Outreach News -
That the generation to come might know . . .
Orphans & Children
God’s Word tells us of the importance of children in the eyes of God. In Russia and her neighboring countries, generations are growing up with little or no knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ, and reaching them with the Gospel is critical.
Children are the church of tomorrow, and whether it’s through SGA-sponsored summer camps, orphan ministry or Sunday schools, the God-given opportunities to reach them are truly vast.
9 July 2018
When Orphans Ask,
"Why is There So Much Suffering?"
"Why is There So Much Suffering?"
What reason can you give to abandoned children?
- from Ivan Papkov, Smolensk, Russia
"Each Easter Sunday is a wonderful day—especially for orphans. We can discuss what a great act of love God showed on Golgotha when His Son paid the price for our sins. At the orphanage in Smolensk, the Orphans Reborn team had special lessons when they taught the children and their teachers about Easter.
"We wanted them to know that Easter is not about colored eggs or a bunny. We shared the whole story, discussed it together, sang a lot of songs, made some crafts with the small children, and gave them small prizes. We also noticed that the teachers listened especially attentively. It was an important reminder that we are reaching not only the orphans, but the adults who work with them as well.
"The orphan children have many questions and carry much sorrow. For example: 'If God is love, why do people have so many sufferings?' We often hear questions like this from adults, but when a child whose father is in prison and whose mother is an alcoholic asks you this question, it is much more difficult to answer. During the years of our ministry, we have heard this question so many times but it is no easier to hear.
"In that light, this past Easter we decided to discuss the story of Job to show the children that God can turn one’s sufferings into great blessings. And they do not have to feel lonely—because God is near. Again, this was not an easy topic to discuss. But it is vitally important to help these young souls who have gone through such suffering already. Above all, God Himself understands our sufferings...
"'For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings (Hebrews 2:10).'"
Please pray with us that the children will draw close to the Lord as they learn more of His great love. Thank you for your prayerful support of Orphans Reborn!
15 June 2018
Making Memories & Big Decisions
Camps are times for fun,
and also serious reflection
Russia’s Yakutsk region is a land of extremes. Located in the Far East, the republic of Yakutia-Sakha is the world’s coldest place in winter with temperatures plunging to -45C or below.
And yet summers are hot and humid with swarms of mosquitoes! It’s not a place where you’d expect to find a vibrant children’s camp ministry. Yet the local evangelical churches in Yakutsk are undaunted, and the generous support of SGA partners is helping them introduce many young boys and girls to Christ!
Last summer, a children’s ministry team led by Oksana Sivtseva held camp activities in several outlying villages including Mokhsogollokh near the city of Yakutsk. She wrote to tell us that the camp season is eagerly anticipated by both children and adults...
“The local residents know about our church and many of them allow their children to come to the camp—even encouraging it! During the camp session, the children wanted to know more about God, and memorised Bible verses very well. We had the usual games and camp activities, but when we asked the children about their favorite part of camp, many of them answered, ‘Most of all the Bible studies!’ God is at work in these kids! Instead of liking the food or games, they liked God’s Word instead!”
In another village, Oksana said that some local authorities put up obstacles, but the activities went ahead anyway...
“We had received permission from the local administration to hold our camp activities at the central clubhouse in the village. After we had been meeting for three days, the Deputy Principal of the school came to watch the program and to check our documents. Then he just left! The next day, we arrived to find the clubhouse closed and we couldn’t find anyone with the keys.
“We stood there in the street and the children waited so patiently while we tried to find someone. But then a sister in Christ named Margarita—the only believer in this village— invited us to come to her brother’s house and hold the activities for the children. So the enemy was overcome and we succeeded in holding the evangelical program for the children. At the end, the kids didn’t want to leave and stayed playing for some time. We want to continue our ministry there, so please pray for us!”
In Belarus, Pastor Nikolai oversaw several summer camp sessions in the Minsk region. Some 93 percent of the children were from unbelieving families—most of them large, low-income and needy. After the camp sessions, he had parents testify that the children had changed for the better.
One young mother wrote to offer her thanks...
“I’m a mother of six children and we lack money for food. My two children were in the camp, and they’ve changed after learning about God. Sveta received the book ‘A Faith to Grow On’, and Maxim received ‘The Bible Explorer’. My children have begun to help me around the house, they’ve begun to pray and ask me to go to church with them. I couldn’t say no, and we made a commitment to attend. Thanks for helping my children go to camp!”
Over the next two months, please remember to pray for the Lord to open the hearts of the children to the Gospel! Ask Him to do a wonderful work in them, as they make memories and big decisions this year.
19 March 2018
God-Given Escape for Snezhana
Snezhana (with Masha on her lap)
came to an Orphans Reborn centre for help
“I just stayed late for some reason,” says Elena.
“I believe it was the Lord’s doing.”
