Russia (MNN) — Russian orphans are some of the most vulnerable, and thousands leave their orphanage each year, becoming high-risk for drugs, prostitution and suicide.
A saving knowledge of the God who loves them can literally rescue an orphan's life.
The largest short-term mission team ever sent by Mission Network News arrived in St. Petersburg, Russia this past Saturday to minister to these orphans. The team is partnering with Orphan Outreach and consists of 30 people from WAY-FM, MNN, and their listeners. The team will return next Sunday, August 21.
Over the next week, the team will be conducting vacation bible school for the kids, doing crafts, playing games and even holding a sports clinic. While there is a language barrier, team members will work closely with local churches and translators to communicate with the children.
Greg Yoder, Executive Director of Mission Network News, says their mission with the kids is "just to be able to love on them and care for them and show them that…we came all the way around the world just to care for them."
Yoder goes on to say, "The ultimate goal, of course, is to lead these little kids to Christ."
The team will be specifically working with orphans through a summer camp. Orphanage directors want to get kids out of the city as much as possible and away from the influence of gangs and drugs. Orphans at the summer camp get to enjoy the outdoors and will receive curriculum from the mission team.
Sadly, many of these orphans face a dire future with grim statistics. According to The CoMission for Children at Risk, about 15,000 Russian orphans between the ages of 16 to 18 graduate from orphanages each year.
Of those orphans, 40% get involved in organized crime, 40%t fall into drugs, 10%t commit suicide, and half the girls are trafficked into prostitution.
Furthermore, some orphans can be adopted out of the country. However, many aren't even eligible for adoption since they still have living relatives who visit them in the orphanage.
Yoder explains, "Basically the parents, or even some of the relatives, just put them in orphanages to kind of be the stop-gap measure to take care of these kids because it's not easy. It just becomes kind of a wasteland for many of these kids. It's really a sad situation."
The local church in Russia ministers to the orphans at least once a month, and the mission team hopes to encourage them by stimulating a little fresh energy into their efforts.
But most importantly, by coming in and loving on these orphans abandoned by society, team members hope to be the feet of Christ bringing His love and the mouth of Christ speaking truths of His Word to them.
Please pray for good weather this week, safe travel for the team, and receptive hearts to the Gospel message.