Living In a World of Unfinished Business

27 March 2009 - Ann


It's Friday.  Robert and I are about to complete a week at Donetsk Christian University, in the Ukraine, where we have been held up in a one room little apartment, furnished with 2 beds, 2 chairs, night table and a desk.


            It's been delightful!  The addition of a nice bathroom with hot water, a couple of hours a day (at least we know which hours it will be on & can plan for it!) and a little frig in our room and access to a functional kitchen down the hall has made it not only comfortable but affordable.  Praise God!


            Up until about a month ago we had never heard of DCU but this is where the Co-Mission for Children at Risk conference was held last week and over 150 people, mainly Ukrainian and Russian, but a few Westerners, came together to share their passion, their insight, their experience with working with children-at-risk --- mainly orphans, orphanage graduates who are trying to transition into adult life, and street children in Russia and Ukraine.


            As it is every 2 years, this conference was so encouraging and informative and we come away feeling like we have drunk from a fire hydrant!  If you want more information about Co-Mission check out their website:


            There are big organizations that attend, that are well-funded from the West, and yet we all are being affected by the economic issues worldwide.  Some of these groups have been active in this work for 15  years or more and so we glean so much from their experience and their mistakes, which most are so willing to share so that we call all do our jobs/ministries more effectively.


            And then there are groups that have just sprung up - mom & pop ministries, whose hearts have been broken at the need and the plight of the orphan - who are truly experiencing the truth of James 1:27 about 'true religion is taking care of widows and orphans in their distress.'


            And most of these folks are anything but 'religious', a term that I don't particularly like.  Most of them are common, ordinary people who are responding to God's call on their lives - to do something in defense of the defenseless, in whatever baby steps they can.  Some of these folks have been walking this walk of faith and obedience now for some time and now they've got quite a pace going for the cause of Christ and the orphan.


            It's such an inspiration and boost to us in what we do in our little corner of the world in Voronezh, Russia with a handful, okay maybe 25 - 30 kids is more like an armful, of post-orphanage young adults who we are doing life with right now.  We are all quite the ragamuffins!


            The speakers and workshops are uplifting, challenging, informative, overwhelming and encouraging.  But the one-on-one time with individuals, random folks you have an opportunity to meet during a coffee break or sit by at a meal or walking to and from, those 'little divine appointments' also provide such richness to this conference.


            Maybe it's because we are all so hungry and desperate to know more, to do our jobs and ministries better that this 3-day conference that happens every other year is such a life line for us.  Sometimes I feel like I am sitting in a room full of Mother Theresa?s when I hear of what God is doing through these simple, yet passionate people.   My favorite quote from Mother Theresa continues to be, 'God didn't call us to be successful.  He called us to be obedient.'  I love that!


            I think it's that Truth that keeps us all going - doing what we are doing as well as the Rick and Kay Warren's, Bono, and Bill Gates and so many others worldwide that are confronting this giant of the orphan need.  The United Nations predicts that by 2010 (that's just next year!) there will be 143 million orphans worldwide.  That's a big giant!


            It's huge, it's overwhelming but I am convinced that the task is ours - ours who name the name of Christ and take His Word seriously.  Ours, who know and believe in the power of the family - even with all its' dysfunctions.  No, God didn't call us to be successful (as un-American as that may sound.)  He called us - all Christians - to be obedient.


            He will make a way.  He is fully aware of the needs of our world.  He is very mindful of how inadequate we all are.  And yet He has commissioned His Church - the body of Christ - to be His hands and feet and go to a world that is desperate, lonely and in great need - starting first, I believe, with the children.


            What an overwhelming task and yet an incredible privilege He has called us to.  Am I trained enough?  Mature enough?  Have enough experience to do what I am doing?  Absolutely NOT!


            But I am convinced that this is the call on my and my husbands? heart for such a time as this.  And as we step out in our baby steps of faith for the next leg of this journey - wherever it may take us, I know that I know that I know that - He will lead.  All we have to do is follow!


            I just often need to remind myself of the story of Peter.  He had the faith to get out of the boat while the other disciples huddled in fear.  And, as long as he kept his eyes on his Jesus, the Christ - he could handle walking on the waves.


            I relate to Peter in so many ways as I walk on this huge ocean of need.  If I start looking at the waves I definitely will drown - the needs are too big for any of us - rock stars and millionaires included.  One hundred and forty million children without families!  No matter how well funded or equipped we are - the problem is too big!  But it's not too big for God - and He wants to use us to deal with this need.  The only way we can do it is to keep our eyes on Him - and get out of the boat!


And so . . . as Robert and I catch up on so many 'unfinished tasks' this week as we stay in this little room in Ukraine - writing the reports, updating the website, writing blogs, doing accounting, praying, pursuing Jesus daily and His will for our lives we have a choice . . .


. . . we can look at all the unfinished business we have yet to do - the lists that seem to grow no matter how hard or how long we work OR we can look at the One who calls us to these tasks, who promises not to give us more than we can handle and we can choose to stop and take the time to worship.  It's an amazing thing to worship - to focus on the One who loves me so intimately and yet who paid the price for the whole world - even the 143 million orphans.


            'Now unto Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!  Amen.'  (Ephesians 3:20-21)

The Kids Then & Now Photos