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A Heart for Ukraine: Zoë Knight '17
Opportunities for students after graduation lead many in a variety of directions. After graduating in 2017, Zoë Knight began working at a local church and planned to attend Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte. God led her in a different direction, however, and she began teaching high school English Literature at Covenant Day School in Charlotte, NC. After three years as a teacher, however, an opportunity to take a gap year working in Ukraine arose, and without hesitation she chose to pursue this opportunity.
This would not be the first time that Zoë has traveled or worked in Ukraine. Growing up, she and her family would travel to Ukraine to work with a summer camp program every year through Hope Now Ministries. This ministry was founded by a man from Britain, and became known as Hope Now UK. Since its founding, the program has grown and now has a ministry based out of the United States. This is currently where Zoë’s mother, Cyndee, serves as the director. One of Cyndee's roles has been working directly with a government run orphanage which serves many of the children who also attended summer camp.
Hope Now has a variety of projects, including "Wake Up," which is similar to Sunday school, for the children at the orphanage one Saturday a month. Other outreach includes a weekly youth group for graduates from the orphanage and mentorship programs; many graduates of these programs coming back to volunteer in these programs. There is also a sponsorship program where supporters can sponsor a child or a graduate. This includes sending letters and an annual present for their birthday. The ministry also collects items like boots and coats for winter, and other items that children outgrow quickly.
Stepping into the role as a volunteer teacher at Sophia School, the only Christian school in her city, proved to be challenging at times to Zoë. One difference that made adjusting to this environment a bit harder was the difference in education systems, like the grading system, lack of resources, and minimal technology. If adapting to a new school environment wasn’t hard enough apart from other challenges, she was also doing so with a language barrier.
In addition to teaching, she helped with various Hope Now projects, including a girl’s fitness club, which she started on her own. Her goal was to do simple workouts or other fitness related exercises to teach the girls the importance of exercise and create a positive body mindset.
Due to the current situation that Ukraine is facing, Zoë initially evacuated to France to stay with family friends, all while hoping to return. Unfortunately, the war did break out and so she came back to the states this week. She is incredibly grateful to have had this opportunity, even for only a brief time. One of the biggest rewards was being able to see God’s faithfulness in softening her heart towards the more difficult students but also in witnessing the progress that the students were making. She also is grateful to have developed stronger relationships with the Ukrainian volunteers and workers who serve daily with Hope Now.
Zoë asks that you join her in prayer for Hope Now Ministries with regard to the following specific situations. Initially, Sophia School was not operational. Now, after a month of war, they are implementing some online lessons to create some normalcy for both students and teachers alike. Outside of the school, most people have lost their jobs and therefore lost their income. There are sirens daily and people must go to shelters. There are strict curfews. Many have chosen to flee west or to Europe. The children at the orphanage are facing many challenges as some of them are not full orphans, which means they have a living family member, and are being asked to go home to open up beds in the orphanage. For many of these kids, it means they are returning to environments of abuse or poor living conditions. Since the war started, Ukrainian volunteers with Hope Now have miraculously evacuated 272 people into Romania. There is a ministry in Romania collecting the evacuees, providing them with shelter and food, and helping them plan their next steps.
Please pray for them, and imagine the emotions they must be feeling. Additionally, Zoë’s parents are flying to Romania this week to bring supplies to send over the border. There are many ministries like Hope Now doing similar work. Please pray that they are able to bring items to cities where essential supplies have run out of stock.
Lastly, Zoë asks for prayer to have a swift end to this war, and that God would exercise his miraculous power while bringing about his plan in all this.