I recently met a wonderful lady named Victoria who is part of a refugee ministry. Her family ministers to refugees from countries all over the world. I was amazed by her heart for serving others and how she and her husband, Sergrey, have involved their whole family in sharing God’s love with others. I asked her some questions about her family’s experiences, and I am excited to share her amazing stories of how God reached so many people through their simple act of obedience to serve Him where they found a need.
GKFTK: How have you served others as a family?
Khripunov Family: We have always seen our family as a team, no matter the age of our children. From the time our children were young and we were still living in Uzbekistan where there was a lot of persecution towards Christians, our children fully participated with us in our ministry, trainings, and camps. When they were only six years old, they would have to be on a “watch-out” by the camp’s gates in case police would come, so they could run back and notify us to hide all of our Christian materials. After moving to the United States, our family has had the opportunity to be start several ministries, a soccer ministry called Cup of Nations, a ministry to refugees, and a ministry to a neighborhood affected by the recent hurricane.
GKFTK: How did your family begin your soccer ministry, Cup of Nations?
Khripunov Family: A few months after we arrived to Houston, we decided to go to Galveston to spend time together. Sergey, my husband, started to play soccer with our boys. In five minutes there were over 15 people who joined them from different nations and languages, and all of them were so happy. During that time we didn’t speak any English, but we clearly understood that a ball can be a key tool in connecting different nations and communities. On that beach, a dream was born to start Cup of Nations in Houston. Cup of Nations is now a “mini world cup soccer” tournament, which unites people of different nations in Houston to represent their countries in a competition. First Cup of Nations was in 2010, and this year we will have our 9tht annual Cup of Nations. Now Cup of Nations (CoN) is in 22 cities of the United States and 25 countries around the world!
GKFTK: How did your family start your refugee ministry?
Khripunov Family: During the first CoN, we met refugees from Burma and Bhutan, and God immediately put them on our hearts. At Easter we decided to go visit players and bring them some little gifts to share. When we came to their apartments, we saw a street full of refugees from Southeast Asia. We saw many needs as a family, and we wanted to respond to those needs, because we believe that we are the hands and feet of Jesus. A year or so later, we started ESL classes, citizenship classes, and classes to teach hygiene and cleaning skills. Because we also moved to the United States as refugees in 2007, we felt a connection with these people and still love and serve with them to this day.
GKFTK: How did you start serving in a community hit by the hurricane?
Khripunov Family: After Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, a mobile home community right next to our neighborhood in Conroe was completely destroyed. We began to visit the community and bring them food once a week. Later, God put on our hearts to raise money to help these families rebuild their homes. We involved our whole family in the process, even our baby boy Ivan, who visits this broken place with us every time we go. Our daughter, Nadia, loves to spend time their with children and serve with us too.
GKFTK: How did you become interested in working with refugees and other people in need?
Khripunov Family: Our passion as a family has always been making disciples, as Jesus spoke about in Mathew 28 before He ascended to Heaven. We do these programs so that we can connect to communities and find people of peace whom we can disciple. We see that the biggest need around us is spiritual hunger. People are looking for something much more than just learning English. They want to experience joy and peace and grace and unconditional love, but nothing they have tried ever brought them any of that. We understand that the only way to experience these things is through Jesus, and we want to share this news with everyone. For us it also very important to grow disciples that make other disciples. We want to see the multiplication of disciples in the Kingdom of Heaven.
GKFTK: What have your kids learned from this experience?
Khripunov Family: My two older sons Roman and Pavel (who are now 22 and 20 years old) have been with us through everything. We have experienced persecution, deportation from Uzbekistan, and moving into a completely new country together. As they grew older and older they became more and more passionate about serving others. At 17 and 18, they decided to start a soccer club for refugee boys. In a month or so, they were coaching over 120 kids from 13 different nations. They did not expect that it would blow up that much. They had no experience, no resources, but they had a huge passion for the Lord and for the community. Now they are living among the refugees and continue to coach at five different locations and disciple many kids and young adults in that area.
GKFTK: How else has your ministry impacted your family?
Khripunov Family: I believe that serving together has brought so much unity and purpose to our family. We learned that when we are united together as a team, we can have a major impact on the lives of many people, not just in Houston, but around the world. Serving together has taught us how to walk with more dependence on both the Lord and each other. We love that we now get to do ministry full time with our two older sons. We are a family on a mission to change the world.
GKFTK: Wow! Your stories are so encouraging, and it is fun to hear how your family just looked for needs and went out and met them as a family, providing opportunities for God to show up and move in people’s hearts. Not only has serving like this brought unity and purpose to your family, it has changed countless lives for eternity! Thank you for sharing your stories with us!