This summer hundreds of US mission volunteers will head to various parts of Russia as part of Operation Carelift, an outreach of Josh McDowell Ministries. The ongoing effort is designed reach out to the people of former Soviet Union.
Operation Carelift, a subsidiary ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ International, dispatches volunteers to Russia and surrounding republics to deliver humanitarian aid to children in places of need such as orphanages, boarding schools, hospitals, and youth prisons. Volunteers typically spend two weeks during the winter and summer.
Operation Carelift president Duane Zook says there is a great openness to the Gospel among the people of the former Soviet Union. In many cases, tremendous need has created initial inroads for believers to show compassion and to share the love of Christ with the people.
Zook says there are special missions planned for Russia’s street children, and that the outreach “gives them hope. It gives them somebody who can hug them.”
He explains that most of the children targeted by the initiative do not come from stable and loving environments. “These kids don’t come from families with moms and dads who love them,” he says, “ and they’ve seen a lot of abuse. So, as these volunteers hug them and play with them, it gives them a hope for the future.”
Since 1991, Operation Carelift has provided more than 3,700 tons of aid totaling $42 million to the needy people of Russia, Belarus, and Ukraine. Over the years, Operation Carelift has been successful at gaining passage into places where local churches are largely prohibited. Last summer, volunteers visited more than 100 St. Petersburg orphanages, prisons, camps, hospitals, and baby houses, where administrators opened their doors to the Gospel as much-needed aid was delivered. Although most of Operation Carelift’s ministry has taken place in St. Petersburg, small delegations have also traveled to cities in Siberia, Belarus, and Ukraine.