Friday, December 5, 2008

Of Orphans and Widows.....

I have just received this ministry newsletter from a friend of mine who runs a Christian orphanage aid program in Eastern Europe. "Elena" (not her real name) lives and serves in a country where Christians are currentlybeing severely persecuted. The government of her country (which I will not name, but it starts with "B", is not Bulgaria, and is located just north of Ukraine....take THAT, search engines!) is trying to stop her ministry and prevent the orphans from attending church or having anything to do with the mission.

I have removed all references to the ministry name or names of towns/villages in "Elena's" ministry report, for her own protection. Her e-mail and phone lines are being monitored, and as she alludes to in the last paragraph, they are holding on and struggling to continue to operate legally.

There are currently 36,000 orphans in the country, but international adoptions are banned. A common misconception is that these millions of orphans and abandoned children around the world are available to be adopted by loving, but childless Americans. The truth is, it is almost impossible to adopt orphans from these dilapitated institutions, even in cases where the childrens' birth parents have signed away their rights. Logically, it would seem that trying to adopt would be the best way to help one of these children who desperately needs to know love. However, the sad fact is that only a very tiny percentage of international adoptions are approved. In Eastern Europe, the process is especially mired in corruption and bureaucracy. Put it this way: if you are considering international adoption due to infertility, your odds of having a child through IVF are roughly 6 times HIGHER than they are of bringing home a child from overseas.

Nevertheless, there are other great ways to help institutionalized children in virtually every corner of the world. The most effective way of helping these kids, both materially and spiritually, is by supporting a Christian orphanage ministry that operates within the country. They are usually run by dedicated, Christ-centered volunteers who pour themselves out into teaching and discipling these kids. Since I personally know the head of the small ministry featured today (it's basically a two-woman project with an account overseen in the States), I can vouch for the honesty, hard work, dedication, and agape love that they lavish on the 6 orphanages where they minister. They bring the kids food, shampoo, clothing and soap, as well as run Bible studies, Christian camps (staffed by national volunteers, since missionaries are now banned from the country), teach them life skills and organize Christmas parties at each of the orphanages. The goal is that each orphan will receive a gift for Christmas. If you would like to help make that a reality, please leave me a comment in the combox and I will give you more information.

"Elena" is pictured on the far left in the second photograph below.

Greetings dear friends and supporters,

As we celebrated Thanksgiving we counted our blessings and thought of you as one of them. Thank you for being with us and for all your prayers. We are alive and well despite all the pressures, and we are blessed because we have Jesus.

This fall was very fruitful in friendship and things we did. First of all, the pigs made it to (town's name) orphanage barn with pig food for the year. And the orphans were blessed with potatoes, carrots and cabbage as well for the whole year. We presented orphans at (orphanage #2) with a washing machine, so now they can do laundry themselves in their group area.

Three times we did a "cutting project". A group of Christian ladies from a different town asked us to share our experience of how to start a ministry to orphans. Our staff members shared some things and we wanted to follow with practice, so we took them to the orphanages with us and since all of them are hairdressers, they did hair cuts for kids and shared about their faith too. Moreover, we found a contact person in the orphanage in their town (that's where my parents live) and made a connection for the ladies to visit the orphans there.

Also, we did a cooking class at No. 2 orphanage for one family group of kids (brothers and sisters of different ages). We like this project as it's very practical and helps orphans a lot. We had a girl Ira in our group this time, and I asked her to boil eggs for the sandwiches but she didn't know how to do it. And Ira will graduate this coming May. After our lesson, I asked her if she knew how to do it and she said "yes". And while we are eating, we like to talk about their future and help them to build self-esteem, as many of them think that they are not worthy or not able to go to college for further studies.

Twice a month or so, we sit around the table, having tea and cakes, with a group of orphans. We discuss different topics and give a Christian view on them. And in between all the visits to orphanages, we try not to forget those orphans who are in the hospitals. Andrey, 11 years old from (town name), had surgery on his leg (it was 2 inches shorter) and now he has to spend a long time in bed.

We continue to open the doors of our home for orphans and graduate orphans. During the Fall break we had an orphan, Masha, who is in her last year of the orphanage, stay with us for a week. She made good friends with my kids and really enjoyed family stay, rather than staying at the orphanage. Also, it's a great opportunity to disciple. Besides, we have graduate orphan girls come to our home and church.

This month we have a special praise report as after one of our visits to (town name), the teacher has asked us if they may visit our church with the kids. And they did. We took them to children's Bible school and after that we went to McDonald's. It was 15 kids and two teachers. It was a double blessing for us at this time as our government is trying to put down the work of all organizations that have connections with Christianity (as you know they have turned down many foreign missionaries and now the national Christians are pressed), but despite all of that we see good results from our work, and we are ready to go on for as long as there is a way.

We ask you to continue to pray for our ministry and for us personally as we continue to have pressure from the authorities: they have made a determination to shut us down. They have done everything possible to do it. We have had all sorts of check ups, starting from local tax police and ending with the General Prosecutor's office trying to find a way to shut us down. But nothing was found, so we are still on. So, a few weeks ago they went to the owner of the building we rent an office from (it's a private place) and talked to him for three hours trying to make him kick us out, and if we were to lose our address they were going to close us. Usually a 30 day period is given to find a new place, but they use a date that has passed (like a month ago) and shut you down immediately. The guy is tough and didn't do it their way. It helps at least for a while, but they may try to do something else. And we do not know what they will do next. It's really very serious and we need prayers. A lot of them, and especially for protection.

Also, we ask you to pray for our Christmas projects, and we are still looking for Christmas gift donations. Thank you dear friends and may you be specially blessed this season.

We continue to put our trust in Jesus and let him rule our lives and (our ministry).


Anonymous said...

Dear Theo-Geek
Hello! Writing to see if I can get some more information on the orphanage you noted on this post. I wrote an article on Defending Contending and was directed to your blog. Please let me know how it would be best to contact you.

Blessings in Christ
brother Michael

Marie said...

Hi Michael!

Yes, I was the one who left the comment. I'm a regular reader at DefCon, as you can see from the blogroll to the right).

Please shoot me an e-mail at and I will explain the ministry to you - there are actually 4 orphanages "Elena" ministers to, but the work has to stay below the radar as Christian ministry is illegal in her country. I will explain everything in an e-mail.

Thanks so much for your interest, and have a blessed Christmas holiday!