2/21/13

A prayer for the oldest orphans

This post is part of my lenten series: 40 prayers for Russia's orphans.  Won't you join us in lifting up some of the most vulnerable children in our world today? 

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Day 8

As we drove around Moscow going to various appointments or to visit Arie, John and I had a lot of time to talk with our facilitator and translator. She was such a wonderful woman, full of kindness and entirely capable. We asked her opinion on many things. Once, John asked her what happens to older orphans. We knew the statistics were grim (majority either turn to crime, prostitution, or suicide), but we wanted to know step-by-step what actually happened to them.

In Moscow at least, the children leave the orphanage "homes" when they are 17 or 18 years old and the government provides an apartment (to own, not just rent) and tuition for a college education. Mostly, she said, these young adults are encouraged to learn a trade.

When we heard this, our initial reaction was something like that's actually not too bad, but then our facilitator went on: the young men and women who have spent their whole lives in an orphanage are often unable to cope with the world once they leave. They've had meals prepared, clothes and school supplies bought, they've lived in community their entire lives, and they just don't have the skills to live alone. They become terribly lonely. The worst, she said, are holidays. When every other college student returns to Mom and Dad for New Years or summer holidays, these orphaned students have no one. Just think for a minute when you were in college or just starting out in the world. Think about how many times you called home, emailed, or visited your parents to ask for advice or just for a hot meal and come company. These young adults have no one.

Many of the young children in baby homes right now are the offspring of young men and women who grew up as orphans themselves. Having grown up without an example to follow, they simply do not know how to parent.

There are organizations that exist to help these young people not just survive but thrive. They provide mentorship, classes for life skills, and invaluable direction for those who don't know where to turn. We should remember to pray for them, especially now.

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God who guides our every step,

Today we pray for the young men and women who have just left or are about to leave their orphanage homes. They are in deep need of your love and guidance. We pray you will provide for them in very practical ways.

Give them a safe place to live, food to eat, an education, and a way to be fulfilled in their work. We thank you that the government provides many of these things in Russia.

However, we know that it is not enough. We also pray that you will bring older and wiser people into their lives to provide wisdom and direction. We pray you will give them a community in which they experience real love. Give them a place to go for the holidays, someone to call for advice, and a loving hand to hold as they figure out how to make their way in the world.

Provide them with spiritual direction through your church. Bring them missionaries, clergy members, and believers to share your gospel truth. May they find unwavering peace and lifelong direction in your precious word.

As adoptions in Russia close, we pray that you will bless the people and organizations who help these older orphans with all that they need. Make them a blessing in their country.

We thank you for every good and perfect gift; we know they all come for you.

Be with these oldest orphans today, we pray in Jesus' name.

Amen.

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