Last winter, at a church event, I saw this video. I tried to hold back the tears but a few slipped out despite my best effort. And, I remember, after the event, saying to a friend, “as if having to pray for the kids in Southeast Asia, and Africa isn’t already enough!” I determined then, to give what I could (or shall I say, what “we” could) to help the children in Russia. Our church was planning to help Fund Pchyolka buy some land for a youth center near Kaliningrad, Russia. The youth center will be used by the kids who “age out” of the orphanages with the intent of helping prepare them for life on the “outside.”
The average orphaned child in Russia, once leaving the orphanage, ends up on the streets, either selling drugs or selling themselves. Most are dead by the age of 30, usually a result of suicide. It’s a sad situation, to say the least.
I came home that day ONLY with the intention that we’d help out some way financially. That’s it, just financially! Shortly thereafter we received a list of the anticipated Global Project trips for 2009. Hmmm…let’s see, there was Peru, Seattle, Iowa, Italy (that sounds like it could be interesting,) Argentina, Israel, Australia (which is the trip I was pushing for, but it was postponed), Swaziland (oh, I’d love to go back there), and Russia. John read the trip descriptions over and over and finally announced, “I’d really like to go to Russia.” Russia? Really? I was puzzled (if you could see the look on my face as I type this you’d know I still am a bit puzzled.)
My biggest concern was that Russia was listed as a “Youth Trip.” Somehow, the idea of going on a mission trip with a bunch of teens was a bit overwhelming. But, we checked with our Global Projects' pastor and found out that indeed, we were welcome on the trip. So, before I knew it our money was turned in and plans were underway.
We are, indeed, the old people on the trip, by a significant number of years, but the “kids” have welcomed us into the group (and I know at least one parent who is thrilled that we're going.) The team is actually quite small; two teens, four 20-somethings, our youth pastor, the director of Fund Pycholka, and of course, John and me. We’ll be working at an orphanage that cares for 20 kids, ages 7 – 17.
Today, a friend asked me why, with the outlook so bleak for these children, I am going. What difference could I make? Here's what I'm praying for. I want to shower these kids with love, if only for a week, like they’ve never known. I hope I can help them see, that the love I share with them is not mine really, but God’s, and it’s theirs to keep. And, I pray that they will see that Jesus is THE BEST GUY to walk through life with and offers a hope like no one else can.
When I leave Russia I don’t want the kids, or the orphan care workers, to say “How nice that they came to visit us.” I want them to say, "God made a difference here this past week." I know those kids will eventually forget who I am, but I pray they never forget the love, and hope, that can only be found in Jesus Christ. For you see, it's not about what I will do, it's about what God will do.
THAT is why I’m going to Russia.
Check back throughout the week for updates (hopefully) along the way. Your prayers are greatly appreciated. As we do our last minute packing I can’t help but think of Chris Tomlin’s song, "God of This City." I’ll probably be humming it as our plane touches down in Kaliningrad.
You're the God of this city
You're the King of these people
You're the Lord of this nation
You're the light in this darkness
You're the hope to the hopeless
You're the peace to the restless
For there is no one like our God
There is no one like You God
For greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done
In this city
Greater things have yet to come
And greater things are still to be done here