Friends Wanted

Rick and a boy from an orphanage in Veliko Polovetske, Ukraine

Rick and a boy from an orphanage in Veliko Polovetske, Ukraine

My introduction to Rick Barry were his books, Gunner’s Run and Kiriath’s Quest. After reading both, I asked him to do an interview on my book blog. As I explored his blog, I found out that he frequently visits Ukraine and Russia and works with orphans in those countries. When I contacted him to ask for a guest post on TIO, he was kind enough to carve time out of his busy schedule to write this. I hope you enjoy it. And please do use the links to check out his books. Gunner’s Run is my favorite.

~*~

As a full-time worker with a Christian ministry active in Russia and Ukraine, I’ve seen kids in sad situations. Some have been homeless living on the streets. Sometimes they’re in orphanages, because one or both parents have died, or because they have a parent in prison, or because the parents are addicted to alcohol and simply can’t care for their own kids. Sad.

However, praise God, there are kind-hearted people who do what they can to help. Some coworkers of mine have regularly visited orphanages to take gifts of clothing, to present Christmas programs, to offer Bible lessons. One church in Lutsk, Ukraine, daily offers warm meals to kids whose parents have little income, and these kids, too, have received gifts of clothing and blankets from caring Christians. The especially moving thing about this church is that teens themselves help. These are teens who used to be some of those poor kids who needed a hand and discovered God’s love in the process. Now they help others.

Valia, a friend who helps the kids at that church in Lutsk, shared this in a recent letter:

 A girl named Ira used to get laughed at all the time because of her appearance. But she found support and understanding among our children. After six years, she has grown, changed, accepted Jesus into her heart and become a child of God. Now she is helping to make crafts with the children and is very good at drawing.

Two sisters once came to our church. One of them is Alyona, and has now become my daughter-n-law. Her sister is Julia, now also a sister in the Lord. My daughter taught her to play the piano, and now Julia plays and sings in the church worship team. Once they were weak and poor, but now are blessed children of God. Glory to our Lord, He makes strong from the weak.

I understand that most people can’t travel overseas to help in an orphanage. But many of us have kids right in our neighborhoods who have less money. Or who get laughed at. Or whose parents don’t pay attention to them. Could you be a friend to them, even if they aren’t orphans?

The last paragraph of Mr. Barry’s post makes a good point. The Bible specifically tells us to help orphans, but it also tells us to love our neighbors. Do you have any ideas for how you could reach out to hurting kids close to your own home?

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