Russia (MNN) — With the confusion and violence surrounding the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, people are looking for answers.
And more than ever, Christians are hoping people will find their answer in Christ.
SOAR International Ministries is pursuing many summer camp opportunities in Russia the next couple of months to minister to a group of people who are certainly overlooked in this time of turmoil.
Joanna Mangione of SOAR International tells us about their orphan ministry plans. One staff member will be assisting a church in Blagoveshchensk while they conduct a summer camp.
In early July, Mangione will lead an English camp in the Moscow region.
After that, a team will travel to their transition house in Ryazan to assist them with the summer camp they run.
SOAR then hopes to hold a week summer camp for orphans in and around Abkhazia.
Recently, Russia closed adoptions to America, even making it difficult for missionaries to visit orphanages.
Mangione explains that this hasn’t been a problem for their ministry so far.
“We definitely ask for prayer, though,” she says. “The church in Russia, our counterparts, have requested prayer obviously that there would be unity and a resolution.
“But it has not inhibited us. We are still able to do ministry, and we just ask for continued prayer over that situation, that it wouldn’t create any major obstacles for us.”
The camps are taking small teams to the camps, similar to American summer camps. They include crafts, English classes, food, and even activities like gymnastics.
Mangione explains the problems that many orphans face after they are too old for the orphanages: “It can be anywhere from girls in prostitution to drugs or to suicide. There’s a very low percentage of orphans who are actually being able to live on their own and be successful.”
She explains that this is because “they’re quite young when they graduate from the orphanage, and they don’t have a lot of skills: they don’t learn what they need to learn in the orphanage, so a lot of them end up on the street.”
The partnership SOAR has with the transition home in Ryazan is meant to address these common problems, giving orphans a better chance to succeed in life.
“The transition home takes in graduate orphans, basically, and really gives them the skills to be able to live on their own, but also provides them with the knowledge of Christ,” Mangione says.
The camp at the transition home will be a chance to emphasize the hope of the Gospel more intentionally.
With all of the opportunities SOAR has this summer, there are also financial responsibilities.
The camp that SOAR will host later in July costs about $40 per orphan per day, or around $280 a week. Would you help with that here?
If you have any doubt as to the impact these camps have on the lives of orphans, consider what Mangione has to say.
“Last year, it was quite encouraging,” she explains. “There were a few boys who had accepted Christ the year before. This last summer camp, upon talking with one of our staff members, they actually assisted with bringing other children to Christ.”
It isn’t just SOAR and the churches they work with who are sharing Christ’s love, Mangione says. “These kids are taking hold of the Gospel and the love that they don’t have anywhere else, and then going and sharing it with their other friends and the other kids in the homes.”
Pray for the safety, health, and financial provision of the teams going to Russia. Pray that they would fulfill their mission of enabling the church to reach out to the community. Pray for God to prepare the hearts of the orphans who will come into contact with the Gospel.
Continue to be in prayer for the Ukraine situation, as well.