Late one night in February, a mother and child turned up at SGA’s Orphans Reborn Centre in Krasnoyarsk (Russia) with their bags packed, seeking help. At that time of the day, it was unusual for Elena Liskina to be at the office, yet on this particular day she had stayed back. When she recognised the mother and child as Snezhana and Masha, Elena realised her prayers for them had been answered. Here is Elena’s account...
“Once a fortnight on Wednesdays, we have a group for non-Christian mothers in difficult situations... In the photo, the woman with a child in her arms is Snezhana. She’s 23 years old and was brought to our group by her sister Anzhela, who’s sitting next to her in the picture (a little further). Their mother is an alcoholic who has served several prison sentences. The girls lived for awhile with their grandmother but ended up in an orphanage. When Snezhana graduated from the orphanage, she got pregnant and had a child – but she doesn’t live with the father. She moved in with another man who began mistreating her and Masha, her one year old daughter. After several occasions where he beat Snezhana, Anzhela brought her to me and asked if I would talk to her.
“Snezhana said she had never thought about God and that she realised her situation was bad. I suggested Snezhana leave her partner and move back to her grandmother’s place. But Snezhana was afraid he wouldn’t let her go. I began to pray for her. A few days later, she came to the Centre with her daughter and bags - it was quite late. She asked me to take them to her grandmother’s house, and so I took them there. Her partner had allowed her to go, and I told Snezhana that it was the Lord’s way of protecting her so she could get out. Snezhana now attends our group. She has many questions about God, and I’m very glad! I hope the Lord heals her wounded heart.”
Snezhana’s situation illustrates how easy it is for graduated orphans to get into trouble after they leave institutionalised care. It’s a rough world for these young adults who have to fend for themselves. That’s why SGA facilitates orphanage visits and post-orphanage support. God wants to relieve the suffering of these abandoned children and offer them new life in Him.
Through your sponsorship, workers are on the ground helping those in trouble - one life at a time. There are many like Snezhana whose journey we hope to intercept with the life-changing power of God’s Word. Your sacrificial giving is used by God to rescue souls for eternity! Please pray for Elena, Snezhana, Masha and Anzhela.
08 February 2018
3 Touching Stories: Orphans in Smolensk
Ivan Papkov with Ilya & Veronica
From Ivan Papkov - Smolensk, Russia
Ilya and Veronica and siblings. They grew up in the Demidov orphanage. We knew them all the way from Grade 1 to Graduation. Ilya has always been very short but impossible to miss. He was the most active, communicative child in the orphanage! Even during our lessons, he asked a lot of questions and was the first to answer ours.
Now, both of them have graduated from the orphanage. Ilya is now 22. He got married and goes to church every week. He doesn’t live near us in Smolensk, but we met him recently at a Christian wedding that took place in our church. His wife is also a committed Christian, but his sister Veronica is still doubting. She’s interested in God, but isn’t close to Him yet. We are praying for them. Ilya told me that a lot of his classmates from the orphanage are alcoholics or in prison now. He said he didn’t want to go the same way, so he chose another way – to follow God.
Nastya, baby Sophia & Ivan Papkov
From Andrei Chernish – Smolensk, Russia
We have been working in the orphanages for over 15 years, and the children with whom we began our ministry are already adults! We try to keep in touch with them after they graduate and find some of them happily married with their own families, whereas others repeating the mistakes of their parents.
I want to tell you about one girl, Nastya. After graduating from the orphanage, she went to college and finished it. Then she got married and everything seemed to be wonderful... and then she got pregnant. Her young husband said he wasn’t ready for a child and left his pregnant wife. Nastya is an absolute orphan, she has no relatives whatsoever. She shares an apartment with one of her orphanage-friends who shares the rent and helps look after her little daughter Sophia. My wife and I came to visit her recently. We brought a lot of different foods and had a good time of fellowship over tea and cookies. We discussed life, reminded Nastya about God and invited her to church. She has nobody to turn to for advice so we helped as much as possible.
(L-R) Peter, OR-Worker Nina, Ilya & Artyom
From Olya Ignatenkova – Smolensk, Russia.
I want to share the touching story of one boy – Peter. In the picture this boy is standing with his friends and Nina from our team. During the lesson she asked each of them to write down their biggest dream, in order for them to be read out and discussed. This boy, Peter, was being very naughty, not listening and distracting others. When it came time to hand in their notes, he wouldn’t allow his to be read. Peter’s 2 best friends had their dreams read out: Ilya’s dream was for a plane, car and helicopter, because they would make him powerful. Artyom’s dream was to have $1,000 so he could buy everything.
After everyone’s dreams were read, Peter gave permission for Nina to read his, but to expect everyone to laugh. Nina opened his note - there was just one word, Mummy. Nobody was laughing, but Peter was crying. He said how much he misses her, how much he wants her to become normal, to stop drinking alcohol and take him home. All the children felt sympathy and wanted to support him. Nina told them they can pray together for Peter’s mum... If you want to accompany us in this prayer, you are welcome. God is good.
