September 20, 2012

Scripture for Today

Kids on the Cliff – Adoption Tax Breaks Threatened by John Stonestreet – “While Congress and the Administration continue the wrangling over the looming “fiscal cliff,” a very important, child-friendly tax credit is in danger.”

“October Baby” could be a life saver by Anita Crane

Kids using “fake” second date of birth to create accounts on Facebook – This article is from New Zealand, but certainly happens a lot in the USA. Quote: “What’s the defence if they are doing it at this age? By allowing them to fake such details, it was teaching children that it was OK to manipulate their identity.”

Q & A: Tony Danza recounts his year as a teacher, says kids “victims of our culture”

The following article is from an acquainance of mine who works with wonderful ministry East European Missions Network. I met Eric in Russia while going through the adoption process for my son, Alex. The camps Eric talks about are wonderful. Please pray they continue. (Also please pray for the climate for international adoption from Russia to improve. The media coverage is often very slanted. Also, the issue is used for political posturing by some–a very, very sad and heartbreaking situation. 

Report from Friendship English Language Camp in Petrozavodsk, Russia by Eric Debelak

This year was our 17th Friendship English Language Camp in Lyceum #1 in Petrozavodsk, Russia, and it was a year of special blessings and also special challenges. Two of our team members celebrated 10 consecutive years of going to Petrozavodsk and this year so many language camp students requested Bibles that we actually ran out!

This year our theme was “Living in Faith,” based on the life of Joseph. We of course also incorporate Jesus into our teaching, but the stories focused around trusting God in difficult situations and learning, like Joseph did, that sometimes God’s plans don’t make sense, but God knows how to work all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Our US and Canadian team were forced to practice this lesson by the Russian government. On Thursday of the second week, the FSB (new name of the KGB) and the Attorney General’s Office came to investigate the camp, our team, the Christian Center and Lyceum #1.

At first, the FSB came to the school and interviewed nearly all of the team. I was interviewed for an hour and a half. After that, we were told to report to immigration in the morning. I went to immigration with a representative from the school and we talked with the immigration officers and they said that there were some minor issues related to our visas, but it wasn’t a big deal and there probably wouldn’t be any problems. We scheduled a meeting to discuss things together with the FSB and immigration in the afternoon and went back to finish the camp.

Apparently, the FSB had already made up their mind about us because we received a call from them later that day, but before the scheduled meeting. We were told that they were sending a bus to pick us up from school and take us all to immigration. When we got to immigration, there were no representatives from the FSB and the immigration officers apologetically told us that they had to fine most of the team. I had called the US Consulate and they had told me there have been an increasing number of incidents in the last few months.

The Christian Center and school were investigated by the Attorney General’s Office. This investigation of the Christian Center is still ongoing, although no one has been officially charged. Marina Zinkova, the Center’s director, has had to testify at the Attorney General’s Office and at the time of writing this newsletter, there will be another hearing in August.

Furthermore, we planned a camp in a school in Martyshkino (or Turo in Finnish), a small Russian port city on the Gulf of Finland. About a week before camp was supposed to start, some local politicians successfully blocked the camp from happening in the school. When they learned that the camp would still happen, but now in a church, they spoke to the children of the school, forbidding them to attend the church camp. We have never faced so much resistance like we did this year. The good news is, all of the camps went very well!

We do believe we will still be able to do camps in the future, but it does make us take pause and consider what is happening in Russia. Things seem to continually get harder and the door may be closing for our work there. This only strengthens our resolve to continue working while we still can and finish the campground/retreat center project (the first one in Northwest Russia). Even if foreigners can’t go to Russia, the campground/retreat center can operate with closed borders. We pray for renewed strength to work while it is still day (John 9:4) and pray for those Russians, like Marina, who do the wonderful work at the Christian Center and campground project.