I have been involved with YouthReach for just over 4 years now. I was fortunate to meet Rob Browne and his awesome family when they visited our church in Monroe, Ga. I was very impressed at the Mission Statement of YouthReach that they don't just go and try to help when they are there but more importantly, they help recruit and train Mentors who are there full time to work with these children. The ongoing, continual efforts are a major point in the success of these children learning of the love of God as well as the tools they will need to become responsible, self supporting adults. What could be better than this. I sponsor 2 youth at this time and I will continue to as long as I'm alive.
I was first introduced to YouthReach International several years ago and have been very impressed with the organization. My interest in YouthReach initially revolved around their efforts to serve the under-privileged and forgotten orphan children in Eastern Europe and Russia. The simple purity of the goal to improve the orphan's situation is very honorable. However, YouthReach's methods of going beyond simple service to providing mentoring relationships and opportunities over a long period of time is so much more! Now, having the opportunity to get to know the leadership of the organization, my resolve to regularly support YouthReach is stronger than ever. They are without reproach, which is so refreshing these days.
It is my pleasure to tell you about the fantastic nonprofit organization, YouthReach International. I have had the great pleasure of joining YouthReach for two campaigns in the past seven years.
On my first trip, I taught English at a camp for children for three weeks. Our manual for teaching English was the Bible. We taught fundamental truths to them... forgiveness, grace, love, honesty and so on. It was a tremendous opportunity for me. I was able to see that God is actively working in all countries and not just in my sheltered community. I was in high school during that time and that was the most valuable lesson that i could have ever learned. YouthReach gave me this opportunity.
On my second trip, I stayed at one of their partner orphanages in Novosibirsk. I was able to interact with the orphans as well as their mentors. It was a huge blessing to be around the mentors, men and women who have a heart for God and for children. They are living out the mission of God. They are looking after those who have no one to look out for them. These mentors provide love, commitment, hugs, and so much more.
All I can say is Praise God for the group of people that make up YouthReach International.
I have made four trips to Eastern Ukraine facilitated by YouthReach International. The first trip was to a public camp, sharing Christ with local children and orphans. The camp was formerly a Pioneer Camp that indoctrinated children in communist ideology. The second thru fourth trips were to government orphanages, all orphans. The children were glad for us to come, and we taught and played with them. Our mentors continue to visit the children, and we continue to recieve reports of children that are now out of the orphanage and attending technical school. These children have changed my life, and I continue to pray for them. Our mentors are excellent, and care about the children.
I have been on six trips to Ukraine with Youth Reach over the last five years, working with orphans in camps and in orphanages. The children have carved out a permanent place in my heart and I'm impressed by the friendship and dedication that has developed between the in-country mentors and the children in the orphanages. I have been a team leader once and co-leader twice. Youth Reach is diligent in helping to build and train teams and train the in-country mentors. I was privileged to be a part of the training of mentors in Ukraine this fall. Youth Reach stresses the on-going ministry to the children after the American teams have gone home.
I was fortunate to participate on one of the YouthReach mission trips to Siberia with several Christian friends in the St. Louis area. The experience started with the initial fellowship and learning about the other members. We really bonded and our friendship grew through the fundraising events. We attended several meetings together to prepare for the trip and by the time we actually took the trip, we were like brothers. The time with the orphans in Russia was priceless and while we were there to minister to the kids and coordinators, we were actually growing in our own faith by the awesome experiences we had individually and as a group. Rob and all the good folks at YouthReach made our trip possible and are truly paving the way for God's word to be shared around the world. I strongly encourage anyone to support the YouthReach organization in any way they can.
My family has supported YouthReach for years and we've been extremely gratified with the results of their work. Having visited with the mentors that work with the Orphans, I can tell you that these young leaders are making a significant difference in the lives of these children and truly care these kids. I highly recommend supporting YouthReach if you want to help Orphans receive much needed love and support.
