Russia (SGA) — [The following report was written by by Oleg Smal, posted on Slavic Gospel Association’s web site.] What does it mean for a child who lived his entire life in an orphanage, or in a children’s home, to leave the only place he knew and come face to face outside with adult life? For many kids, their lives are filled with fear–fear of the unknown, of independence, of responsibility, and above all, the fear of being alone to face the invariable problems of life.
A significant part of Slavic Gospel Association‘s Orphans Reborn ministry that you help make possible is to minister Christ’s love to these graduates from the orphanages. Through Orphans Reborn, SGA has the opportunity to help these church workers visit orphans on a regular basis, give them Bibles, provide emergency food and clothing, and disciple those who choose to follow the Lord. We are not willing to abandon these young people. Every Tuesday evening, we have a meeting with the graduates where the kids can come to us for help. In addition to physical bread, we keep sharing spiritual bread–the Word of God–which is alive and real and touches the heart of every individual.
Gena is one such young man. Now 21 and back in Krasnoyarsk after his mandatory military service, he wanted to share his story with me. He came to Children’s Home No. 1 in Krasnoyarsk as a very young child. He began coming to our Bible lessons when he was 12 years old. However, this did not immediately change his heart. He often fought with others, insulted the younger children, and had other bad behaviors. He said at the time, what we talked about during our Bible lessons had no meaning for him.
At 13, he decided not to come anymore to the Bible lessons, since they weren’t interesting to him. That entire year, instead of being with us, he spent his time on the street running with a bad crowd. Yet for some reason, there was a longing in his heart and a feeling of discontentment. The next year when he turned 14, he decided to come back to the Bible lessons, and he was a part of the group for older kids that Christina Rudaya leads.
Now things had changed. Gina said from that first lesson, the words he heard touched his heart. He said, “They were supernatural, straight from heaven.” Since then, he not only attended the lessons, but he also began to read the Bible independently. He began to seek God in earnest. Then at one of our summer camps for orphans, he received the Lord into his heart. After graduation, he went to study at the university but was soon drafted into the army. There he encountered wickedness and dishonesty, both from his fellow soldiers as well as from officers. And this began the serious test of his faith.
Gena tried to avoid all sorts of encounters with sinful situations, but once he lost his temper and hit a fellow soldier so hard that he broke the soldier’s jaw. But God had mercy on him. Instead of being court-martialed, his fellow soldiers and officers stood up for him. He asked forgiveness from the one whose jaw he had broken, and they made peace. Ever since then, Gena has openly testified about his faith in Christ. He began to preach among his fellow soldiers and even among the officers. Soon, thanks to his preaching, kind relationships began to develop among his fellow soldiers. The soldiers stopped fighting among themselves. The officers ceased humiliating the soldiers but became like fathers to them. The theft of personal items stopped. A warm, friendly atmosphere developed. When Gena left to go home, many of them thanked him for the position he had taken in life!
Today, Gena is continuing his studies and is even involved in a ministry at one of the churches in the city of Krasnoyarsk. SGA is currently preparing the Christmas program, and Gena is ready to share his testimony with a cynical world. This is just one brief story from among a multitude–a life that was changed because of the preaching of the Gospel. Through your help, God is transforming the lives of many young people, turning them from the path to hell toward the path to eternal life with God.