12 January 2018
"Father of Four Adopts Seven More"
Pastor Vladimir and his wife Nadezhda are shown
here with their 11 children and other relations
“I want to ask your forgiveness for not writing earlier. I had planned and planned to... there is always something to do!” Coming from a man with 11 children, it’s no surprise he’s too busy to sit down and write a letter! “It’s not because there’s nothing to write about – just the opposite! There’s so much to tell you! I’ve been asking myself how to write about everything and keep it brief and to the point!”
We’d like to introduce to you Vladimir Egorov, an SGA-sponsored pastor living in the Ivanovo-Vladidimir Oblast in Russia. Vladimir is the pastor of a small church, and his wife Nadezhda has been an Orphans Reborn worker for many years.
When there were ten
Our board was asked to help this family in 2016 when SGA’s Children’s Ministry Coordinator Lana wrote, “after so many years of OR ministry they have decided to adopt six orphaned children, though they have four of their own.” This was before they adopted a seventh child – one with Down’s Syndrome. “They live in the village, and every Sunday, to bring all their children to the church, Vladimir Egorov has to make a few trips back and forth in order that they all can be in the church for Sunday service on time. They have an old and very small car, but they need a newer van,” she said.
On top of this, Vladimir was laid off from his secular job and the church was too poor to support him financially. SGA gave funds for a used vehicle and committed to 12 months of financial support. Vladimir recently wrote in more detail about the children he adopted. What an amazing family!
God provided a van through our ministry
“In 2012, two brothers joined our family. Sasha and Yuri. They had a difficult childhood and their parents lost custody of them due to neglect and alcoholism.” Vladimir said Sasha is now 20 years old and a qualified auto-mechanic. Yuri is 17 and training as a chef. He was baptised last year and is involved with evangelistic outreaches.
Sasha and Yuri
“In 2013, Ilya came to live with us. He’s 14 years old. The foster care system took him from his family because his parents drank. He lived in an orphanage for a year and waited for his mother to come and get him, but she didn’t come. This is how he wound up with us.” The family found Ilya quite chatty, and also very curious about the Bible. “Three years ago, when we were discussing repentance before the Lord, Ilya left the house and went outside. When he returned, he announced with a smile on his face, that he had repented.” These days, Ilya goes with Vladimir to visit the small house-churches in Sudogde and Suzdal.
“Maxim, Alyosha and Olya are biological brothers and sister. They have lived with us since June of 2013. They were at the children’s home since 2009 when their mother delivered them there. She promised to come and get them later, but never came.” Maxim is now 17 and studying aviation so he can become a rescuer. Alyosha is 16 and training to as a furniture craftsman. The youngest, Olya, is now 14. “She loves to help the teachers in Sunday School and especially helps with lessons for the little ones. The children in the church really love her.”
Maxim, Alyosha and Olya
Most recently, Vladimir and Nadezhda took on a 7th foster child, Sophia. “She has Down’s Syndrome, but this hasn’t discouraged us one bit! Just the opposite. This girl is always happy and pleased with everything,” says Vladimir. “She never gets offended and never offends anyone. She is always friendly and sociable.” Other than a few simple words, she can’t speak, but she understands a lot.
Vladimir’s pleased to give the orphans an opportunity to know God... “Praise God, we don’t have to force even one of the children to go to church... Practically every evening, our entire family reads the Bible together, along with Christian stories, and we sing and talk. All of the children really enjoy this time. Of course, not everything goes as smoothly as we would like. For example, four of the children are adolescents and are re-evaluating their lives. However the Lord is helping us not to despair or lose heart, but to give everything over to His will.”
The generous couple are praying that each one will make a personal decision for Christ... “Praise God for every child He’s given us to raise... We’re praying they’ll all become Christians.”
SGA is supporting this family out of general funds. You can become personally involved in Vladimir and Nadezhda’s ministry by becoming a sponsor. Perhaps your church or Bible Study would be interested in supporting this courageous couple. In any case, your prayers for them will most certainly be appreciated. Praise God that these unwanted children have been placed in a loving home, one in which they can learn how to be reconciled with their Heavenly Father.
11 January 2018
"Nikita and Ivan: Two Former Delinquents"
39 delinquent boys were blessed with the opportunity
to have fun and hear of God's love for them
From Oleg Bobkin , SGA-Sponsored Missionary Pastor in Voronezh, Russia...
Recently, the Lord enabled us to have a five-day camp for orphan boys from a local school for juvenile delinquents who are between 10-14 years of age.