I've been privileged to work with this great organization over the past 7 years. As a team member in at least 5 different camps and the coordinator of two follow-up fairs for the camps, I've had firsthand experience in what God has done through this organization. God has and is using this organization to transform the hearts and minds of children in Russia. YouthReach Int. has done a great job of equipping it's volunteers (both native and non-native) through the best training there is; and it empowers them to be effective mentors to the orphans and at-risk children they come in contact with. I've been on other short-term mission trips and YouthReach's far outweighs them all in preparation and focus.
I have been working with this amazing organization for over the past 6 years in Novosibirsk, Siberia- as a team member 3 times and a team leader twice. There are a couple of things that really stand out in my mind that make this organization set apart from so many others. First, the amount of training and preparation team members receive before going into the field really helps everyone feel very prepared and bonded with the other team members. After the trip, everyone attends a debriefing session, which greatly reduces reverse culture shock. Secondly, the focus of the organization is to empower the people who are living there so that the work continues after team members return to the states. What is done in short term trips provides a foot in the door for others to continue what has been established and is only one part of this multi-faceted ministry.
When I first signed up for a YouthReach trip back in 2005 I was pretty scared and didn't know what I was getting myself into. Spending 2 weeks in Russia at a summer camp sounded fun, but I didn't think I was ready spiritually. I was right. But YouthReach trained me and helped me grow stronger in my faith. They have a very in-depth, organized approach to building up team members. They educate you about the culture and prepare you for what you will face, both physically and spiritually. Prayer is the key to all they do. They take a long-term approach to short term missions so that the work you do has lasting consequences, both for you and the people you reach. Working with at-risk children and orphans has opened up my eyes to the very real needs of children around the world and is something I am now very passionate about. YouthReach has allowed me the chance to use my artistic talents, such as video and drawing, to shed light on the problems orphans face. Since 2005, I have been on 5 trips, going as a team member 3 times and leading a team with my wife 2 times. Leading a team is something I never thought I could do, but YouthReach gave me the courage and the tools to be an effective leader. The experience has taught me a lot about myself, both my strengths and weaknesses, and made me more confident in knowing what God wants me to do with my life.
Almost one year ago, I started what has been an amazing journey with YouthReach International. My journey started as a team-leader (in training) to lead a group of 7 Chrisitan men and women to Novosibirsk Russia. This was my first international missions experience, and I was impressed by both the passion and commitment of YouthReach staff and the carefully contructed infrastructure and missioins curriculum - tools that enabled our success. Our hearts were touched and melted as we each interacted with the children from two orphanages in Novosibirsk (St. Nich’s and Number 11). Both during and after the trip, I witnessed first hand the impact that YouthReach staff, YouthReach mentors, and short-term mentors can have and are having on orphans and at-risk children in Russia and Ukraine. We went half way around the world to try to change the life of a child and found that ours were the lives that changed. YouthReach is making a difference! Much has happened following my return from Russia; refined perspective, softened heart, invited to serve on the Board of YouthReach, and looking forward to a return trip to Russia next summer. – accompanied by my daughter Olivia (10 years old) so that she can be part of wonderful YouthReach journey.....
YouthReach has matured over the years to be a major positive influence in the lives of national mentors and orphans in Ukraine and Russia. The emphasis is on equipping nationals to do their work with children 365 days a year. YouthReach recruits, trains, inspires, organizes and coordinates the efforts of Americans and others to develop relationships with the adult mentors in Ukraine and Russia. YR has networked with in-country agencies [both governmental and private] and with business people in both countries, to heighten their awareness of what needs to be done for orphans. YouthReach conducts intensive training with the Ukrainian and Russian mentors. This matures them as individuals and provides valuable skills that pay back in everyday life. Influential American companies and agencies also have teamed with YouthReach by sending their personnel to Russia & Ukraine to conduct leadership training with the young, national adults. YouthReach builds on this networking to recruit nationals into the daily relationship needs of orphans. This goes well beyond the agencies that provide shelter, clothing, and food. These kids learn that the are important as individuals. Birthday, holidays, and other events are personally remembered. Time is taken just to play with the children, or to take them on field trips away from their orphanage. In all things Christ is lived out by the mentors into the lives of these kids. Government and private agencies in these countries now count YouthReach as a trusted partner.