Our first week’s work alongside our mentors is behind us now. We were able to touch kids from 4 different entities during our time together. We all feel this was a very, very good use of our time, financial, and energy resources. The rest on Saturday and Sunday were treasured by all of us.
Victoria Barker is back as of this past Sunday morning for the 4th year now. A week ago she was in Cambodia working with a ministry that rescues women from sex trafficking. Today she goes to a state run orphanage in Siberia to nurture relationships she’s had for 4 years now. Victoria is 19 years old. What were we all doing the summer after our freshman year of undergrad? Hmmm….
Let’s talk about reality for a moment. My friend Jesse James recently wrote about something he called the shape of reality as he prepared to lead his ministry into a former Soviet country nearly no one has been able to penetrate with the Gospel, Turkmenistan. Jesse said, “Our basic responsibility as human beings is to live truthfully; live in a manner consistent with the shape of reality. Failing to do so has an eventual and corresponding natural consequence. Wise is the one who seeks to understand the shape of reality and then to live accordingly.”
Last week in a new orphanage we started working with earlier this year through our Russian arm, Best Friend, we witnessed a 17 year old boy beat up a grown man who serves as a security guard for the orphanage. One of our team members came upon this in a corridor of the orphanage and broke the fight up. The teenager was having his way with that security guard and the big black eye he wore the rest of the week proved it. Reality here is there is a lack of respect for authority in that orphanage and the logical consequence is rebellion. Where Jesus is not lifted up, we should expect things like this to happen. That is the natural and corresponding consequence.
In that same orphanage a few months ago, one of the students stole something from our Best Friend team that was there carrying out our Life Skills Training Program. Though it became a teaching point and ended up being beneficial in many ways, the reality remains that thievery is a reality in that orphanage. Those things happen when the word of God are not held in high esteem.
My friend Jesse continues, “Paul addresses the gathering of Christians in Galatia concerning this matter. In his letter to the Galatians he presents two representative lists of characteristics and behaviors and the origins of both. One flows out of what he calls the ‘sinful (broken) nature’ and the other God’s spirit. The first list is more what comes naturally to us and the second a choice. The latter (spirit) list works the best in both life and society because it’s how things are made to work; the shape. The ‘broken’ list explains why we don’t have to teach our children to misbehave; it comes ‘naturally’. Of course it does, and that’s why parents try to teach the wisdom of making moral and ethical choices in life and work. The ‘spirit’ list is about self-governing and as such diminishes the need in a society for laws. How silly it would be to have a law against being too kind, or too self-controlled, etc. However, the more a society is characterized by the first list the more necessary it is to impose laws to enforce a measure of acceptable civility in order to live satisfying and productive lives.”
Jesse’s words have been on my heart a lot the last few months and especially last week as we saw kids from shelters, orphanages, schools, and some very dysfunctional families come our way. Discerning behaviors and origins are a daily task here. Love the sinner while hating the sin kind of stuff. The sinful nature is alive and flourishing in places where the reign of God is not acknowledged and adhered to. The spirit list is the reality God calls us to enjoy. We saw the spirit of life breaking into kids lives last week as we taught and modeled things like generosity, compassion, and mercy. I think I will keep forever buried in the bottom of my computer bag a simple piece of candy a young boy named Yura gave me one day. He had two pieces. He saw I had none. He gave me one. That’s the shape of reality breaking into his heart and consequently into his world, that orphanage, where he lives.
We saw it as well as two girls who wanted nothing, and that is putting it lightly, to do with us on Monday morning were among the very last to say goodbye to us on Friday. Some small talk, a question, an answer, a Frisbee among friends, 2 pieces of candy, two more conversations, some questions and some answers were the journey we traveled together from Monday to Friday. On Friday, they literally walked us all across the street from the orphanage as we said goodbye and moved on to our next appointment. Their reality is changing. I believe that. I see that.
As followers of Jesus Christ together with him submitted to Sovereign God, we know that there is one Reality. The other little realities try and raise themselves up as true and ideal but we know they are counterfeits. Announcing that new reality and demonstrating that new reality is our task here. It starts with relationship, is continued in proclamation, and then cemented by day in and day out modeling which just deepens the relationship aspect all the more.
In the ministry of YouthReach International it looks like this. Mentors begin relationships with children. Americans come alongside in the summers to carry out the proclamation role together with the mentors in these neutral environments. Together, they begin modeling these truths but upon departure of the Americans the Russian mentors begin the day by day living it out in front of those young people. The process is not fast but it is effective.
Thank you for helping us a shape a new reality for so many here.
Director of Russian Operations
678-935-0220 x103 Direct
1911 Grayson Hwy, Ste 8-344
Grayson, GA 30017