Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Reaching to Russia - Why This Matters, Why I Give - James and Anita Hutcheson

James Hutcheson is a freelance artist and videographer. He runs a production company called Lamppost Studios.  Anita Hutcheson currently teaches 3rd grade at Rebecca Minor Elementary.  They live in Suwanee, Georgia, and have been blessed with 5 awesome years of marriage.


It all started with a simple business card. I left it in the hands of Nancy Browne after she told me about some summer camps that her son, Rob, puts on in Russia. They were looking for some "creative types" to join their team. Well, I was creative, but—Russia? It was intriguing but seemed way beyond the bounds of reason that I would ever go. Still, I left my card with her and she passed it on to Rob, and we met up a few weeks later for lunch. He explained what it was all about and I was hooked. That was the fall of 2004, and since then I've gone on 6 trips with YouthReach International to Novosibirsk, Russia. I've done things I never thought I was capable of, like leading a team twice and learning to speak a little Russian along the way.
I've had the pleasure of watching it grow from just a seasonal youth camps ministry to a year-round orphan outreach and mentoring program.  I've seen first-hand how kids have been rescued from the brink of despair by the simple act of having someone listen to them and show that they care about them and love them. I've made movies with these kids, watching their innate talents blossom on screen. I have watched children grow up in this ministry and give their life over to Christ, and then give their life over to mentoring the next generation. I've gotten to see our Russian friends rise up to take ownership of this ministry and start their own outreach efforts. YouthReach is also where I met my wife. There's nothing like getting to know your future spouse while slogging it out in a rustic Siberian summer camp. When you've seen each other at your dirtiest, most tired, most mosquito-ravaged, and most comfort-deprived, you feel like you could take anything marriage throws at you. But it really is a joy and a blessing to share this same passion for orphan outreach with the one you love.
I love watching families serve together in this ministry, where the children have just as much impact as the parents do. That's one of the things I love so much about YouthReach-- it has a place for everyone. No matter your age, no matter your background, no matter what talents you have, there is a place for you to serve.  I was drawn to the ministry because I could use my artistic talents to serve, but God has awakened other talents I didn't know I had, like teaching and mentoring. He has also stretched my heart more, causing me to care more deeply about the needs of these forgotten children.  That is something we are all called to do as Christians—to serve the needs of orphans. It is not just some fringe aspect of the gospel--it is at the heart of it, it is the sign of "true religion," as it says in James 1:27. We all have gifts we can use to serve the orphan—think about how you can use yours today and then do something about it. Maybe it starts with a business card. 
Please keep YouthReach International in mind as you plan your year-end giving.
If you wonder why would anyone wait until year's end, then


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