by Greg Yoder
Russia (MNN) ― This always happens. A team forms to go overseas to reach out with the Gospel. But as they reach out, they're touched in return, and lives are changed forever.
That's what happened with a group of 21 people representing Mission Network News, Way-FM and Orphan Outreach which traveled to Saint Petersburg, Russia to share the Gospel with kids at four orphanages.
During the summer months, many of the orphanages pack up and head to camps outside the city of Saint Petersburg. There, they spend the summer months in rural areas near beaches, in forests, and just out of the hustle and bustle of city life.
The MNN/Way-FM team was able to provide vacation Bible school programs at each of the camps they visited. They were able to meet kids from four orphanages in the region. They shared personal testimonies and Bible stories with the teens, and provided crafts, games and other fun to more than 200 kids during their visit August 16-20.
A few of the kids wanted to know more about how to have a home with Jesus. Others had seeds of the Gospel planted in their hearts. In addition, the kids left an incredible impression on many members of the team.
Paul Quezada, one of four men on the trip, says, "It really sparked a huge interest in forming a men's group to come over here next time. Psalm 68:5 says, 'A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His true Holiness.' It would be incredible to bring men over here because I really believe these little girls and boys are really starving for a father."
Katie Johnson, an art teacher, says she noticed a little girl at the special needs camp who had a gift for drawing. "These kids have talents. They have abilities that just aren't being realized because there's nobody there to look at them and say, 'Oh, you're so good at this. Let me help you. Let me help you get training. Let me help you learn how to get better.'"
Johnson doesn't know what the solution is, but she says, "I'd like to find out what could be done and how we can help these kids find programs where they can learn to develop their skills and their talents."
God used one little girl with Down syndrome to speak to Emily McKee. "I don't know, it just really touched me that this little girl doesn't have a chance. In America, she would go to school, and we would mainstream her with other kids, and she would have a life with other children her age."
However, in Russia, McKee says, "She'll just leave the orphanage where she'll go to an institution where she will stay for the rest of her life, never to be seen again by the people of Russia."
At least two of the team would like to join the Orphan Outreach internship program in Russia. Others would like to return to help in specific areas of ministry or begin programs at home.
If you'd like to join Orphan Outreach on a trip to Russia, there's another opportunity coming up in October. There's still time to go. Get more information by clicking here.