Russia (MNN) — We asked you to pray alongside SOAR International as they conducted their summer ministries. Now that summer is ending, we wanted to fill you in on how God was working.
Today, we’re going to look at the transition home where three interns spent six weeks teaching English and communication classes. SOAR also taught Bible and life skills classes.
A summer well spent
Three students from Moody Bible Institute volunteered a large portion of their summer to work with kids who had largely given up on doing anything with their lives.
The fact is many orphans in Russia grow up thinking they are worthless. They feel unloved and abandoned. Furthermore, they lack life skills.
The transition home in Ryazan, Russia houses orphans who have aged out of the orphan-care system.
Joanna Mangione of SOAR says, “There’s not a lot of hope in their life. They get out of the orphanage system and most of them, at least the ones that are entering the transition home, are considered disabled — so, unable to get a job. They’re told they don’t have the ability to learn what they need to learn in order to be considered smart.”
These kids have lacked the kind of nurture and care that helps them grow into confident, curious adults. Mangione says many of them leave the orphanage without really understanding basic self-care practices like hygiene.
And worse is the emotional baggage they carry. Many of the kids are social orphans — it means they have either been taken away from their parents or abandoned by them. Most of them have endured abuse. This often leaves them bitter, angry, and frustrated.
“Their instincts, when they’re frustrated or they’re sad, is to lash out in physical violence, which occurs a lot. There are a lot of fist fights in the transition homes,” Mangione says.
She explains the violence, which also occurs in class, was quite shocking for the interns this year. At the beginning, they weren’t sure they could handle it. Even more, the kids had been fed the lie that they couldn’t learn. They believed this lie and regurgitated it.
Mangione says it was important for the team to hold on to the fact they were serving God, and He was in charge of what happened there. All they could do was serve faithfully.
They worked with the kids to help them process and work through their emotions in a healthy manner. By the end, kids weren’t fighting, they discovered they could learn, and they gained a new perspective on their life.
The transition home
This transition home is devoted to helping orphans learn the skills they need to succeed in society. But more importantly, it introduces them to the hope of the Gospel.
“Every kid who comes into the transition home is required to do devotions in the morning and the evening with the entire home. They have to go to church, so they are exposed to the Gospel.”
At the transition home, they learn basic things like hygiene and how to care for others. They are mentored to be aware of and to help people in need, like elderly neighbors.
The community they are in often asks the kids for help with projects. Mangione says this is a confidence builder.
“As they live in the transition home, they start to learn, ‘Okay, I’m worth something, number one, and I have the ability to help and do things. I do have the ability to cook and help others, and I’m appreciated, and I’m not stupid.’”
With the addition of these summer classes, which were supplemented with summer camp activities, they were convinced they actually could learn. Even for those who only learned simple phrases in English, it was an encouragement.
And as they became engaged in the English, communication, and life skills classes, they also engaged in talks about Jesus.
“Even with the Bible classes too, hard questions are being answered with forgiveness,” Mangione says.
They are encouraged each year to go back and see children who were angry and frustrated before now carry the lightness and joy of being a child of God.
Next time, we’ll talk about the English classes they did this summer. In the meantime, could you pray for these kids in the transition home? Ask God to water the spiritual seeds planted this summer. Ask Him to bring people into contact with these kids who will love and disciple them. Also, pray for guidance for SOAR International.