Russia (MNN) — The street kid population is growing. In Moscow alone, there are more than 150,000 kids living on the streets. Many like it this way as they're able to make money by begging, stealing, or doing other things. Russian Ministries is helping a ministry reach out to them at Christmas.
The local outreach is minister in the Tulah region of Russia. Nastia has been working with the ministry part time of more than a year. This week, they're holding winter camp. "This camp is for 10 days for children from orphanages and from (the) streets of Moscow."
According to Nastia, winter camp is just the fruit of their work they do the rest of the year. "We find them, we become friends and then we actually invite them to our camp. They might come, they might not. They might promise you to come, but on the day of leaving they will not show up."
While this is good news, Nastia says this one weekend won't necessarily change hearts. "They (may have been) living on the street for five years, so in ten days you will not change this kid. But, he goes back to Moscow and we go back to Moscow and we continue to work with them."
She says getting them to understand God is difficult. "They've been through a lot bad things, starting from abuse from their home and them living on the street. So, sometimes they don't understand that God loves them because if there was God how in the world would He allow this to happen to them."
The ministry was started by Pastor Paul, who says it's not very popular among evangelicals. He says the kids are smelly, they smoke, many of them have horrible values and kids tend to break things. However he is getting some support.
Russian Ministries is just one organization helping. They provided Christmas gifts for the 60 or so kids, plus helped with funding the camp which cost more than $10,000 (usd) to operate.
With HIV/AIDS and drug addiction as an alarming rate in Russia, especially among street kids and orphans, the type of outreach is needed, says Moscow Regional Director Paul Tokorchuk. "I think the most important thing that will change this is the heart change of the person."
If nothing is done, Russia's HIV/AIDS problem could be worse the Africa. To help fund more work, click here.