Plans for Fall 2009!

There's nothing new about the fact that we are about to launch our sixth year of the post-orphanage ministry in Voronezh in September.  But, there is a lot about this new year of ministry that will be new.  Let's jump right in, by listing some highlights of the new year.


  • Max is returning to begin his second full year, leading the "You Are Not Alone" club ministry team.  That's not new.  But, we're excited that his wife Natasha is returning from maternity leave to resume her duties part-time in coordinating the club ministry.  She's been a valued member of the team since it began in 2004.
  • We're also excited to be partnering with the ministry team of our dear friend Gennadiy Petrov again this year.  That's also not necessarily new, but what is new is the plan to take that partnership to a much deeper level.  In doing so, we expect to increase the outreach component of the ministry, as our teams engage more in and out of club meetings with the new kids coming to Voronezh from the orphanages to enter the trade schools or colleges.  In May, we co-hosted 20 graduates for a fun tour of some of the highlights of our city and introduced them to the club ministry.  We hope to see many, if not all, of those kids back for club as we launch in September.
  • Part of this years launch will include a kick-off retreat in September, jointly hosted by our "You Are Not Alone" club team, and the members of Gennadiy's team who have been more connected to many of these kids through the years, by regular visits to their orphanages.
  • Prior to the kick-off retreat our team will spend several days together in mid-August in what will be our second-annual leadership retreat.  In addition to the basic team-building focus, the retreat will also feature times of both personal and corporate worship, and some time together reviewing our ministry's mission, goals, and the values on which those are based.
  • Immediately following the staff retreat, Ann and I head for the states again, for what will be essentially a short language acquisition furlough.  "FINALLY! The Scoop!", then you likely already understand how much we need this additional training, and how important this little language learning hiatus can be to the future of the work.  Writing that article underscored for us the importance of improving our language skills at this juncture in the ministry.  Certainly we've taken great encouragement from seeing how much God has done in spite of our inadequacies, especially in the language.  But now, as the ministry momentum is building and our future vision is expanding, we are realizing several key areas of ministry where God wants to deepen our impact by deepening our language ability.  God's direction seems very clear to us, and He has also confirmed through various means that the Institute for Strategic Language and Culture at Columbia International University in South Carolina is the place for us for a four-month intensive course.
  • Before heading to South Carolina, we've also been strongly encouraged to go through Mission Training International's week of Debrief and Renewal in Palmer Lake, Colorado.  This is where we did our pre-field training before moving to Russia four years ago.  Based on how valuable the training proved to be going to the field, we have no doubt that this week of cultural re-entry training will be of equal value.  


So, there you have it.  A lot in store for this last half of 2009, and we eagerly await what He has for us in 2010 and beyond!