from my life. But I feel I need to share some personal stories to make my point. We can do things. Things that other people think that we can’t. And it can change our lives and the lives of the people around us. We don’t have to keep doing things the same way everyone else does them over and over, stuck in a rut.
Ministering to street children was the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Harder than passing skating tests and harder than working on a TV show. One of the reasons it’s so hard is because these children are in such a depressed place emotionally, spiritually and physically. The people around them automatically give up on them. When you tell people that you are trying to help rehabilitate them, people will inevitably tell you that you can’t do that. I have had people get in screaming matches with me on this one!
I’ve noticed that sometimes in the world of ministry we think everyone has their place and for those we are helping or ministering to, we have to keep them in theirs so we can keep ours going. We keep the status quo of the world going around us to try and keep the illusion of stability alive. We get stuck in a rut instead of listening to God and trying to follow the path he has for us.
People sometimes forget that children are just little people. Each one has hopes, dreams and fears. You can’t bunch them all together in groups and stereotype them. Each one is an individual and needs individual attention. Each one has a name and history and even more importantly, a future.
Nine years ago I wanted to get the street kids I was working with to play baseball. Guess what I was told? You can’t do that. And it was added emphatically that soccer is the national sport of Ukraine and I’d better stick to only teaching them soccer. There will never be baseball in Ukraine.
Now, I would like to share with you this photo, taken nine years later, this last weekend and I believe there are a few Ukrainian baseball players in it:
This is the Kyiv team that played in the 2014 Ukrainian Little League Championship and came in 3rd place. On this team are two boys from a rehabilitation shelter. The same kind of kids that I was told nine years ago, couldn’t do anything or wouldn’t amount to anything in life. Both pitched, played first and third base and shortstop. They both got hits and got on base.
We can do things. We can teach others to do things. We need to stop telling each other that we can’t do that and start helping each other do the impossible. The impossible is not as far away as you think.
Don’t limit yourself or limit others.
“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” – Philippians 4:13