Years ago, a decision was made by Christ Church to begin a new ministry, called Mission 1:27, which involved sponsoring an orphanage in Russia. From the beginning, I had already determined that this would NOT be the ministry for me but you all know how our Father has much bigger plans for us than we can even fathom!
A short time later, our fellowship hall was lined with many, many photographs of the available boys and girls awaiting a sponsor. I just thought I would take a quick look…I was stunned by the number of cherub-like but emotionless faces of the orphan children….even more compelling were the statements I read from each child. One young girl spoke of how much she liked to clean….I immediately knew that her cleaning was one of the coping mechanisms that allowed her a measure of control in her life. As I continued to read their messages, tears began to well up in my eyes.
God spoke to my heart…I reasoned that this new ministry would involve a limited commitment from me. My only responsibilities were sending in a small monthly check and writing to my child periodically. As our Church members begin making journeys over to Russia, I did not feel any nudges to join the group. Even after my son, Robert, went there, and came back with glowing reports of his experiences with the children, interpreters, and the orphanage director, I continued to be firm in my belief that God was NOT calling me over there.
Then last spring, I was personally invited to join the fall travel group by Doug Kubel and my resolve began to waver. As each day passed, I gave Doug’s invitation new consideration. Honestly – I was coming up with reasons why it was impossible and why it could not, or would not work. First of all, I thought of the basic cost of the trip. The Lord would have to make the way financially. A short time after Doug’s invitation, there were major financial stresses in our lives as well as commitments which included two weddings in one summer. Now there was no way I could go to Russia.
Then the next barrier was the fact that the trip was during the fall…my busiest time at work as a teacher. I probably could not even get that much time off from the job.
Most of all, I was unable to speak the Russian language. As a certified interpreter and teacher with deaf and hard of hearing, I was accustomed to being in charge by knowing the language. After teaching sign for so many years at the community college, I was also highly aware that our language window, that is our ability to acquire a new language, shuts down after 50 years of age. Without being able to speak to the children directly, I did not feel I had anything to offer.
Finally I had some health issues which might impact my ability to participate…so I offered this neatly wrapped solution to God and I expected that was the end of the story.
In a few weeks, some miraculous things began…first a way was made financially….then Steve made an appeal at a Sunday morning service. It was not a nudge from the Holy Spirit this time, but more of a shove!
Over the summer I was able to work extra hours at my job in order to have everything arranged for a smooth fall set-up and my boss even allowed me to go!
As for the language, I would just have to accept that this trip was not about me. Most importantly, it was about the children.
- About being the “Face of Hope” to these children…
- About “offering ourselves as ‘living sacrifices…”
- About “using our different gifts…” (Mine which included teaching, bird calls, and the ability to mime!)
- About “loving others…”
- About “sharing with God’s people who are in need…”
Recall the 12th chapter of Romans! There was strength in knowing that God WANTED ME TO GO. I just needed to TRUST HIM.
Now after returning from Russia…I cannot wait to go again…I encourage you to explore the possibility of going because…
IT IS ALL ABOUT THE CHILDREN.
…their lovely smiles,
…their warm hospitality,
…their bear hugs,
…their communication with me by just saying my name!
These orphan children, considered special education children, are very much like my own students, with that INVISIBLE barrier that can only be overcome by friendship, love, and kindness…that heart to heart communication that does not need ANY WORDS…by our becoming the hands and feet of Jesus to others.
4 thoughts on “Retrospective from a Traveler – Barbara M.”
Barbara, thank you for your honesty and vulnerability. It takes a lot of courage to step out with faith, simply bringing your self, knowing that God is setting the path and the table! God met you there and the blessings were abundant.
I love that God doesn’t give up, he just keeps sending messages until we listen. What a blessing that you were able to GO and meet these children and that they felt your love and compassion! Your faith is inspiring.
Barbara, Thank you for telling your story so beautifully. I am so glad you made the trip with us, and am excited that you plan to go back to Slobodskoy again!
Barbara, I am sure your post will strike a chord with many people. Aren’t we all adept at building that nice little package of reasons why we can’t do something? And I love your image of God’s exchanging a nudge for a shove to bring home the point. Maybe we’ll travel together on a future trip!