My three teenage sons worked with me in the camp. There were 39 boys in all, and many of them decided to repent, trust in Christ, and live a Christian life at the end of the camp. Our time included worship services, alongside activities like soccer, volleyball, craft lessons, art, a hike, visiting an Ice Palace, a museum, a Park of Dinosaurs and finally a boat trip. We had a great time and became friends with many of these children. A couple of the boys were willing to share their testimonies . . .
Nikita Kozyrev (age 12)
"I was put into this specialized school because I drank alcohol, smoked, and stole money. When I first got there, I was in quarantine. Oleg visited me and told me about God, and how He loves me. I decided to ask God to forgive me. I prayed together with Oleg and asked God to forgive me of my sins. When I was in the camp, I saw Oleg and his children and how he loves children and all people. I want to serve people too in the future, who have no hope and who will only find peace in God. I read the Gospel daily and pray and ask God to help me to become a good person. When I call my relatives, I tell them now about God and how they can be saved. Thank you for everything you do!"
Ivan from Vorkuta (age 13)
"When I was 8, my father and mother were sent to prison. I lived with my grandmother for 3 years. When Babushka died, my aunty took me to her home. I lived the way I wanted to and listened to no one. When my mother was released, she took me back home but she didn't want me. She had a man living with her and they lived their own way. I spent a lot of time on the streets. I smoked, drank alcohol, stole things, and robbed people. I committed a serious crime and was sentenced to 3 years at the reform school.
"I was thinking about my life and how it was when I was free, when God touched my heart at one of the camp services. I came up to Oleg, and told him I decided to repent and live the Christian way of life. Now I read the Bible daily, and pray for my parents and relatives who live without Christ. I don't miss any of the services. I have come to know many interesting and useful things through that Christian camp. I thank God and all those who make it possible to have such camps and help children like me, whom no one wants."
Glory to God for reforming the lives of these two boys! He has taken their hearts of stone and given them hearts of flesh (Eze 36:26). And thank you for your prayers and support of our ministry. Please pray for these children, and all the others who have come to faith in Jesus.
02 December 2017
"God Sent You to Us!"
– Door Opened Through Puppet Show
– Door Opened Through Puppet Show
The history of Christ's birth is taught with puppets
Last year Vadim, an SGA-supported pastor in Ukraine, was surprised when his offer of a puppet show was turned down by the local school in Kompanievka. He appealed to a higher official - but without success. Confused and disappointed, he then began the journey home. “I was wondering why God didn’t open the door for evangelism in Kompanievka – because we had done so much work there. But as I passed the road to Marievka, it came to mind that I should go to the school there.”
Vadim says he felt the Lord speaking to his heart, “You’ve been going to Kompanievka for 10 years, and you have never been to Marievka!” Arriving at the school, Vadim was directed to enter by the back door, where he encountered one of the staff in the corridor... “When I told her I wanted to bring a puppet theatre to the school, she clapped her hands and said, ‘God sent you to us!’”
Vadim was astounded and asked how she knew God had sent him. She recounted that a secular puppet theatre had recently cancelled their visit and there was great disappointment. The principal was rushed in and - eager for the show - asked about the cost. “I told her there was no cost, and that we would even bring gifts for the children!” Two days later, Vadim’s team presented the Natvity to the whole school. There were games and contests; and gifts were then distributed. As a result 60 children and 10 adults heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ that day.
And this is not the end of the story... because a new door was opened to reaching needy families in the area. The principal told Vadim about the very poor families in the local area. She took him to the village administrator and a list was given to him of the neediest households. Grasping the opportunity, Vadim’s team gathered humanitarian items and visited each family with Christmas greetings and a token of love. They found several families open to hearing the Word of God. “Sometimes, God closes the door in one place to open it in another!” he said. Please pray for the continuing ministry to poor families in Marievka, and consider giving towards Christmas outreaches for this coming season. The churches are already planning!
(see article 'That None Should Perish' for an account of the outreach to poor families)
12 October 2017
Mlachevka "Congregation of Children"
Sunday morning is a highlight of the week
It’s Sunday morning in Mlachevka, a village close to Chernobyl. Life here is extremely difficult. Most children are raised by a single mother and most of these mothers are suffering from poverty, drinking or a combination of several problems. But it’s a happy day for the children because Pastor Nickolai will conduct a church service today.
The children of this village evoked the compassion of SGA’s representative Eric, when he visited on behalf of the mission. “It was heartbreaking to see that many of the children were dirty. Several had bruises from apparent abuse and all of them were desperate for attention,” he said.
By God’s grace, and through the efforts of Pastor Yaroslav Machinsky, a church was planted here several years ago. SGA partners helped by supporting Summer Camps, Christmas Outreach and Compassion Ministries. And now, for most of the village children, the church service is the greatest time of joy for them through the week. “They arrive early and stay for quite some time,” said Eric. “For our visit, the word was out that we would meet on Thursday, and the room was full! It was a sweet time of hearing these kids sing to the Lord in praise.”
