Service project builds bridges, provides way for children to be adopted.

By August 17, 2005

Russia/USA (MNN) — The sounds of summer filled the backyard of Phil and Audrey Wiltjer’s house. Children laughing, splashing in a pool, sharing food, families talking. It was a sight worth taking in, because most of the children present were not there 4 years ago.

The Wiltjers never imagined that their yearly service project to help fix-up orphanages in Russia would have such an amazing impact. And now, their backyard is filled with families whose lives will never be the same, children whose lives have been changed forever, through adoption.

In 2000, Bethany Christian Services invited the Wiltjers to the small city of Sosnova, Russia, to help in an orphanage that needed a lot of work. That trip began a chain of events that led up to the day in their backyard. The Wiltjer’s daughter and son-in-law adopted a child from the Sosnova orphanage, and that started an exodus of children from Sosnova.

Now, five years later, Phil Wiltjer says, “We now have 11 children here, all out of this orphanage in Sosnova, which is not a big orphanage, only maybe 40-50 kids, and we have them all here in the Greater West Michigan area, which I think is really quite neat that you’ve got 11 kids from an area 7-8 thousand miles away, all winding up in this area. So, we’re quite thrilled about it.”

Audrey Wiltjer says it’s a blessing that the kids are all “growing up in Christian homes. And that’s just a great bonus that this is happening, that they are all in Christian homes and being raised as Christian young people, which would not have happened in Russia.”

The faithfulness of the Wiltjers has reaped great rewards. Each year the teams go into different orphanages to help improve them, and the workers at the orphanage learn from the teams and then implement that learning even after the teams are gone.

Also, Roger Bouwma of Bethany Christian Services says their relationship with the government has been impacted as well. “They say they’re going to do something, and they do it. The government has seen these people are people of their word.”

And they’ve been a testimony for Christ, says Bouwma, “They’ve had neat opportunities to share their faith in a variety of ways over there as well. And I think that what they do stands out from a lot of other people that they see come and go, who come and talk the talk but never walk the walk. And that’s what these people do and that’s what has made a difference in a lot of places over there that we work with.”

“Bethany’s mission is to find families for kids or to improve the conditions where they’re living if we can’t find a family. And I guess what Phil and Audrey do kind of helped us fulfill both of those missions,” says Bouwma.

Jan Layton and her husband John have adopted three children from Sosnova through Bethany, their most recent adoption taking place two months ago. She sees God’s hand behind it all: “The thing that amazes me most is that with all of these 11 children, each one of them has been placed into a family of believers. So you have kids that have come half way around the world and are now in families where they are being taught the Word of God on a daily basis.”

For more information on adoption, contact Bethany Christian Services by clicking on the highlighted link above.

Leave a Reply