Hello Friends and Supporters of YouthReach International!
First of all, thank you all for your kindness to us in 2011. Your support of our ministry, our staff, our teams, and of course the Mentors and Orphans allowed us to impact more than 750 orphaned and at risk youth in Ukraine and Russia last year. We are so thankful for this ongoing relationship we share with you.
It is always exciting when we see and hear of our Mentors doing things, good things, without depending on us to provide all of the vision or staff or funding for it. This recently happened in Novosibirsk, Russia, where our Mentors raised nearly $1500 on their own from our Mentor team, area Christians, business leaders, and churches to buy gifts for children in the orphanages with whom we work. These gifts were not dropped off or mailed to the children. They were personally presented to each child in their orphanage by a YouthReach Mentor around the Christmas/New Year holidays. Please click here to see a video our Mentors made of these events and rejoice with us at the level of organization and commitment they are showing to this ministry.
Our 2012 Summer Ministry Season has kicked off with US Team Leaders committing themselves to go and working to finalize commitments from their Team Members to go as well. A key gathering of our volunteer leaders will happen here in Atlanta at the end of January as we pray, work, and launch the team training season that February to May means for us. Please keep our leaders from California and Texas and Colorado and Tennessee and Missouri and Florida and Georgia in your prayers.
Finally, as we all believe ministry to orphans is dear to our Father's heart and therefore should be to ours, consider a few statistics that should refine our resolve:
In Ukraine, 1 in 7 orphans commit suicide. 1 in 5 are incarcerated.
If they avoid those two pitfalls then drugs, alcohol, prostitution and the new bully on the block, human trafficking, await them. Just last week, 40,000 young leaders gathered at the Passion Conference here in Atlanta to, among other things, take a stand against human trafficking. One of our most passionate young American leaders, a first year student at the University of Georgia, called me on her way home from the conference and asked what are we doing in Russia and Ukraine through our ministry to combat human trafficking. My answer was, "not enough but with awareness comes opportunity." In this year, we will begin equipping our Mentors to help orphans, young girls especially, to resist the lure of trafficers who promise new opportunities and lives in another country.
The task is huge but we are uniquely positioned to be right on the front lines of making a difference in these children's lives. While the gifts to the kids mentioned above are nice, remember that our Mentors are going before their own countrymen and saying, "this is our responsibility...to help our children." Those listening are becoming a movement and are responding with meaningful resources and a desire to work together to bring about lasting change.
You are part of that movement of lasting change and we thank you for it.
On behalf of all who are mentoring, teaching, training, facilitating, sharing as well as those learning, growing, and finding hope, I thank you!
Wishing you God's very best in the year ahead,
Rob Browne on behalf of all the YouthReach International Family