Russia (MNN) — There are more than 700,000 orphan and street children in Russia alone. With drug and alcohol abuse, HIV/AIDS, and a poor economy, the situation isn't getting any better. More and more children are becoming wards of the state. That means more and more are ending up in "the system." They're institutionalized. They're placed in orphanages.
While adopting children from Russia has been allowed in the past, it's very difficult now. Sometimes it takes years and thousands of dollars to make a Russian child a part of your family. But adoption isn't the only way you can help. You can help by simply loving these kids.
On August 13, Mission Network News and Orphan Outreach are teaming up together to head to St. Petersburg, Russia to love children that have either been abandoned, abused or orphaned.
Anchor and Executive Director of Mission Network News, Greg Yoder, is an adoptive parent. He and his wife, Ann, adopted their daughter, Anastasia, from Irkutsk, Russia in 2002. "Adoption isn't for everyone. In fact, I would suggest people do a lot of investigation and research before they decide to adopt a child internationally. But anybody can love kids. And that's what we're going to be doing on this trip."
The MNN/Orphan Outreach Team will be traveling to St. Petersburg, to visit Crisis Center #15. This is the first stop in a child's life as a ward of the state. This Center acts as triage for the children of St. Petersburg who have been abused, neglected, abandoned or orphaned. Children who are brought here range in age from infants to teenagers. Many are newborns who have been abandoned on the street or found in dumpsters. The team will also visit and minister to orphans in orphanages in the region of Leningrad.
"This trip with bring both great joy and great sorrow," says Yoder. "We'll spend time holding babies, playing tag with the kids, or kicking a soccer ball around with the teens. While we can't communicate with them because of the language barrier, we can show them they're loved — not just by members of the team, but by God himself."
With the help of local Christians, this team will do hands-on evangelism with orphans at Crisis Center #15 through Vacation Bible school, crafts, soccer clinic and more.
"We're looking for people who love babies, toddlers, young kids and teens and who desperately want to see them turn to Christ for hope–especially when it doesn't seem very hopeful," Yoder says.
Many orphaned children in Russia either end up addicted to drugs and alcohol, involved in organized crime, in prostitution, or they commit suicide — all by the time they're 18. Yoder says, "Because Orphan Outreach works through the evangelical church, many of these kids hear the Gospel and turn to Christ. The team may be the stepping stone for these kids to have a relationship with Christ and get involved in the local church."
MNN and Orphan Outreach would like you to be a part of this team. Deadline to register for the trip is April 14. Click here to learn more and to sign up for the trip.