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What a trip!  We visited the 132 kids at Kirov #1 during the week of Easter.  It was an awesome and heartbreaking experience.  We were blessed to try to be the hands and feet of Jesus to the children and staff.  We are planning to go back next year.

You can see a slideshow of pictures from the trip here.

A team of 6 will visit the children at Kirov #1 orphanage during the week of Easter.  We are all very excited about our trip and can’t wait to meet the kids!

We have received so much support from our church family and friends.  We appreciate all of the prayers, donations & gifts for our trip and the kids.  Please continue to pray for us as we travel.  Our trip begins this Friday (4/2).  We will return on Sunday (4/11).

We hope to be able to update this blog while we are in Russia.  Check back for updates during our trip.  We are looking forward to what God will do in us & through us during this trip.

Blessings to all of you!

New life. New eyes.

If you’ve ever seen an orphaned child, you understand.  Their eyes are empty, void of joy.  I experienced this with our daughter whom we adopted from China.  Once we got her home, it didn’t take long for love to fill her up.  And, when it happened, you could see it in her eyes.

A friend of mine recently shared a blog post with me that tells the story in a great series of pictures.  Love changes everything.  Click here to take a look.

I wanted to share this wonderful story with you from a fellow Christian who has a heart for orphans.  (Note: The “Beveni Challenge” was started to encourage people to support children in an orphanage in Swaziland through Children’s HopeChest.)
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As many of you know, we are parents to two sons: Anthony, our 14 year old who started the Beveni Challenge with the money that would have been spent on his Christmas presents, and Aidyn, our 13 year old. Both boys came to be our sons through the joy and miracle of adoption.

Aidyn was 4 ½ years old when he joined our family. He had lived in an orphanage in Karaganda, Kazakhstan called Nyezabutka, which is Russian for Forget Me Not. That name has reverberated through these years as a reminder to never forget the children we left behind.

Aidyn is a hard working kid, always willing to lend a helping hand on tasks that require extra help around our home and business. He is also very frugal: he has been saving every penny he has earned for the last 14 months.

When we first talked about the Beveni Challenge, he knew he wanted to participate in it by giving a donation. We encouraged him to pray about it, and waited patiently for him to let us know how much he wanted to give.

The other night, as I walked through his room, I glanced at his computer screen. He was working on writing a letter to Tom Davis about his gift. Without sharing his entire correspondence, I will tell you the part that made my eyes tear and my heart swell with pride.

He told Tom that it had taken a long time to earn the money, but that he could always earn it again, and that he knew the children of Beveni needed it more then he did.

The next morning, Aidyn asked me if I wanted to know how much he was going to give to the Challenge. You all know I said “Yes”, right?

He answered: “All of it, Mom”.

His earnings of 14 months, totaling $400, is what he desired to give to children who still face the hunger he well remembers from his days as an orphan.

And so one who was once an orphan, who still remembers the pain of hunger, has gifted his entire savings to stop the hunger of other orphans in a far away place in Swaziland.

Every time we care for a child, every time we pour ourselves into their lives, every gesture of love we offer through our bodies as His Body, is an opportunity for that child to know Christ. And that gift goes on, in their own understanding of what it means to love and sacrifice and pour themselves into another child’s life.

I am more than proud of Aidyn. I stand amazed and blessed by his heart of generosity, his grasp of how high and wide is the love of the Father for His children and his willingness to obey the call on his life to care for the widows, orphans and strangers.

This young man named Aidyn is more than my son. He is my brother in Christ, even as he is yours.  ~Deb Gangemi

Kirov #1 orphanage

UPDATE:  55 sponsored and counting!  You can also keep up with the orphanage sponsorships at justinandrebekah.com.
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We have reason to rejoice – 51 orphans from Russia have been sponsored!  We also are continuing to pray that God would provide sponsors for those who are left. 
135 of God's children from Kirov #1

135 of God's children from Kirov #1

I found out something about Kirov #1 that has given me a new perspective.  It seems that several other churches had passed over this orphanage.  You can imagine the discouragement of the director and the children.  I learned recently that our church was this orphanage’s last hope.  If we chose to pass by, they had requested to be taken off the list of prospects.  Rejection is hard…especially when it happens over and over.
 
These children have been rejected by their family and seemingly by life itself.  But, there is One who will never reject them.  In fact, He wants to reach out to them through us.  God loves these children.  As the Body of Christ, we are called to do the same.   Hands of Hope will continue to pray and to work until all of these children are sponsored.
To find out more about orphanage sponsorship, go to Children’s HopeChest.
 

In God’s time ~

It’s funny how excitement and passion for something can make you want to jump in with both feet and speed ahead.  We humans aren’t very patient.  But God is.  God has His own timing and His own plans.  And, when we slow down long enough to stop and seek Him, His plans can become our plans.  We just have to be obedient.

From the beginning of this ministry, we have felt led to help orphans in other countries.  Two years later, after patiently waiting and seeking God’s will, that dream is becoming a reality.  This weekend we are launching an orphanage sponsorship program in our church.  Our congregation will have the opportunity to sponsor a child from an orphanage in Russia.  With the help of Children’s HopeChest, we will reach out and be Christ to the fatherless.

Please join us by praying for the orphans and the families who will sponsor them.  If you are in the Hendersonville, NC area, then join us in person.  Daniel Clark from Children’s HopeChest will be presenting the sponsorship information during the evening service (2/22 @ 6pm) at First Baptist Church, Hendersonville.

Adoption is a miracle

Here is an excerpt from a great article in the Southwestern News.  Click on the link below to read the entire story.

 

As Miraculous as Childbirth

by Benjamin Hawkins

 

It is often said that a picture is worth a thousand words, and for Southwestern alumnus Bart Barber one photograph captures the essence of life. It is a photo of Bart sitting in the children’s wing of First Baptist Church of Farmersville, Texas, where he serves as pastor. He is ready to preach, prepared with suit and tie and with a microphone around his ear. Nestled in his arms is his daughter, Sarah.

“That’s my little girl in my arms,” he says. “She was sad that day when I walked by the nursery, so I stopped in to console her and we had a brief rock. I was singing an old hymn to Sarah while she burrowed up into my chest.” For Barber, this photo reveals the priorities of life: God, family, ministry, church.

“God is the maker of families,” Bart says. Adoption is just as miraculous as childbirth, especially given the waiting, the closed doors and the unexpected difficulties that can arise in the process. Bart and Tracy firmly believe that God intended for them to raise Jim and Sarah, so that He might fulfill His purposes in their lives.”

To read the entire article, click here

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