121 World News

Plane ticket from Moscow to Dallas: $1050; Visa for coming to America: $131; Getting to spend 12 days in Texas & Arkansas with Russian friends: PRICELESS.

Twice a year, Spoken For International Youth Outreach takes groups of Americans to Russia on mission trips. However, that Russiaformula did a 180 this month. Twenty-nine Russian Fireworks youth and sponsors came to the Dallas area, kicking off a “Reverse Mission Trip.” Fireworks is a program of Spoken For that provides spiritual, physical, practical, and other needs to young people who were raised in orphanages in Penza, Russia. The youth have to leave their orphanages at age 16 or 17 with little assistance for launching into independent living. The recent reverse mission trip provided great opportunities for Russians and Americans alike. The young adults were welcomed into host homes of families from 121 Community Church and Coppell Bible Fellowship. The Americans involved in the trip represented more than ten Russiadifferent local churches.

On their first day in Texas, the team shopped through clothes donated by dozens of families prior to their arrival, filling their bags to the brim. In the afternoon, the guys headed off to SpeedZone for a fun time of testosterone-filled racing, while the girls were pampered at a “Day of Beauty” tea at Tim & Cindy Harris’ home. The following day was Sunday and everyone attended an incredible RussiaPassover service and Seder teaching by Stephen Ger at Coppell Bible Fellowship. A nine-hour road trip to Arkansas followed church. The destination in Arkansas was Shepherd of the Ozarks, a beautiful mountain resort, which was the setting for three days of Spring Break Camp. The theme for camp was Creation, with teaching from the first chapter of Genesis. God displayed His glory and power around the theme in a very unique way. On the second day of camp, the heaviest rains and worst flooding in 100 years provided a natural backdrop for the teaching. The group experienced amazing sights as they watched a trickling creek turn into roaring rapids that swept away a storage building before their eyes. While at the camp, they also braved a high ropes course and cliff swing as well as hiking and a tour of Blanchard Caverns (not to mention delicious home-cooked food and luxury accommodations).

RussiaUpon returning to the metroplex, the team went to Six Flags and got to enjoy the music, testimonies, and showmanship of Jeremy Camp and Toby Mac at the park’s Christian concert night. The next morning, the team headed to east Ft. Worth to reach out to homeless men, women, and families. Sharing testimonies, handing out water, serving food, and just chatting were among the activities for the Russians and Americans who had the privilege of visiting the shelter. RussiaOn Sunday, the group attended Easter service at 121CC then enjoyed a relaxing dinner at Golden Corral before heading to Frisco to watch the Dallas Cup soccer championship game. On their last full day in the States, they shared lunch in the cafeteria with students at Faith Christian School. After lunch, the guys took off to the locker room and soccer field to prepare for an exhibition game with the State Champ Faith soccer team. The bleachers filled up quickly as the student body traded science lessons for cheering. That evening, the Russian visitors hosted an Open House, complete with Russian salads, cookies, and tea. Hundreds of friends from the last thirteen years of ministry in Penza showed up to fellowship with the Russians. As the young people shared at the end of the night, it was impossible to tell who had been touched by God’s kindness more – the Russian visitors or the Americans.

Although we typically think of our mission trips starting in America and going to places faraway, this reverse mission trip proved that God is unique in His provision of letting us minister and be ministered to. I will not soon forget the sight of a young man raised in an orphanage and with very few earthly possessions taking his jacket off and handing it to a homeless man on the streets of Ft. Worth.

::Lori Bond

NOTE: To see pictures of the trip or get more information on the Fireworks program, visit the Spoken For website.


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