At a summit in Kiev, Ukraine, next week, pastors from Russia and other Eastern European nations will be provided with encouragement and guidance to solve the orphan crises in their nations through adoption and other programs. The Church is the only organization with the resources and mandate to solve the problem, Paul Pennington, executive director and founder of Hope for Orphans and one of the summit's organizers, told The Christian Post Tuesday.
About 500 pastors from Belarus, Russia, Romania, Ukraine, and other parts of Eastern Europe are expected to attend the Feb. 6-7 event, which is hosted by The Alliance for Ukraine Without Orphans, Russia Without Orphans and Hope for Orphans. Hope for Orphans is a ministry of FamilyLife, a division of Cru, formerly known as Campus Crusade for Christ.
While the summit had been planned for over a year, there has been more attention to the plight of Russian orphans recently. The Russian government this month banned all adoptions of Russian orphans from the United States.
Pennington said he expects the adoption ban to be a major topic of conversation and there will be more media attention on the summit because of the ban.
The adoption ban is tragic, Pennington said, especially for the 850 or so Russian orphans who have already met and bonded with their adoptive parents multiple times and seen photos of what would have been their new home. Most of those adoptions will not be allowed to be completed, Pennington has learned. There are 54 orphans that the Russian government has said will be allowed to be united with their new parents, but even some of them are being held up, he added.
The "most devastating" of the adoption ban, Pennington said, is that "they've already been rejected once. Unless Church in Russia steps up ... it will affect them the rest of their lives."
Though the adoption ban is horrible, Pennington thinks there is an opportunity in the situation that the Church should take advantage of. The long-term solution to the Russian orphan crisis is not inter-country adoption, Pennington believes, but for the Church in Russia, in partnership with other churches and para-church organizations, to solve the problem.
"The silver lining in this is it gives us an opportunity to raise awareness about the needs in Russia and encourage the thousands and thousands of churches in Russia to now be a family for these kids," Pennington said. "The end game is the mobilization of the Church where the kids are. ...
"There are enough believers in the Ukraine and Russia to solve this problem, if we can help them to see that this is God's heart, and help them to be organized in their churches to be able to do it."
There are many ways that American churches can help Russian churches, Pennington explained. While the traditional model is to help through giving money, Pennington encourages what he calls "people equity."
"One of the greatest things we have to offer from the American Church to the Church around the world are the lives of believers here that can be invested in lives, two, three years, over there," Pennington said.
Helping churches do that is one of the missions of Hope for Orphans. Pennington encourages churches interested in helping other churches around the world with an orphan ministry to check out his organization's website, hopefororphans.org.
Correction: Thursday, Jan. 31, 2013:
An article on Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2013, about a summit for pastors to discuss the orphan crisis in Russia and East Europe incorrectly reported that CBN will send a film crew to the event. CBN will not be sending a film crew to the oprhan summit in Kiev, Ukraine, but will be sending a reporter/producer who will work with a local affiliate to provide video.