It’s a real blessing for the local community that Pastor Nickolai and his wife Maria are amongst them. Especially when the school bus doesn’t show up, either because it was snowed in or because the driver was too drunk. When this happens, the children gather at the church for warmth and Maria teaches the class. In fact, on several occasions, she called the teacher to gain instruction on what to teach. “Without this missionary-pastor and his wife, these children would have no hope,” said Eric.
Praise God, He has His hand on this little village and has raised up a faithful servant to love the children, proclaim the Gospel and make disciples. Please pray for Nickolai and Maria, as well as for these dear children.
03 October 2017
Disasters Overcome at Camps
Damage to campsites in Russia (L) and Belarus (R)
As summer is has come to a close in the northern hemisphere, information is coming in from various places about the evangelical summer camps that were held. These are known locally as ‘Vacation Bible Schools’ (VBS) and also ‘Summer Camps’. Here are some of the latest reports...
RussiaAs the summer holidays approach, evangelical churches in the former Soviet Union start making preparations for camp season. If the church has its own campsite, volunteers will usually prepare it by tidying up, making repairs and doing renovations.
This year, Pastor Konstantin’s church had a difficult time preparing the campsite as one thing after another went wrong... “A not-so-happy sight met us at our campsite after the winter in April – when we finally managed to go there after a period of bad weather. Our purpose was to check out the property and outline the work for the upcoming camp season. Earlier, we had laid foundations for another children’s dormitory so we could accommodate more children into each shift, and we were hoping to get the building ready before summer.”
The team discovered that wild storms had damaged the property, “There were delays to our construction because some of the old building had to be dismantled after the storm.” To make matters worse, a water-pipe broke in the church, flooded the building and running down into the cellar. The pastor had to call back the volunteers so they could address the flooding problem - as it was interrupting church services and other ministries. “After spending three weeks on replacing pipes, our preparations were resumed and we set about reconstructing the dining-hall. With God’s help, and through the contribution of church members, we were able to do all the necessary work before the camp shifts started.”
BelarusI am Pastor Alexander in Belarus. During June, we hold a tent camp. This year—as in every year—we were getting ready and praying about it. Then the unexpected happened. The sauna, barn, and garage burned down late in the evening, and the next morning we were supposed to set up the camp. All the camp equipment was stored in the garage including sleeping bags, mattresses, tents, an electric generator, and a trampoline. We managed to save only 15 sleeping bags out of 104 tents.
Somebody asked me if we would still have the camp and I responded in the negative. Nevertheless, the Lord had other plans in mind. On the second day after I had coped with the initial shock, I felt worn out. I was looking for an answer from the Lord about what needed to be done. All the kids knew the camp was coming. When they called me, I was not able to tell them that we would not have any camp. I asked them to call me later. Our team discussed what we should do. I thank the Lord for the moment when everybody was free to express his or her opinion. In all of this, I realized what needed to be done. Everybody agreed that we should have the camp even in spite of the big loss. We prayed and got on the phone to ask everybody we knew to give us at least sleeping bags and tents.
The Lord always provides more than we ask for. I thank the Lord for all the brothers and sisters who stretched out their helping hands. I thank God for Peter Konstantinovich (director of SGA’s Minsk Regional Ministry Center) in particular, since he and his sons brought some ground cloths, a trampoline, and other equipment. I thank the Lord that he led us out of our trial. In spite of our big loss, we fulfilled God’s will, so that children and teenagers could come to our camp and hear the Good News about our Lord. We had 75 kids at children’s camp. The teenage camp had 40 people. Praise the Lord for everything He sends us in life!
25 September 2017
Lost on Roadside, Found by God
SGA-supported Vasily Kuretz found
two children on the side of a road
SGA’s Eric Mock recently visited Belarus and missionary pastor Vasily Kuretz, who shared a wonderful story that actually began seven years ago...
Vasily was driving to the city of Logoysk when a couple on the side of the road flagged him down. He noticed that there were two young children with them—a boy about six and a young girl who appeared to be about four. They had been wandering in the forest along the road and this couple had stopped out of concern. The children pleaded with Vasily to take them to Logoysk to find their parents. Vasily readily agreed. When they arrived in Logoysk, the kids could only say that they lived where the road is wide and full of holes. Vasily then asked if the children knew where their father worked. Again, they replied yes, and that he worked at a place with a large, green metal gate. Vasily kept driving and finally, the kids recognized a business where a friend of their parents worked. He was able to leave these lost children with the friend, who assured him the children would get back to their parents.
After some time had passed, Vasily became a missionary pastor in Logoysk. He began his ministry at a transition home, where recently orphaned children are sent before being assigned to an orphanage. As Vasily visited, he noticed that there was one boy who kept following him around. Finally, he stopped and asked the boy why he was following him. The boy responded, “Don’t you remember me? You picked up my sister and me in the forest and took us home.” Vasily then found out that the parents had split up, and did not want their children.
