Today’s entry is courtesy of one of our adult leaders and children’s ministry interns, Kiana Lough. Her primary role on our short-term mission trip team to Kursk, Russia is to facilitate our ministry at the orphanages. She has done an exceptional job of not only organizing the necessary structures and strategies, but even more so, placing the right people in the right positions where they are best able to serve and shine. Here are her thoughts:
Hello friends and family! Jordan, I am alive and having an amazing time. I have lost time of the days and the hours (but it’s quite okay). Man, oh man, has Jesus been doing some amazing things in this country and in our team. Coming into the trip I knew that Jesus was going to use us and teach us but I didn’t really think any length of meeting or prayer time or devotional could have prepared my heart for this afternoon. Before I get ahead of myself, let me fill all of you in on our day!
We started out the morning as usual – the whole team was up between 5 and 7 am (thank you jet lag!), prepped for the day, and then headed out to a church. We were able to visit New Testament Church (which was so cool and encouraging). After service, and meeting some of the members of the church (one whom loved baseball!), we headed off to the second orphanage of the trip. After quite an intense game of soccer and a few other games, we split the kids up by age – the first group was thirteen years and all the younger ones were with Marshel and myself. There were five kids – all so adorable. We came prepared with “gospel” bracelets so the kids could wear them, keep them, and remember what the all the colors stood for. The bracelet takes you from creation, to sin, to Jesus’ sacrifice, to purity, to growth, and finally to heaven.
It was amazing to have the chance to share God’s love to kids who don’t get enough of the daily necessities (let alone love). They were so interested in Heaven, streets of gold, forgiveness, and grace. At the end, we talked about the meaning and importance of prayer. We talked about how no matter when or where we are we can always talk to Jesus. Not only is He there to listen to us, but He wants to listen to us no matter where we are in life, He is always with us. I asked the kids if any of them would like to ask Jesus in their hearts. There was a little boy who raised his hand. We prayed with the children, talked to them about who they can talk to when we’re gone, and encouraged them to think of Jesus and his love every time they happened to look at their bracelets.
I think of all the stress and prep I felt planning the orphanage ministry program. I remember thinking that there wasn’t enough planned and we weren’t going to be ready. But I can’t help but to think back to this morning and think about the chapters I randomly read in Romans. About Jesus’ love and grace and how we are justified through His blood. About how my stress, fear and panic was swiftly moved into peace and joy and an overwhelming sensation of gratitude that Jesus would allow me, a crazy American, to speak love into hurting kids. To share His grace and freedom to five kids who were very clearly hurting. It was scary, I was worried to say the wrong things or that I would offend or be irrelevant, but Jesus just keeps reminding me time after time that as long as I continue to abide in him, that my words will be his words, and my love will be his love.
To bring things to a close for tonight, there was this little eight year old girl named Marina. She was very shy at first, but quite quickly we became good friends. I found out she is very sharp in school and a very sweet girl, but like all the other kids there, she was an orphan. Over tea with all the kids, it hit me like a ton of bricks. She had no one. There were no other girls her age and she had no family. But during our discussion time, she knew right away who gave His life for us. And when we talked about prayer, she knew exactly who we prayed to and shared that she prayed every night.
It’s not the thirty one hours of travel, hovering over toilets, or even sleeping on a bed that is far too small for me, that has been so difficult. But the hardest thing I have had to do in a very, very, very long time, was to look that precious little girl in the eyes and say ‘no’ when she begged me three to four times to take her home with me. She was very polite, said she could get permission, that she would only be a guest for a little while, or just ride in the van with us. But each time I had to respond with “I am taking you home with me in my heart, and I love you very much.” I have never in my life experienced such sadness or desire to steal a child…For the record, that’s the only time I have ever wanted to steal a child…Anyways, back to my point, Jesus has deepened that desire and is continuously confirming my calling and love for ministry and children. They are such a gift, and let me tell you, I will probably never forget little Marina. And what helps me be okay with never seeing her again is the fact the Jesus will never stop chasing after her either.
I love you all—thank you guys for your support and time and prayers!