It’s the middle of March in Far Eastern Russia. The cold Siberian winds still whip the white, powdery remnants of winter into small drifts against the buildings at the orphanage in Naihkin.
The ground is still frozen. Nearly as hard as bedrock, with eight inches of frost. And yet, seeds are being sown.
Yes, inside the warmth of the Naihkin Orphanage seeds have been sown… and things are growing.
It’s early morning on a weekend, but hands and minds are already very busy. Three stages of planting are apparent. Some children use little fingers to carefully press seeds into rich, potting soil to just the right depth. They carefully cover the seeds and add just the right amount of water.
At another table, squinting eyes peer intently into little, paper cups where tiny, green plants are emerging from the soil.
At yet another table, children carefully add water to containers with plants that are already several inches high.
Out in the greenhouse, still more children tend to long, planting beds filled with seeds that have been sown.
In yet another area of the orphanage, children wear colorful toque’s they have sewn together themselves atop their heads as they cook in the kitchen. On the stove, soup is being made from various vegetables from last fall’s harvest. Spices are being added and the mouth-watering scents drift out of the kitchen and into the other room where the children are tending to the coming year’s harvest. A tasty incentive to keep sowing seeds.
Later this same day, some of the children will gather together in a common dining room and enjoy the fruits of their collective efforts. Other children who are siblings will eat together in little family rooms, sometimes with relatives who have been invited to visit and enjoy an evening with children they love, but are unable to care for.
These are simple things we speak of here, but profoundly important when you look just below the surface. Just like the seeds the children have planted in the rich soil. You might not be able to see what is there yet, but just below the surface, something very valuable is growing…and yet another harvest is coming. “…and the seed sprouts and grows--how, he himself does not know….” – Mark 4:26-29
Just under 20 years ago, this place, like all orphanages in Far Eastern Russia, was nothing more than a cold, stark building with rows of beds in it. There was no kitchen. There was no greenhouse. There was no equipment for farming. No outbuildings. No animals. No sewing machines. No laughter. No full bellies. No Bibles. No hope.
But then, in partnership with Orphan’s Lifeline, caring Christians from the U.S., Canada and even Japan, began sowing seeds all across Siberia.
Dozens of places, just like Naihkin, were transformed from a place where orphan children languished and suffered without hope into the homes they are today. Places filled with love, hope and the knowledge that God is loving and caring for them through the hands and hearts of His faithful followers.
The agricultural skills, the sewing and cooking are critical education and knowledge for these children at the very least. But, beyond that, they provide security and a sense of worth and accomplishment. It’s a hand-up, not a hand-out for thousands of children across Siberia.
In providing these opportunities for the orphan children of Russia, we have sown the seeds of hope for a better future. We are feeding their bodies and minds and teaching them to be self-sufficient.
We are sowing seeds in fertile ground.
The Bibles we have given them are feeding their hearts and souls. We are sowing the seeds of God’s Love, and the promise of heaven through Jesus. “Other seed fell into the good soil, and grew up, and produced a crop a hundred times as great.”
We are sowing the seeds of peace.
These are thousands of children who will grow up knowing that their happy and healthy childhood, despite their unfortunate circumstance as an orphan, was the result of the love of strangers from thousands of miles away in the United States. “And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.”
We are sowing the seeds of love and compassion.
These are thousands of children growing up, knowing that it is compassion that changed their lives for the better. “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow, in order that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.”
In Russia, it has been nearly 20 years of sowing seeds. That means two generations of children have passed through the many orphanages that we work in there. Many thousands of children have had their lives saved and changed by this work.
Just today thousands more will be born without hope. They will be born into poverty; destined to become orphaned children. By no fault of their own, they will become alone. They will be hungry. They will be cold and tired.
Their tears will fall unseen and their cries will go unheard.
That means there are a lot of seeds still to be sown. And this mission to save the orphan children of the world is one that is certainly perpetual and yet of untold value. “Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.” Galations 6:9
The difference that has been made in the lives of so many orphan children is profound beyond description. But, it’s the culmination of all that has been done, along with all that can and will be done that will change the very future of this world we all share.
A harvest is coming.