Orphans and the Olympics - Part III
By: Marnie Wilson
You can read parts one and two here, if you have not yet.
By 2004 there were an estimated 800,000 orphans in Russia. Over 60% of those orphans are now released from the orphanages (“aged out”) and are attempting to find their way through life faced with seemingly insurmountable odds against them.
This is where Orphan’s Tree steps into the gap.
Pure and faultless religion is defined as looking out for widows and orphans in their time of distress. The orphans we meet in Russia need to see human love modeled for them, in personal and practical ways, to comprehend the vast love God has for them.
Ministry centers are drop-in locales where aged-out orphans come for support, counseling, computer instruction and physical exercise, all under the umbrella of sharing God’s deep and personal love for each and every one of them. Through the platform of our services, trained counselors reach into orphans need for guidance through life’s problems. OT provides life skills training in areas like budgeting, productive ways to interact with teachers and others in authority, choosing good friends, being a good friend, elements of a healthy and nutritious lifestyle, good parenting, building a strong marriage, and appreciating their own culture, history and faith.
The Faith, Hope, Love program reaches out to women identified as most at risk for giving up their children to orphanages. OT does this work to help break the vicious cycle of orphans having orphans.
Young families find a secure and fun children’s playroom filled with colorful toys and appropriate supervision where they can drop off their young children while they meet across the hall to enjoy fellowship with one another and get much needed respite and reinforcement for a few precious hours.
State provided free dental care is hard to come by, often requiring hours of standing in line at pre-dawn hours. OT orphans are offered better, more personalized dental care. This service provides OT counselors another avenue to reach into the lives of those desperately in need of assurance they are loved and valued.
Because orphans lack the training to seek and secure jobs, computer literacy labs and training is offered. OT helps orphans learn how to put together a resume, a skill they would otherwise never learn.
OT endeavors to see orphans have doors opened for them and establish strong families of their own. The orphans who walk through the doors of a Ministry Center will never be legally adopted on Earth. But if OT is successful in its work, these orphans will learn they were created unique and special and perfectly, are loved fully for exactly who they are, and are adopted into the heavenly kingdom of eternity, which can never be taken away from them.
As the celebratory closing ceremonies bring the 2014 Sochi Olympics to a close this weekend, giving us all a chance to reflect on the triumphs and defeats of some of the world's most accomplished athletes, we at Orphan's Tree invite you to also ponder the lives of those in Russia who go largely unnoticed and uncelebrated. Post-orphanage young adults in Russia might not be as illustrious as Olympians, but we all know they are every bit as valuable to Christ. As we strive to bring Christ's love to those who might not otherwise ever know it, we thank you for your continued support and coveted prayers.