Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Few Thoughts From Some of Our Staff

A Few Thoughts From

Some of Our Staff
As you might guess alone is a word that gets your and our attention when we think about young people our ministry serves.  Children without families are alone in life.  Children on the streets are alone without protection.  Most orphans have settled on the fact that alone will be a lot of how they are destined to live their lives.  Thankfully though, YouthReach International is changing that.  More and more orphans are less and less alone as Mentors are bringing them hope for today and a friend for life.
There is another kind of alone that we hear from time to time that breaks our heart just as much.  It's the cry of a leader who wants to mobilize a mentoring movement in their church, their town, or their country.  It's the words that many of us have spoken when we think about how much harder it is to involve others in what we do instead of just doing it ourselves. 
One such leader recently shared with me that exact thought.  I love this young man.  His name is Sergei and he is committed to building an orphan mentoring community in his city.  Sergei has worked with YouthReach International for 3.5 years now and has recently become the long awaited banner carrier we have been praying for in his city of Tomsk, Russia.    
Sergei writes, "I am still praying for the project (establishing a mentoring community. rb). Asking God would show me His plans for those kids. It is an honor to do something for them. Please pray for kids, project and me as a leader. Sometimes I think it is much easier do it by myself than build a team and do it together.
I do not blame Sergei at all for feeling this way.  Building takes time.  Building demands entrusting others with responsibility.  Building ensures setbacks and disappointment.  Even so, building is a must for a leader who wants to create something that will outlast himself.  Sergei is that kind of leader.  He is as humble and as sincere as any Russian man I know and the passion that burns in his heart to impact orphans in his home city is contagious.  Please stand with me in prayer for Sergei as he prays, waits, trusts, and builds a team that will become that mentoring movement orphans in his city so desperately need. 
Sergei, left, and Andrey, right, have enjoyed a friendship
for many years now. Andrey is 16 and lives in an orphanage.
He knows Sergei is his mentor and is learning to live as a
man of God because of Sergei's influence in his life.
With just a week before Thanksgiving please know again how much we thank God for your partnership in this ministry.  Even if we wanted to go it alone we could not.  You all are part of this team that is changing lives, countries, and cultures and we are forever grateful to you for it.
Blessings in Him,
Rob, Traci, Benjamin, Nate, Aidan and Anna Browne
Loving and encouraging Ukrainian orphans.  Is there a better way to spend a Christmas vacation?  If you ask the Morrows, they would say that is the BEST possible use of their time. Tony Morrow, his wife Shana, and his daughter Elizabeth will be spending December 20th through January 4th doing just that.  The purpose of their trip is three fold.
The Morrows have spent the last two months collecting gifts for approximately 200 orphans who live in Snezhnoye and Uglegorsk in the Donetsk region.  These children range in ages from 6 years to 17 years.  Each child will receive shampoo, lotion, soap, toothpaste, a toothbrush, a pair of socks, some American gum (their requested favorite!), and some candy.  While visiting with the kids in December, the Morrows will deliver the gifts with the help of Arthur Kazaryan.  Many of the gifts were donated by Hillcrest Church of Christ members, Oldham Lane Church of Christ members, and the Christian Service Center, all of which are located in Abilene, Texas where the Morrows live.
Tony will also be facilitating  a mentor training retreat for the YouthReach International Mentors in Gorlovka.  Many new mentors have begun working with YouthReach International and the orphans in the Donetsk Region during the recent months.  This will be a great opportunity for the Mentors to receive Godly encouragement and for everyone to get to know each other a little better. 
While in Ukraine, the Morrows will spend time with orphan graduates who are now attending trade schools in Gorlovka and in Makeevka.  These kids hold special places in the Morrow's hearts.  They have seen them grow from children dealing with the struggles of abandonment into young adults having freedoms they are not mentally, physically, or spiritually prepared to deal with.
Many prayers have been said for this intensive 16 day trip.  We ask that you please pray that God's desires will be accomplished during every leg of this journey.

Tony (center), Shana (wearing orange), and Elizabeth (front left in green) leave for Ukraine in a month to stand alongside Mentors in service to orphans.
My name is Dathan Hammer and after working with YouthReach International for nearly a year, I thought I knew what the ministry was all about from my support role, seeing the wide scope of partner support, viewing the mission trip pictures, and  hearing about the orphanage visits. In less than a full year, I already knew I was a vital part of a vital ministry.

However, nothing compares to being there and seeing the care YouthReach Mentors give to orphans on a regular basis. In October, I spent 2 weeks with our staff in both Russia and Ukraine. I attended a 3 day mentor retreat and heard first hand the desire and commitment these volunteer mentors have for the orphans in their own countries. One woman testified how she rides a train for an hour, on Saturdays, just to visit the orphanage and she seemed absolutely thrilled to be able to do so.
I discovered that God is alive and he has committed servants in countries outside of the US. Russians and Ukrainians are not so different than Americans. They too are worried about their government, their economic future, and most importantly, how to serve God in their daily lives. I returned home inspired to do more in this country. In the USA, I speak the language, know the culture, and have no laws against me to share the good news of the gospel. I saw the effectiveness of those in foreign lands that have many hurdles and yet "meet the needs of these little ones…". If they can, then I should be able to do even more in my home country.
I am more thrilled in my role with YouthReach International than in any previous technology job I have had. I serve in an organization that is making a difference in the lives of orphans around the world and I believe that truly honors the Lord.  I absolutely know it blesses me.

Left to right, Dathan Hammer, YouthReach International Director of Operations, with Ruslan Asadov (Russian Operations Manager) and Wayne Tomlinson (Board Member) "pose" during a break at our Fall Mentor Retreat in Novosibirsk, Russia.


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