"Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans in their distress ..."
Sanchursk Russia 2002
The children featured in this video are now well into their adult years. You can read the account written about the journey to build the gymnasium floor in the Newsletter. We had an opportunity to return many years later to see how the entire community had benefited from the efforts of our visiting team from East West. To read more of that encounter and the blessings click here.
A Sower goes out to sow the seeds...
Voronezh is located an overnight train ride from Moscow. It was always an adventure when our large group of VERY Western-looking team members arrived at the station. In Soviet Times, Voronezh was closed to foreign visitors at is was the hub of the AeroSpace industry. Through the years we visited over ten times, watching the children grow into amazing adults now with ministry in the orphanages they grew up in.
Located to the far northeast of Moscow, and renamed after an assassinated Bolshevik leader, Kirov region is also an area steeped with rural and remote orphanages. Year after year, we returned to encourage and share the love of Christ with children abandoned or orphaned by a social system that had failed them. The local evangelical churches brought programs, supplies, food and hope at a time when all seemed lost.
Buturlinovka changed us all. Our team was allowed in to the orphanage housing children with severe disabilities. The Director was reluctant to allow foreign guests in due to Washington Post article that had been written the year before. It referred to the home as a gulag. While all of the statements in the article were accurate, it did not convey the broader truth we encountered in the hard-working dedicated caregivers that were making due with the pittence of resources they had.
Kaluga was our first experience to Russia in 1998. The economic hardship brought on by Perestroika, created open doors for the Gospel. Each day on the streets, hundreds of children appeared and were invited to the Gospel program later that evening. The Interpreters were frightened by the presence of the police, but on the last day - they asked for a balloon animal and a photo.
Salekhard is the only city in the world on the Arctic Circle. It was often used as a place of exile during the Tsarist and Soviet times. We visited TB Clinics for children, schools filled with social orphans from the indigenous Nenets - nomadic reindeer herders of the region. Many of the orphanages had boys aging out and on their way to Afghanistan to fight. When I asked the interpreters why they would want to spend time with a Clown, they said, "Don't worry, they see your heart - what's inside."
Yekaterinburg is the gateway city to Siberia. It is rich in resources and history. After the Bolshevik Revolution Tsar Nicholas Alexander and his family were exiled there and later executed. We found ourselves in that remote area ministering to children who it seemed the world has forgotten. Our visit to towns and institutions that appear on very few maps were sure evidence Christ knows their name and exactly where they live. Joy and laughter were in abundance!