TO RUSSIA WITH LOVE
by David Sisler
Imagine that your money is worth one-third of its value from three months ago. Imagine that prices are climbing, up 25 percent in the same twelve weeks, not that it makes a lot of difference, because chances are, you haven't been paid in longer than that.
Now imagine that forecasts for almost all major farm commodities are predicting drastically smaller yields for this year: the potato crop is down 12 percent; sugar beets are down 13.7 percent; milk is down 3.2 percent; meat and poultry are down 10.3 percent, and as if that is not bad enough, the grain harvest will be the worst in three decades, down 56 percent against last year.
Now change the picture. Imagine that you are not an adult, but a child, living in an orphanage.
If you are a Russian, you are not imagining. You are living the nightmare.
For nine years I have written this weekly column. To be sure, I have shown off my children, like a proud dad and, and as a joyful husband, I have bragged on my wife. But regular readers know that I am committed to the promotion of Jesus Christ and not the promotion of any single church or denomination. Week after week, Jesus Christ has been the focus of this column, not its author. Until now, I have never written a piece like this one.
One year ago, my wife, Bonnie, and I founded MIR Children's Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit, humanitarian organization chartered to serve the needy in Russia. Specifically, we minister in Samara, Russia, 1000 kilometers east of Moscow.
MIR (the Russian word for "peace" and "world") has a board of directors who oversee the financial direction of the corporation — any expenditure more than $500 must be approved by them. No one who serves on the board may be related to Bonnie and me in any fashion. When the financial books close at the end of this, our first year, strict account procedures will be observed and all records will be available for public inspection.
Everyone in MIR is a volunteer, paying his or her own way, drawing no salary. On January 4, 1999, a group of us will be leaving from Augusta to take Christmas presents to Detski Dom (Children's Home) Number 1, three other children's homes, and, time permitting, to children in two other cities nearby.
Why Russia, you may ask, with so many needy kids right here at home? Thankfully, there are thousands of organizations dedicated to helping children in America. To the best of my knowledge, MIR is the only outside agency helping the Detski Doms in a city of 1.5 million people. Most of the youngsters are orphans, but many have been placed in the care of children's homes by single parents who cannot provide for them. Also, children who have been sexually and physically abused are removed from those violent situations and given safe haven.
We take seriously the confidence placed in us when individuals and corporations make donations to our work. Because of that, we take donated items directly to the kids for whom we make the appeal and place it, personally, into their hands. What is given reaches the people for whom it was intended. MIR does not push pictures of dirty-faced, hungry kids, pictures which are calculated to tug at your emotions.
Our first major community outreach promotion is called, "To Russia With Love," which is appealing for help from churches, business and individuals throughout the Cenral Savannah River Area. Specifically, we are taking "Christmas Shoe Boxes" to the children.
Take an empty shoe box. Wrap the top separately from the bottom so it can be opened for customs inspection in Moscow. Fill the box with gifts for a boy or a girl — toys (no weapons or war-related items), hard candy and gum, school supplies, and personal care items. Inventory the contents of the box and place that list on top of the presents.
No religious items of any kind may be placed in the box. We take Bibles and gospel literature, but we package it separately and declare it separately. Customs regulations require this, and we will not endanger the ministry God has given us through subterfuge.
Additionally, the leaders of Detski Dom Number 1 have asked for specific supplies to meet the needs of the kids. If you want to help provide these additional goods, send me a stamped, self-addressed business envelope (233 Woodland Drive, Martinez, GA 30907) and I will tell you how you can help. Or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org
So that we will be ready to travel on January 4, 1999, the last day that we will be able to receive the Christmas Shoe Boxes will be December 20, 1998.
On behalf of thousands of young people who are the future of their nation, thank you, and God bless you.
Copyright 1998 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.
Your comment is welcome.
Write to me at: email@example.com
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