Being touched by a friend, thousands of miles away

Here are some words from another supporter of the Mission 1:27 effort, Elizabeth Esser.  Even though Elizabeth did not travel with our group to Russia, her heart has been touched by the Mission 1:27 effort and she has invested a great deal of time, energy and commitment to helping the children in Slobodskoy.  Here is what she writes:

“I first felt the call to help orphans in Russian when a sophomore in High School.  My best friend returned from a church trip to Russia with stories that broke my heart.  Years and years later, when Andy and I were looking for a church home here in Chapel Hill, one of the ways I knew this was the church home we were meant to have was Greg Arthur in Ascension Hall, telling us about his recent exploratory trip to Russian Orphanages and his wish to start an orphan outreach program.  I joined right away, my mind still filled with my friend’s stories  augmented by the dire statistics from 2007:

  • 4 million orphans under the age of 17.
  • Life expectancy for orphans only 28-30 years.
  • 15% commit suicide within 2 years of leaving the orphanage
  • Sixty percent fall into prostitution or organized crime to survive
  • Fifty percent abuse drugs and alcohol.

The statistics gave me the push I needed.  They were daunting, but I felt I had to try.  I couldn’t just push it to the back of my mind any longer.

Over the last two years, something amazing has happened.  Through the letters I write, through the little things like dinner out or a new trinket that I forgo to afford the orphan sponsorships each month, through working on the Mission 1:27 leadership team, I have formed a relationship with the children at Slobodskoy.  And the pictures you have seen are proof of the difference we are making there.  We may not be able to help all 4 million orphans all at once.  But I was reminded the other day that doing God’s work is not about fixing everything all at once.  It is about doing what you can.  It is about the relationship, one-on-one and in small groups.  And our efforts are paying off in a big way in the tiny town of Slobodskoy.

I received a wonderful proof that my relationship with the children in Slobodskoy is not one-sided when the mission trip returned after Easter with the news that one of the children Andy and I sponsor knows three words in English, and spoke them to everyone he met, trying to find a connection with anyone who knew us.  The English words he knows are “Andy and Elizabeth Esser.”

I wish all of you could know the joy that comes of such a relationship.  I invite all of you to join us on May 16 as we hear from our Russia mission group, see pictures, and learn new ways we are trying to help these wonderful children in Russia.”

Please join Elizabeth and many, many others from the community as we gather on Sunday, May 16 from 12:00 – 1:30 p.m. to share stories, hopes and aspirations for what we can do from Chapel Hill to help a special group of children in rural Russia.  We thank all of your for your continued love and support and we look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday.

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