HopeChest Partnership Leader Spotlight: Stephanie Mutert, Velikoretskoye Orphanage, Russia

1. How did you become engaged with Children’s HopeChest?

I was attending a church that had just started sponsoring an orphanage in the Vladimir region in Russia. I was called to travel with them on their 2nd week long visit in 2003. In 2007, that orphanage was closed by the Russian Government, and I happened to be on staff in global mission and led our revision effort to sponsor in Kirov region.

Stephanie Mutert and Alyosha

2. What kind of transformation have you seen at your CarePoint/Orphanage?

The biggest we’ve seen at Velikoretskoye since 2008 is the thirst in the kids for an education and a belief in their future. Our relationships are the deepest they have ever been and we are having conversations with the kids that I never imagined having with them. Last year we talked about joy in small groups because one of the girls had asked me the year before how I have joy in situations that make me really sad. It opened a wide door into how the Gospel has transformed my life, and the visual she gets of joy is how that transformation manifests.

3. How have you seen lives in your community in the US change through traveling or sponsoring a child?

God has expanded the American perspective to Kingdom vision for so many. Having the perspective of God, Who calls us to care for the orphan and widow, drastically changes when an ‘orphan’ becomes a name and a face. It is Sasha, or Kostya, or Dima or Nastya. They become friends who have had horrible life circumstances and sadly have to grow up in an orphanage. It also becomes a story within the broad Story God is writing, and those stories are told over and over again to family and friends.

4. What is one word you would use to describe yourself?

Discerning.

5. Tell us about your favorite moment traveling to your Orphanage/CarePoint for the first time.

It was day one, hour one at Kurlovo Orphanage in Vladimir region. This little guy was our group’s shadow as we were given the tour of the orphanage. He would pop up in every single room without having followed us, or he would already be there. He was ornery, and the glint in his eye really said, ‘My middle name is trouble.’ His caregivers confirmed this many times over the years, but it was the story of where he had come from that gave me an intense desire to see him succeed. He and his brother had been taken away from their mother where they had been living on the streets. When I met him for the first time, he had only been in the orphanage for a few months. I saw how hard it is for new kids to adjust, and what impact you can have on the self-esteem of a kid that has been told forever that he will never be anything. I fell in love that first trip with Alyosha, and my life was never the same. For five years, I sponsored him, built a relationship with him, and enjoyed many adventures that I affectionately called ‘Alyosha Adventures.’

6. What are your dreams and hopes for your CarePoint?

With the thirst the kids have for continuing their education, I dream of a day where every single year each of the kids will go to university and attain an education that will give them things their parents were unable to give. There are no kids in Velikoretskoye Orphanage that are real orphans, their parents are alive, but unwilling or unable to take care of them, and this leads to my greatest hope: the kids God has called us to love with His love will know their worth, trust people around them to be loyal, and break the social orphan cycle with their own kids.

 

If you are interested in learning more about how you can get your community or church involved with Children’s HopeChest visit our Community-to-Community page.

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