God had provided a sweet and caring face for these dear kids to meet again—as if by chance on the side of the highway, and then—amazingly—at the very children’s facility where Vasily would be ministering! Vasily began sharing the Gospel with this young boy and his sister. They both asked immediately if they could attend the local Baptist church to learn more. But before long, they were transferred to an orphanage. He has not seen these children for a while, but he asks that we join him in prayer that their hearts will turn to the Lord. Vasily is supported in his efforts by the SGA-sponsored Orphans Reborn ministry, and he says this support is vital for his work among these children.
23 June 2017
Abused Orphan’s Encounter with God
Valeria, 10 yrs old, had a nervous breakdown
This true account of an orphan’s miraculous healing and conversion comes from Polina Kozlova, an SGA-Sponsored Orphans Reborn worker in Russia...
“Valeria is only 10, and on first sight she seems to be a normal child in this orphanage but she wasn't always so well. She was transferred four years ago from another orphanage that the authorities closed down due to some criminal issues. Valeria had been abused, which probably contributed to her behavior being so unruly—to the point that all the teachers could do was leave her alone.
“The first year she was at our orphanage, Valeria did not come to our lessons very often. When she did come, she would sit quietly in a corner, with her arms closed, and sway from side to side. It was a very sad picture and I began to pray for her.”
After Polina started praying for the traumatised girl, Valeria, she started noticing a change...
“One day, I had a very pleasant surprise! When our Bible lesson was over, Valeria came to me and said that she had something important to tell me. Quietly, she began to speak. ‘I try to read the Bible very often because I need to know the way I need to live. Since I invited Christ into my heart, I need to know more of how to please Him and not to sadden Him with my sins. He healed me. I had a nervous breakdown and I asked Him to heal me, and He helped, and now I am healed.’”
Polina was amazed, and asked Valeria when all of this had happened, and who helped her to come to Christ? Somewhat puzzled, Valeria replied,“I was just reading the Bible and it became clear to me. I realized what I needed to do. Do I need someone’s help to turn to God?”
Of course, the answer to her question was no, but how wonderful to hear that a child was able to come to the point of understanding such a serious decision. God really can do anything without external help! He can accomplish His work in the hearts of sinners, and it does not matter the age. So Polina has asked us to pray...
“Friends, I beg you to pray for Valeria, asking that God will strengthen her faith and keep the fire burning in her heart, as well as grant her continuous assurance in Christ. Today I can see the changes in her life, and the teacher also witnesses about it. This brings joy to our hearts, and gives us understanding that our labor in Christ is not in vain!”
13 June 2017
Belarus Transitions to Foster Care
Behind the smiles,
these children often have pain in their hearts
Pastor Pavel in Belarussia wrote to us about a recent government decision to transition orphans from institutions and into foster homes. The churches are now adjusting the way they will care for these needy children.
The plan is to encourage church families to open their homes to foster children… “We are so thankful for such a wonderful response!”, he said. “One mother, Tatiana, has already begun the process of registering for foster care! She is planning to take into her home, two little girls from the orphanage. We have met these two girls - they spend a lot of time together!”
Even the pastor and his wife are considering opening their home… “Our family is also in the process of making a decision whether to take an orphan child into our family. We pray and ask for God’s wisdom and also ask Him to help us improve our living conditions.” In the meantime, orphans visit the church on Sundays… “Our greatest joy is to see them. They listen to sermons and songs, and build relationships with their peers in the church.”
Pastor Pavel would like all believers to pray for: Tatiana, and also Pavel and Margarita, who are preparing to become foster carers; and a certain orphan, Alexandra, who is having trouble accepting the recent death of her estranged mother.
07 June 2017
Reaching the Orphans of Russia’s Far East
Pastor Sergei’s genuine love and care brings great comfort to many lonely children.
They eagerly await his visits.
Life in Far East Russia is challenging. The winters are bitterly cold, with temperatures often dropping to 40° below zero. Living conditions are harsh and take their toll notably on families. The divorce rate is double that of the United States. In fact, the Far-East regions of Magadan and the Jewish Autonomous Oblast (Birobidzhan) are ahead of the rest of Russia in alcohol consumption. An estimated 2/3 of all violent crimes in Russia are alcohol-related.
Living under such conditions it is the children who suffer the most. They are neglected, abused, with many becoming wards of the state and often following the pattern lived out before them by their parents. These children are scattered across this vast region and live in 334 state-run orphanages. However, nearly 70% of children in Russian orphanages have a living parent or guardian.
With broken hearts, these children suffer daily with growing hopelessness, as they look for their parents to come and take them home—and sadly the parents never come. When Christian workers come to visit the orphanages the children crowd around just for a chance to hold a hand or get a hug. For these dear ones in the Far East, hope is even harder to find. If being an orphan is not difficult enough, a majority of them have never heard the Gospel, nor have they been told of the hope we have in Jesus.
