Latvia (MNN) — The Latvian economy is in a shambles. The unemployment rate has tripled, hitting 22 percent at the start of 2010 before falling back to 16 percent in June. Tax revenues fell 30 percent last year, and government debt is projected to rise. That's forcing government to make tough decisions on pensions and other social programs.
That means orphans and others who are dependent on the government will be struggling in the months ahead.
Orphan Outreach is just starting their work in Latvia to reach out to orphaned children. This week, a team from 91.3 WCSG Radio in West Michigan is there to help the national staff from Orphan Outreach minister in love to the orphans of Latvia.
Executive Director of Cornerstone University Radio Chris Lemke is with the team. "I never would have thought that doing ministry would involve going grocery shopping, going bowling, and hosting a pizza party — all in the context of loving kids."
All of this "ministry" was part of an after-school program that's in desperate need of funding. $2,500 a month is needed to run the program three days a week. That supports 40 kids, three teachers, a cook and all costs associated with running it.
The program provides food, tutors, activities, and most importantly, the Gospel. Lemke says, "There [are] physical needs that must be met, there's no question about that. But [Orphan Outreach] wants to do it in the context of the local church because it's the local church that really makes a difference in these lives."
If funding isn't found for the after-school program, kids will go hungry and the Gospel will be stymied.
In the meantime, teams who visit the poor and orphaned children not only minister to kids, but also the local church. "The church was just so encouraged. It's like, 'Wow, we have people coming from the outside and giving us a hand! People do recognize what we're doing!' And for them, it was just a huge 'shot in the arm.'"
The team is getting ready to head home this weekend. As they do, they have several prayer requests. Pray that people would step up and become monthly financial supporters of the after-school program. More importantly, pray "that these kids would be open to and hear the Gospel and that they'll reach out to Jesus Christ," added Lemke.
If you'd like to help support the after-school program of Orphan Outreach, call our resource line at 800-284-9361, or e-mail us at [email protected]