Because the street kids and imprisoned children of St. Petersburg are clearly those without a voice and desolate and defenseless, Pastor Jerry Calcott writes...
Open thy mouth for the dumb, for the rights of all who are left desolate and defenseless. (Prov. 31.8 Amplified).This summer many of the government paid for free summer camps in the area around St. Petersburg will be closed for part or all of the summer. Because of the closure of these camps we know that many very poor children from rural areas will be forced in the streets of St. Petersburg in search of food. These kids have no other source of food except school lunches and camp food. Most of these kids will get involved in glue sniffing soon after they arrive on the streets.
There are about 80,000 young people not living with their families, but they do not all come from bad families. Many of them have been driven by poverty to leave their homes in search of food and clothes. Others have had their security destroyed in the economic collapse that followed the fall of communism.
Regardless of how they came to the streets, life for these children is essentially the same for each of them. By day, life is a struggle for survival that inevitably includes stealing, contact with the police, violent abuse, exploitation, and glue sniffing. By night, they seek refuge in sewers and abandoned basements. Sometimes the steam pipes fail to provide necessary warmth, and hundreds die each winter alone in the cold of the world's most northern major city. And no one hears their cries.
Some say the thousands who go to prison for stealing are the lucky ones. On an average for two or more years, these children will live in cells two or more to a bed, and where there is not enough floor space for everyone to stand at the same time. In addition to a shortage of space there is a shortage of food, hygiene items, clothes, educational opportunities, medical supplies, bedding, heat, and there is no form of recreation! Because we are allowed to make daily contact with many of these children as often as several hours a day, we can make sure that whatever humanitarian aid we can find goes directly to these children.
Despite all the hardships of their lives these children are "amazingly willing" to trust and develop relationships. In that openness we have found them to be incredibly receptive to the Gospel. Some experienced international observers have said there is no group of kids anywhere in the world more open to the Gospel than these children.
Project Hope is a ministry of the churches of St. Petersburg, our goal is simply to meet these kids with food, love, clothes, medical care, and the Gospel. In order to take care of these additional 10,000 children we need as much prayer cover as possible.
Specifically we need people to pray that God would send the workers to reach these kids and the resources to buy them food. From our past work with these kids we know that they are very open to the Gospel. This tragedy can be turned into good if we can reach these kids with the Gospel before Satan reaches them with a life of glue sniffing and stealing and submission to exploitation.
While local churches are anxious to respond, their leaders tell us the they need help to understand the needs and find ways to respond effectively. In an effort to help the local churches, Project Hope will soon be launched through the Office of International Church. This launch comes with the blessing and endorsement of the leadership of every known evangelical Christian group in St. Petersburg.
You also need to know that we are now mobilizing to expand this outreach for a crisis everyone expects will be brought on by the just now announced closing of free government summer camps that are the only source of food for thousand of desperate children who must now come to the streets in search of food. Would you please seek God in prayer? Let Him tell you, how you might help us help the churches of St. Petersburg help these children and their families.
For the summer outreach our greatest needs are for short term workers (able to come for two or more weeks) and funds for disaster relief aid to feed, clothe, and provide medical care for these kids. For the long haul we are asking God to send us different groups to help train and disciple individuals, to work with families, fund economic development and business development, work in orphanages, provide supplies for disaster relief, and build a financial base to support national workers and to launch project Hope. (After eighteen months Project Hope will be self supported by the Russian churches it serves.) In terms of both the summer and continued ministry our greater need is to identify prayer networks that will intercede as we carry on the ministry God has given us.
Snail mail: 902 Timberbrooke Dr., Bedminister, NJ 07921 USA.
A note from him: It is very important that we learn the identity of as many of our prayer supporter as possible so that we can let them know how God answers these prayers and share future needs with them direct. Those who will be praying are encouraged to reach me at the above email address.
Source: Pastor Jerry Calcott
for Project Hope
A Ministry of the Churches of St Petersburg Russia
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