Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Going Off The Grid

It’s a move that many a criminal or victim in a Hollywood thriller tries to pull off.  Disappearing, vanishing, dropping out of society.  In the movies, it’s voluntary, drastic, and for a purpose. 


In the last 10 years I’ve had two friends and Traci has had one friend actually do it.  One of my friends literally disappeared one day taking with him money, things, and his reputation.  Another announced his intentions and then did it as well leaving behind a family devastated and confused.  Traci’s friend would be a mystery to us and others were it not for a thing called Facebook.  Truly, it is harder to go off the grid these days than at any other time in recent memory.


This week I got an email from a friend regarding a family that is desperately trying to adopt a boy from Russia.  They are especially intense about this adoption due to the fact that the boy will turn 16 in less than a week.  Once a child turns 16 in Russia, rare are the times that adoption is still possible.  Documents needed to be turned in to the US Embassy in Moscow, Russian holidays are looming, expense is mounting and time, precious and fleeting, is waning.  Through the kind assistance of their friends, one hurdle was overcome.   Now more await as this treasured resource called time continues to pass.  If it runs out then a 16 year old boy will in many ways go off the grid.  It won’t be voluntary, it will be drastic, but it will serve no purpose at all.


Even in our young ministry we have seen a number of children go off the grid.  They are turned out of the orphanage or taken back by a family member or “graduate” and move on to who knows what.  In most cases, their outcomes are tragic and sometimes even fatal.  More than ever the need for a friend, a guide - we call them Mentors - is crucial.  In most cases, a single relationship with someone who is not inside the institution of state care is what is most needed and most beneficial.  That’s what we offer!  YouthReach International remains committed to building atmospheres where these kinds of relationships can be formed, deepened and multiplied.  It’s not especially fast work.  It is worth the wait though.  You can be sure of that. 


In the New Testament portion of the Bible, Peter says in 2 Peter 3:9 that God’s desire is that no one should perish.  In my loose interpretation, he desires that no one goes off the grid and misses what he has made possible through Jesus.  I think the same can be said though of his desire that no one be left hopeless, unloved, and alone.  An off the grid life is not what Jesus died for and it absolutely is not what God created us to experience.


Some very important upcoming events connected to YouthReach’s future ability to keep kids from going off the grid are approaching.  I would love to lay them all out right here in this email but these paragraphs provide plenty for me and you to think about and act upon as they are.  To add anything to them would only serve to take something away from them.  Let us consider how committed we are to making sure kids don’t live off the grid.  In coming days we’ll share with you ways we can help ensure this does not happen.


Since I know many of you are wanting to know, Traci’s surgery last Thursday was a successful in every way.  She’s a little sore but feeling better and better with each day that passes.  I’m being honest when I say we’re in a new but hard part of the journey.  It’s not impossible and it won’t overcome us but it is hard.  Best we can tell, life won’t allow us a long, extended season to reflect on and reload from all we’ve been through.  Life very much goes on.  We need to find times of rest where we can but learn to “heal on the run” as well.  That’s not easy.  Your prayers are needed and treasured more than ever.  We mean that.  We need that.


Be on the lookout for more frequent updates marrying the journey with cancer with the call of ministry.  As so many of you reminded me early on, each has had a great effect on the other.    


With love and gratitude, we are,

Rob and Traci


Rob Browne

Director of Russian Operations



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