Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reaching to Russia - Mind the Gap

Last year, while riding “The Tube” in London, I was amused to hear the announcement at every stop warning passengers to “Mind the Gap” as they stepped off the train and onto the platform or off of the platform onto the train.  Depending on how well you were paying attention, the gap was small enough to miss altogether but big enough to trip over as well.  So mind the gap.  I’ll come back to that in a moment.


We finished just yesterday our second major outreach of the summer here in Russia.  Tim Dunn (actually Timothy Dunn on Facebook if you are looking for a new friend with lots of great pictures of our summer here) shares this album with you of our week together.  We conducted a day camp at a school that is run by some our ministry partners here in Novosibirsk from the Catholic Church.  As you know, they run St. Nicholas’ Orphanage and Kid’s Club where our mentoring and sponsorship programs are alive and well.  While children from St. Nicholas’ Orphanage were present at our camp for a few days, the focal group of this outreach was the kids from the school.  Most all of these kids come from families though we learned more than a few have trying circumstances at home with parents that fight, homes that are influenced by alcohol abuse and the worldwide epidemic of divorce. 


Even with those problems in play, we saw a gap between the orphans we have worked with in past camps and the kids from this school.  A bit more trusting.  A bit more responsive.  A bit less fearful.  Victoria Barker wisely said on Day 2, “it’s more like we are reinforcing these truths in their lives instead of introducing them into lives.”  The themes we discussed daily with the kids regarding choosing healthy friendships and avoiding unhealthy friendships landed truly on fertile soil.  I suspect our impact was deeper and greater initially with this group than with any other we’ve worked with.  Obviously, these kids had less filters to overcome in order to hear our message than the orphans do.  It was truly time well spent this week as we learned much and made significant advancement in the lives of the 30 plus kids entrusted to us by the school and their families.


This week did something else.  It showed us the gap.  I mean the relational, development and spiritual gap between kids who have family and those who don’t.  It reminded us that our work with orphans is so important but it also painfully slow.  There are no shortcuts to closing that gap.  The only way to do it is to daily walk in fellowship, friendship and community with the fatherless the Lord has brought into our care.  My appreciation for our Mentors has grown exponentially the last month as I have seen them say with words and show in deeds a kind of love that truly does not hurry, perseveres through tough times, and never, ever lets go. 


As we move into our 3rd camp of the summer with a group of at risk youth, we are aware of, praying about and minding the gap.  Please join us in those efforts.


Thank you all,

Rob, Traci, Benjamin, Nate, Aidan and Anna as well as Tim and Sheila and Victoria


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Paul, Dan, Toby, Todd and Dante joined our “family” plus Olga, Ruslan, Nastia, Zhenia, Lena and Andrey to work with a wonderful group of school aged children.



Rob Browne

Director of Russian Operations

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678-935-0220 x103 Direct

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          Grayson, GA 30017



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