Through our Orphans Reborn ministry SGA has been helping amazing Bible-teaching local churches reach out to orphans. We hear of orphans coming to faith and being totally transformed by God’s grace. We know of many who have been saved, and after reaching young adulthood, have continued on as part of Orphans Reborn teams themselves. They are keen to reach younger orphans for Christ – just as they were reached.
In Birobidzhan the orphans in this tiny remote region were hearing the Gospel and being discipled monthly. They were turning to Jesus and finding lasting hope where there was previously none. Then suddenly, the door to the orphanage tragically closed. This was the only ministry to orphans in Russia’s Far East. However, under the new Reach Russia Now initiative, we pray this will soon dramatically change! Although there are currently only 65 evangelical churches across this vast region of 6.3 million people, many of them are located near orphanages.
So much more can be done to help the fatherless in the Far East of Russia, and to comfort their broken hearts. Today there are churches in four key regions of the Far East ready to establish regular visits each month to these nine orphanages, and even double the number of orphanages they are reaching. Yet even this falls short of the need!
Will you join with us in both seeing more churches planted through our Reach Russia Now initiative and more orphan children reached with the Gospel through Orphans Reborn? These children are crying out for hope, a hope that only our Lord can truly provide.
13 February 2017
Siversk Orphanage - Access Denied
Orphans need to hear the truth about God
Part of SGA’s mission is to support local believers as they bring the good news of God’s love and saving power into orphanages.
And with over 2,000 orphanages in the CIS it’s a huge task. A number of Orphans Reborn (O.R.) teams work in designated regions to visit as many orphanages as they can. There has been much success over the years and many graduated* orphans testify of how they came to know their Heavenly Father and overcame despair and loneliness.
Even orphanage staff have come to approve O.R. visits, as they witnessed the effect it had on the children. Yet, spiritual darkness is casting its shadow over these lands again. All forms of Christian evangelism are now prohibited in Russia - so taking the Word of God into orphanages has become illegal under anti-terrorism legislation. Orphanage Directors are getting edgy about letting religious groups continue their regular visits.
In the case of Siversk Orphanage, 15 years of opportunity was recently ended. “At the end of November, the director of this facility called and informed us that we are not allowed to come to their orphanage anymore”, wrote Irina, O.R. Coordinator in St. Petersburg. “The Committee on Education has banned all religious workers from doing any activities.”
On hearing the announcement, orphanage staff were displeased…. “The teachers pleaded with their Director, but without any success”, she said. “The Deputy Principle even volunteered to take responsibility, but the Director was still opposed as she’s afraid to lose her job.”
Since that day, the O.R team have made further attempts to gain access, but every time the answer was “no”. It seems the door has been firmly shut. “We set our hopes only on God, because He can close the door, and He can open it. We are thankful to God for those 15 years, when the doors of this orphanage were open to us”, said Irina. Please pray over the growing issue of religious-restriction in Russia.
Anti-Missionary Law: Download PDF (1.0 MB)
* N.B. 'graduated orphans' are those that have come of age and left institutional care
07 October 2016
Jesus Loves the Little Orphans!
Pray for the orphans of Central Asia
- particulary young believers -
Imagine being an Christian orphan, living in a Muslim country. The pastor of an SGA-supported church in Central Asia has written about their recent Summer Bible Camp for orphans....
"In the orphanage they come from, there is a very active Islamic group working among the kids. Every week, some Arabs come there to teach the kids the Quran and they are telling the children to avoid associating with Christians."
Prior to this, the church had built many relationships with the orphans, even seeing some of them come to faith. The team had a regular arrangement of visiting the orphanage to read the Bible and pray with the children. This has now been stopped.
"Children who want to live for Jesus have been forbidden to talk about it, and they are disciplined if they share their faith. During the camp, one of the fathers* even came and took his daughter home by force because he did not want her to be at a Christian camp. She had already accepted Jesus in her heart as her Saviour and she was devastated at being forcibly removed."
The camp director said, that children who make a decision for Christ at camp will experience great difficulties when the return to the orphanage. For example, one orphan girl who had been to Christian camps over the years finally committed her life to Christ and received a New Testament. But when she returned to the orphanage, her New Testament was confiscated, torn up and thrown away. Now, all she can do is pray regularly and depend on God's help.
"We have many children in the orphanages who are believers but have absolutely no opportunity for fellowship... yet they remain faithful to the Lord and their decision to live for Him."
The Central Asian churches will continue to share the Gospel with orphans as much as they can, confident that God knows about each one of the precious children and trusting that He will bring to completion the work He has begun in their young lives.
Pease pray for the orphans of Central Asia - particulary young believers.
*NB. Some orphans are "social orphans" meaning they are abandoned by parents or taken away by authorities. It is this type of "orphan" whose father forcibly removed the child from camp.
