Our Mission Philosophy 

Orphan’s Tree has never used a large meeting approach, which would be illegal under current Russian anti-evangelism laws. In 2016 Russia instituted an “anti-terrorism law” which included restrictions on evangelizing. Any person or organization which shared “religious views” outside a government sanctioned church building could be accused of “illegal missionary activity.” In spite of those restrictions we are celebrating many orphanage graduates whose lives have been changed through the power of the Gospel.

We have seen the extension of the Gospel as a process of attracting, integrating, evangelizing, and discipling.

Our target audience is 16 to 20 years old orphans who have left their orphanage. This is not a “captive audience” like children still living under the rules of an orphanage. They must voluntarily attend our programs. We use practical life skills classes and fellowship events to attract orphanage graduates. Life skills like budgeting, family relationships, cooking, and self-care are offered, as well as seasonal parties and educational field trips. We are in discussions with a Christian curriculum developer to increase our effectiveness in teaching the basic life-skill areas.

Once attracted, we use one-on-one interaction with our staff and other orphanage graduates to integrate orphanage graduates into our fellowship. We focus on ministering to small groups of orphan graduates so that maximum interaction and relationship building can occur. An increasing number of our staff are themselves orphanage graduates who connect naturally to those who come. Our goal is to give the graduates an experience of a caring family of God. We know we have succeeded when (as often happens) orphanage graduates seek out specific staff to share their issues and life concerns, or to request prayer. 

In the midst of our programing, as relationships and trust develop, there is a natural environment for evangelizing. Most orphanage graduates have had no biblical or faith training in their orphanages, so we start with the basics of the Gospel of Christ. While biblical integration through life lessons based on Scripture are a regular part of our programing, we find what is most effective is that our staff models a life of faith and love, talking openly about how their faith integrates with their daily lives. Short term mission teams also share their life stories, biblical principles, and opportunities to respond to the Gospel. We provide ongoing training to our Russian staff in effective ways to build relationships and share their faith with the orphanage graduates.  

The best witnesses to orphanage graduates are other orphanage graduates. Therefore we disciple our orphanage graduates with two goals: (1) their own spiritual development and (2) having them invite and bring their friends to participate with them in our ministry. This begins the process of attracting, integrating, evangelizing, and discipling anew with those they bring. 


                                                                                       The Story of Roma                                                                                                                                

          Roma (on right) with a young man he is mentoring

As an example of our philosophy in action,  the following is the story of one of our orphanage graduates who I will call Roma.

Roma (on right in this picture) was attracted to the Kostroma Ministry Center because he needed a dentist, and we offer free dental care to orphanage graduates at our Ministry Centers. Staff member Yana Arkhipova says that Roma seemed quite suspicious and untrusting when he first came, and watched everyone closely. 

When a new orphanage graduate comes to the Ministry Center, the staff and other orphanage graduates strive to make them feel welcome and invite them to participate in one of our practical life-skills courses.Over the next several months Roma became involved in our self-care, cooking, and financial management courses. He responded positively to the skills he learned and began to develop relationships with our staff. At the end of a year Roma was fully
integrated into the life of the Ministry Center.

Our staff reports that Roma really changed. He became more open, more responsible. He ended up being the best volunteer of the last year, coming to the point when he  looked for voluntary project opportunities where other orphanage graduates could participate. Last year Roma was chosen as one of the Mentors in our Peer-to-Peer Program, where orphanage graduates who have shown growth are paired with newer, younger graduates. 

Roma has been appointed as Peer Mentor to a young man who recently left his orphanage. He and Roma get together several times a week, often at a coffee shop. Roman has helped him set life goals, including healthier eating and losing weight. They go to the gym to work out together. Roma takes him to church, and shares the value of his faith in giving him the strength to make the transition to life outside the orphanage.

This is only one story, but change the name and a few details and the story could be repeated multiple times. Orphanage graduates are coming to know Christ, and then sharing the value of that faith with other orphanage graduates. And because they are connected by strong relationships to the Ministry Center, this is fruit that remains. 


© John Smith 2020