Each country has its own set of challenges when it comes to missions. Russia is no exception, with unusual amounts of red tape. A private Christian orphanage in Russia would not be possible or allowed by law. We believe the most effective way to help orphans in Russia is to equip Christian parents in Russia to care for abandoned children. This is accomplished by providing encouragement, housing, and financial support ranging from monthly support to one time gifts. For ten years, we have watched child after child come into one of the homes and be changed by the love that the house parents have shown. This summer we witnessed the baptism of two of the first girls that came to the homes!
We believe that placing a child in a home setting will produce the best long-term results. The emotions of a child coming from a government institution into the family setting at one of the HFL homes can be overwhelming! Their stories all start out differently – from being told to go eat out of the dogs dish, being burned by hot water, being born in prison, witnessing your mother’s murder – the heartbreaking stories go on and on.
While each story begins differently, once in an HFL home each child will soon begin to experience a love that only God could pour on them – a love that cares for their needs, introduces them to the greatest love of all, listens to their dreams, and gives each one a chance to become a part of God’s family. The family was established by God himself! The uniqueness of the HFL homes is that, collectively, God’s people give of their time and talent to provide a home setting for those who have no home.
Orphan care is a part of our ministry that reaches out to the many orphans that are in the institutional orphanages in Russia. We have been able to establish relationships with these orphans through visits by our field director and members of the local church. We minister to them through multiple methods, one of them being Christian Summer Camps.
Many orphans are given an opportunity to attend a 12-day summer camp that is operated by the local churches. Over the years, we have seen hundreds of orphans come to Christ! Many of them are being discipled and are now sharing their faith with others and leading them to Christ as well!
Yuriy (pictured here) found himself at camp by God’s will when the orphanage administration replaced another child with him. He had never shown any interest in the Creator during church programs led by our field director. But the knowledge of God he received at the camp absolutely fascinated him! He asked for a Bible and later said that he has many questions on the book of Revelations that he will ask the pastor. Pray for him as he begins his faith journey.
Unfortunately, the Russian government has just passed a law that has made it illegal to share your faith in a home or public setting. Only time will tell how this law will affect the believers in Russia, but there is no doubt it leads the way for the government to make things very difficult for our house parents. Please pray for our parents and the children in their care.
Tanya, Daniel, and Lera are a sibling group now all living together in a Hope for Life home. Tanya was almost six and Daniel was eleven months old when their mother left their home to go out drinking and never came back. Tanya took care of her brother until they ran out of food in the house. They then took to the streets to beg. When authorities found them, they were taken to different orphanages. Thankfully, both were later taken in by the house parents at HFL. Lera was born in prison, and her mother abandoned her as soon as she was released. She too was taken into the same HFL home. Reunited, the siblings now have a loving and stable family. Though they still face emotional and physical challenges, they are thriving under the care of their new parents.
By Jeff Ballard, Hope for Life Homes