Monday, June 18, 2012

Reaching to Russia - Reached in Ukraine

YouthReach International is blessed with an amazing army of voluntary leaders.  As good as any is Donelson, Tennessee’s Joel Butts.  I’ve often told Joel I’d love to serve under him on one of his teams one day.  He’s invited me to join him multiple times.  I hope to take him up on that one day.

Joel and his team from Middle Tennessee returned last week from Simferopol, Ukraine.  Simferopol is in the southern part of Ukraine commonly known as Crimea.  They served in one of our partner orphanages there with amazing grace and passion.  Joel’s love for Crimea is uncontested in our ministry.  I learn so much from the way he recruits, trains, and leads his team every year.

I just learned a whole new round of lessons from him based on this picture he sent me last week upon his return to Tennessee.


Polina, an orphan in Simferopol, has her feet washed by YouthReach International Team Leader Joel Butts.

I’ll let Joel tell the story from here:

Polina is an orphan. I would rather have had a mentor do it. We were skeptical that it would work and thought perhaps the kids wouldn't go for it at all. We had talked about "serving with all your heart" the day before and had planned to do it then but it was a crazy day. On the spur of the moment in small group I asked Nastya and Masha if we should go for it. Nastya asked for the tub and towel from the caretaker, Sasha Martenyenko. I briefly reminded them of the story of Jesus washing feet of the disciples and why it was significant. I asked for a volunteer. About half the group’s shot hands into the air. I chose Polina and asked her to sit in the chair. When she realized what I was going to do...she started to squirm. Some of the other girls darted into the bathroom to wash their feet in case I planned to do the same for them (they didn't want dirty feet if it came their turn). It took some coaxing and finally Polina let me take her right foot and hold it over the water. I cupped some water in my right hand and poured it over her foot. When I looked up a tear was welling in her eye. Also the group's caretaker, Sasha, came up after Nastya encouraged her to set an example. 

The photo is my profile pic on vk (Russian language version of Facebook, rb). Polina commented yesterday on vk how uncomfortable the experience was. Nastya brilliantly responded "I think Jesus' disciples were also at a loss. But he wanted to demonstrate in practice that he had come to serve people. Now it's our turn to confirm the words with actions."

Confirming the words with actions. I love that!  That’s the kind of leader Joel is and the kind of Mentor Nastya is and the kind of ministry YouthReach International desires to be. 

Be encouraged by this story, by this picture, and by this challenge to confirm your words with actions!

Rob Browne
Executive Director
Director of Russian Operations

678-935-0220 x103 Direct
404-518-5646 Cell
678-935-9674 Fax
          http://www.youthreach.org
          1911 Grayson Hwy, Ste 8-344
          Grayson, GA 30017


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