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An Unlikely Son Comes Home

By Ray Tiernay

In July of 2001 I took my second trip with EEO. The first had been to Kosovo but this time I worked with our church and another local church and we went to Ukraine for summer camp.

I am a worship leader and it seemed that I got more involved with that end of camp and with the older boys than anything else. It was an awesome time and I enjoyed being with the teen boys and felt at home with them. I was in my comfort zone. One day a skinny little guy about ten years old with a blonde buzz cut and no shoes came up to me waving a ping-pong paddle. We couldn’t communicate with words but it was obvious he was looking for a partner. So off we went to play; I had no idea that there were much bigger things starting than ping-pong.

I was fifty years old at the time and my beautiful bride Linda and I had been married for almost thirty years. The year before I had taken an early retirement with the thought of having more time for ministry. Our two children were out of the house, on their own, and we were now grandparents. We were comfortable in our routine and had no thought of making any drastic changes to our life style. The ministry God seemed to have pointed us in was leading worship, writing music, and Linda and I ministering to married couples; nothing in it pointed toward orphans or young children.

After a couple of days of ping-pong and some long walks to get water from the well this young boy, Ivan, and I were becoming fast friends. One of the American counselors, who lived in Ukraine, told me his story. His mother was deceased, his father incarcerated and his great-grandmother, unable to care for him and his siblings, had placed them in the state run orphanage. As I prayed that night I could feel something opening up inside me and I knew that God was calling for a change in me. We knew what He was asking would require changes in our lives, like returning to work and giving up our settled life, but we also knew we had to say yes.

Linda and I decided to answer the call and, through prayer and support from family and friends, did what was needed to meet the adoption requirements and bring Ivan home to Rhode Island. 

eevon_17Over the next two years I made a total of six trips to Ukraine to visit him and to encourage him in the wait. Because of legal mix up’s it took us longer than most, but in October of 2003 Ivan, now Eevon Robert Tierney, came home with us. We changed the spelling of his name to Eevon because that is the way Ivan sounds in Ukrainian.

This story is quite long but the abridged version goes like this. Nothing has brought us more of a challenge or more joy. What God asks you to do He gives you all you need to do it and then He walks with you every step of the way. There have been times when we thought that the people who thought we were crazy might be right but the three of us have weathered every storm and moved past each obstacle with grace and commitment. 

Eevon is now preparing to graduate from North Providence High School. The boy that hated school in Ukraine, who acted out and vowed never to attend school again, has never missed a day of school unless he absolutely had to. The boy, who guidance counselors here said would probably never graduate, is maintaining a high B average, is reading at a level they said he never would, and was given an internship to fix and install all the computers in his school. Last year Eevon set the standard in Advanced Robotics and won an award for building and programming a robot that took first place in his school.

Even more important than his success in school is our success as a family. In each and every challenge we found blessings. We learned new ways to communicate because we had to, allowing God to stretch us all and becoming the better for it. We have watched love heal paralyzing fear and restore the smile to a young boys beautiful face. A child at risk, who had little to look forward to but a life of drug addiction, poverty and crime now understands that he is loved and has value to God and this family. 

In closing we would like to encourage anyone who has raised a family but still has life in them to share that life with a child who has never known a parents love. It may sound funny but you will even find you are probably a more relaxed parent the second time around. The road isn’t easy but it is the most unbelievable adventure you could ever go on, not as safe as retiring to Florida but much more rewarding. 

This article was submitted by:
Mercy Projects
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