Imagine what it would be like to have no belongings except a pair of shoes and maybe one change of clothes. Or, if you did have any possessions there would be no place to store them because all you could claim was a bed, in a line of beds, exactly the same as yours.
That is the story of Russian orphanages where the Taylor family of Fallbrook has ministered over the last two years. Ron, wife Maureen, daughters Shannon and Brittany and son Justin, attend North Coast Church in Fallbrook but minister through an organization affiliated with Calvary Chapel. On December 27 they are embarking on their fifth Russian ministry trip.
“The Lord has continually shown us the many needs of the Russian people and has put such a burden on the heart of our family for them,” Shannon commented.
The ministry that took root two years ago in the heart of a young college student, Shannon, has now become a family passion. She and Brittany began a Christian rock band they call Sorrow Underfoot. Shannon plays the keyboard, Brittany plays guitar, Justin is drummer and new band members are Josh Campbell, bass, and Chris Wright, guitar.
The band was compelled to use their music to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus to Russian youth. The concert venues have not always been traditional or comfortable. In fact, most indoor venues during the winter have been too cold, and in the summer, too warm. A very non-traditional venue was a Moscow nightclub!
Although the three younger Taylors minister through concerts to large groups, another aspect of their outreach takes place on a more personal level – to orphans. What can they do for these children who live without the security of a loving home? They give them lots of hugs, bring Christmas gifts, listen to their stories and share the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All this attention adds up to an enveloping cloud of love. Also, returning to the same orphanages helps to foster trust in the children.
Siberia in the winter? It was zero degrees most days, but that was the first ministry destination for Shannon, Brittany and two other band members, plus dad Ron as “roadie.” After their outreach concerts in frigid Siberia they were told that their band posters remained frozen to telephone poles for quite a while.
The needs of Russian orphans and youth were, to Shannon, almost overwhelming, so during the summers of 2007 and 2008 she and her family spent four months total ministering in the Moscow area.
They visited various orphanages outside of Moscow, sometimes traveling by train for eight hours. A train trip that might appear miserable to others generated excitement in Shannon: “Every time I embark on the crowded, warm and sticky overnight train…I get excited that again the Lord has blessed me with an opportunity to return.”
The farewells at the train station last summer were difficult for several Russians whose lives had been changed by their new belief in Jesus Christ. Shannon recalled, “As our train began to pull out of the station, some of the younger men ran alongside the tracks until they could no longer keep up.”
Having worked five years in a ministry that smuggled Bibles into Eastern Europe before the crumbling of the Berlin Wall, I understand the great value of Russian religious freedom. During that time, I never would have dreamed that one day Russians would be able to hear a song about Jesus in a city park. However, it may be a fragile freedom; in the delicate eggshell of our world no one can predict the future, but for now, the Gospel of Jesus can be shared confidently and openly, even from nightclubs in the bustling heart of Moscow.
The ministry team is filling small backpacks for the orphans this Christmas and items are still needed. For further information, e-mail [email protected].
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