15 September 2016
Pastor Amazed at Response to Altar Call
Pray that these children will not
fall away from their new faith
From 14 to 18 August 2016, Summer Bible School was hosted in a small House of Prayer in Shereshevo, Belarus. Pruzhany Baptist Pastor, Valery Ohrimuk, sent us a report...
“About 30 local children came, aged 4-17. There was a great mixture of children present. Some had only a grandmother to look after them; some were from large low-income families and some were descendents of Chernobyl victims. Ninety-five percent of them were non-believers.
“I became suspicious when I saw a certain young man, Andrew arrive, because I knew he had always pressured other kids to avoid our Baptist church. I was happy to see him, but at the same time, I thought it could be some kind of dirty trick on his part. Thankfully, Andrew kept coming every day and without any tricks!
“I had been worried about the success of the camp, because the local Orthodox priest had forbidden parents from allowing their children to attend anything to do with our Baptist church. Thank God! They not only came, but also responded enthusiastically to the call of repentance – almost the whole camp! At first, I wondered why so many of the campers came forward at the invitation. Perhaps they thought I was offering a prize or a treat! So, I explained the call to surrender and asked anyone to go back if they had come for any other reason. Several went back to sit down, but the majority confirmed their desire to turn to Christ!
“When I looked at them all, I was amazed by God’s wonderful grace! I, who had been worried no one would come, was seeing such an overwhelming response! Praise God!”
19 August 2016
Baptist Union Suffers its First Shutdown Under New Law - Russia
Pray for God’s protection over
UECB camps that are still in progress
We have received word from the Russian Baptist Union that one of their summer camp ministries in the Yamal region was shut down by the local Department of Public Safety. Local media reports that the new anti-missionary law was cited as grounds for the closure in addition to alleged “violations of safety regulations.”
An official named Isaev Rostislav told the TV reporters . . . “In this case, missionary activity was being conducted with violations of the established order.” The report further said that the prosecutor’s office in Noyabrsk instituted administrative proceedings under the law, and that the director of the camp was fined 5,000 rubles. This is the first instance of which we are aware that the new anti-missionary law has been cited in shutting down a ministry of the registered Union of Evangelical Christians-Baptists (UECB).
Pastor Eugene Bakhmutsky, a former vice president of the Russian UECB and pastor of Russian Bible Church, wrote to tell us that the situation is not good, but it could have been much worse.
"Our camps have always had official police protection, a health care worker, first aid, medical permission for all of the personnel, permission from the sanitation and epidemiological departments, as well as the firefighter’s department, etc. They have always shown positive video reports about us on local television. Even now in Kemerovo and Novosibirsk, we have maintained our good reputation among the supervisory authorities. This situation means that we will have to be especially thorough as we organise the camps to be sure we are meeting all requirements.”
There are only a few short weeks left in Russia’s summer camp season. Please join us in praying for the protection of the remaining camp sessions, and that many children will be drawn to saving faith in Christ. And please continue to pray that this law will not be rigidly enforced, and allowed to hinder Gospel ministry.
10 August 2016
Faithful Church Workers Ministering Today in the Zone
The Orphans Reborn team regularly visits the Vovchik orphanage in the Chernobyl zone. They bring the message of the Gospel, as well as vitamins, fruit, and other treats
The Orphans Reborn team, sent by Pastor Yaroslav Machinsky’s church near Kiev, is working with about 15 children in the exclusion zone village of Vovchik. In addition to the regular visits, Bible studies and worship services for the children, the team distributes fruit, vitamins, occasional clothing and other items. SGA helped distribute shoes for every child in the Vovchik orphanage and even the village itself.
SGA-sponsored Orphans Reborn teams also visit 40-45 “social orphans” in the town of Mlachivka. These are children who live in dysfunctional homes where their caregivers are alcoholics or have other serious problems. One of the key coordinators is a young man named Grigory Karpov. He was brought up in an orphanage himself, and along with his wife Dasha carries on the regular ministry at Vovchik and Mlachivka. Grigory says that his own background as an orphan helps him relate to them. The children all love him, and know that he cares for them with the love of Christ.
They are also operating a transitional facility for teens that are graduating from the orphanage and must enter life in the outside world. This helps them adjust, offering help with paperwork, supplies, cooking, and other skills, in addition to discipling them and maintaining on-going contact with the young people.
Another vitally important outreach that is outside the exclusion zone is the Little Pearl Diagnostic Camp located near Kobrin, a town in eastern Belarus near the Polish border. Children who live in areas contaminated with residual Chernobyl radiation come to the camp, mostly in summer, and receive diagnostic tests, limited treatment, and a rest time away from the environment.
Thank you for the part you play in helping the Orphans Reborn teams share the Gospel in the Chernobyl zone! Please remember to pray for workers and for the children as they hear of Jesus’ love for them.