"You can't always know what God is going to do when you're working on a book so you just leave it in God's care and see where it goes," says a Manitoba author, unaware his children's book would be used during a time of crisis and war in Ukraine.
Paul Boge from Winnipeg is the author of the book, The Biggest Family in the World. It's is about Charles Mulli's life and how he grew up an abandoned orphan in Kenya, attained a mass amount of money, and then gave it all back to help, love, and raise orphans in Kenya. The illustrations were done by Winnipeg's own Faye Hall.
The illustrated book was published in Canada in 2015. Since that time it's been translated into Russian, Mandarin, and Ukrainian.
"I have very dear friends of mine that are missionaries in Ukraine, at a place called Shelter Plus," says Boge.
Sasha Romanch lives in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, and has dedicated his life to serving orphans and needy children at Shelter Plus.
"We [Sasha and I] thought, I wonder if the story of Charles Mulli might be of interest to children in Ukraine. We thought Charles, who was an abandoned child in Africa, might be an encouragement there."
Translating the book into Ukrainian language wasn't an overnight process. But the finished product came at just the right time.
"In God's providence, this book showed up four weeks before the invasion," says Boge.
With the threat of attack growing, Romanch had to send his wife and two young daughters away for safety. However, he stayed back to help the children at the shelter. The 1,000 printed copies of Boge's book arrived at Shelter Plus at the end of January for Romanch to share.
"When the war broke out, Sasha had this incredible idea. He said, there are all these kids getting onto trains, who knows where they're going. But this is an incredible opportunity to talk to their parents and say 'Here's a free book of encouragement.'"
Boge is blown away at how things have worked out.
"It's beyond anything I could have ever expected. For any artist, whether you're a musician, a painter, author, the number one thing that we want is to be used by God to fulfill His kingdom."
Boge's Ties to Ukraine
"My grandfather was Ukrainian. He had to flee many, many years ago. Now you have the same thing happening again."
As Romanch gives copies of this story to families in Ukraine at train stations and elsewhere, he is bringing incredible hope to people who feel their own situation is hopeless. Children are encouraged to put their trust in Christ and to know that God has a purpose for their lives.
"I think, could my grandfather have ever imagined that 80-90 years later, his grandson would have written a book that was being given to share the gospel of Jesus Christ with kids in Ukraine who are fleeing, he couldn't have known that. But you think of just how God works together, even in very challenging circumstances, which we can't explain, but we can know that God is working even when we're not sure what's happening."