No Escape from Reality This Time

During the summer months, many of us will take the opportunity to catch up on some reading – oftentimes with light, easy beach books that allow you to “escape from reality” for a few hours. I am no different and this summer I was treated to a full smörgåsbord of Harlan Coben and Lee Child books.

But I also thought I would tackle some meatier material, so I chose to read “Priceless: A Novel on the Edge of the World” by Tom Davis. Tom is the president and CEO of Children’s HopeChest, our partner with our Mission 1:27 efforts in Russia. He is an impassioned advocate for the fatherless in the world, considered by many to be the foremost speaker and social justice warrior for orphan care.

The book is a fictional story about Stuart Daniels, an American photojournalist on assignment in Russia who gets wrapped up in a dangerous campaign to rescue helpless orphan girls trapped in the sex-slave industry. It’s a quick and gripping read…but not an easy one. You get a firsthand experience of what life is like for orphans all over the world – and what peril awaits them once they leave the orphanage.

Since I am not a professional book reviewer, you will be spared a compelling critique of complex plot issues and character development challenges. What’s important is this: the book rocked me to my core. In large part because the content is so real, especially to those of us who have been to this part of the country. We have stayed at the hotels mentioned in the book, we have been to the places where clandestine meetings were held, we have worked alongside some of the amazing people who shaped the main characters in the book – and most importantly, we have met 50+ young orphan girls who could, at any moment, become victim to the atrocities described in the book. No light beach reading here – the book describes reality for orphaned kids in Russia and all over the world. And it breaks my heart…and inspires me to do something to fix it.

The statistics of what happens after kids leave the orphanage are gut wrenching:

  • In 2007, Russia had an estimated 4 million orphans under the age of 17.
  • Of these 4 million children, 15% commit suicide within 2 years of leaving the orphanage.
  • Life expectancy for orphans is only 28-30 years.
  • Fifty percent abuse drugs and alcohol.
  • As many as 70% of orphan girls end up in some form of sex trafficking or prostitution.

Why? Because these children grow up feeling alone and unworthy and are easy prey to folks who can and will take advantage of them.

Even if you don’t read the book, I ask that you spend five (5) minutes watching the video linked below. The stories in this video are true, the buildings really exist and the images poignantly capture the sadness and reality of the situation – and the hope and vision of what can be done to help.

Amidst the sadness and depressing statistics, there is hope. Hope for a better future. Hope for safety and security. And hope for building a sustainable solution that will produce results and change lives. That’s why we travel to Russia throughout the year, including a trip in 10 days. It’s why we are having our first fundraiser this Saturday, with the benefits supporting future trips and helping build a Ministry Center in Kirov. And why we spend so much time and energy listening, praying and hoping for God’s guidance on what to do next.

As I write this, my mind wanders to Katya and Masha with their beautiful, melodic voices. And Sveta S. and Sveta C and their sports prowess. And Rinata’s smile, Natasha’s shyness and Vera’s skill as a seamstress. I think of Zhenya, Lyuba and Karolina. For if the statistics are correct, seven of these girls will end up in a very bad place once they leave the orphanage. By the grace of God, we can’t let that happen. And with the power of God’s love and His support, we won’t let that happen.

For the Fatherless,

Mission 1:27 Team

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4 thoughts on “No Escape from Reality This Time

  1. This is all very very sad.. all of it- the book that you have read ( though I need to read it too to understand how much fictional it is) and the video posted here with some true orphan girl characters and their choices.
    I can see that the statistics is looking ugly, but it can be deceitful especially when it comes to quiet, peaceful, little Russian towns like Slobodskoy (or is it a remote rural Russian village?..as you called it once).
    Thanks be to God, Slobodskoy is 100% free from drugs and prostitution- the 2 things that go hand in hand in most caces. But my optimism fades away when I see that cigarettes and alcohol are still easy to get for the children, and most children do smoke including girls. This is the reality too hard to escape…
    The statistics say that every 5th or 6th person living on the Earth is Chinese, but I”ve never met one in my life. Just like orphan girls being very vulnerable to harsh life realities, they may choose to stay away and never step on the dangerous paths.
    Of course, I don’t vote for ignoring this statistics, that’s why we have got to stay vigilant to those dangers that may arise from nowhere and prevent them in every possible way. But what is more important now is that we must cope with their daily problems, see the problems of each individual boy or girl not only from some global perspective based on some statistics or whatever, but from their behavior and interraction. Also, we must struggle with the fact that most of them are genetically prone to deviant behaviors, reminding them daily that life has lots of interesting things in store for them, and that they should believe in love and friendship they have at the orphanage and trust their friends better than strangers.. WE MUST BE THEIR FRIENDS ! so that the could feel it and share their problems with us.

  2. Misha,

    That is fantastic perspective – thanks for sharing. Too often here in the States, we say, “Well, it will never happen here” and then ignore the need to be vigilant to make sure whatever “it” doesn’t happen. Your call for vigilance is the right way to keep these kids on the right path with their choices.

    And as you duly noted, first and foremost we just need to be friends with these kids…and you play such a key role in that. You are leading by example by loving them, playing games with them, sharing their problems and just being there to experience life. Thanks for showing all of us what it means to “love your neighbor” and for your friendship to these lovely kids…and your friendship to us. We are thankful that God brought you into our lives.

    See you in 10 days!!

  3. Very powerful stuff – the resources you are building are so needed and will save lives. We are proud of you for your commitment to these deserving kids. Travel safe and bring our hugs along with you!

  4. Today I have been praying and wondering about the children of Slobodskoy. I keep hearing the words : “HOPE FOR CHANGE”. Change happens one encounter at a time and we have been blessed imeasureably by the two Disciplers at Slobodskoy, Mischa and Masha. Through Mischa and Masha, trusting, real and life changing relationships are being established. You’ll be deeply moved…I was and still am when I watch video of the children and their joy when Craig Wood hugged and tucked them in for bedtime. CHANGE is indeed a reality as our God is EVERPRESENT.

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