Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Harbor, reaching the aging out orphans of St Petersburg,Russia

We had the honor of meeting  a man named Alex  Krutov about 4  years ago, we've seen him several times since. Alex is co founder of  an outreach ministry called THE HARBOR in St Petersburg Russia.  The Harbor is a home and school for the orphans of Russia. The main goal is the orphans who are aging out of the Russian social welfare system and who will be turned out onto the streets to fend for themselves, but who more often than not end up mixed up in drugs, thevery, prostitution, hopelessness, jail and suicide. Alex was dropped into a trash can by his mother when he was an infant. He was a street orphan,  put in the orpahange system, he was adopted by  Russian family who turned out to be abusive and drug users. He ran away  at about  age 10, back into the streets: for years. Along the way God was setting the stage for Alex to encounter  Himself. Back in the orphanage system but about to age out, a family in Arizona who worked with  The Navagators ( Bible study ...memorization focus folks) heard about Alex, and were asked by missionaries who'd met Alex if they would want to sponsor a Russian boy who was troubled, but had, they felt potential. LOTS OF RED TAPE later  and Alex came to the USA...........He's 32 now, with no trace of Russian accent, but a bit of a Southern drawl from time spent with folks in the  USA South, although still fluent in his native language. God called Alex BACK to Russia to minister to those who are still like he was.  A couple whose last name is Cathey had a vision for  a ministry of out reach with older Russian orphans............  and here is where God put Alex . He is a passionate and animated speaker. He knows his Lord and knows Him well.  It s obvious that Alex is well known to the Lord. Alex  knows the Word and knows It well. He knows what God saved him from and to and it is what makes him "pound the table and weep" as he works in Russia and as he shares his ministry traveling around the world.   As the mom to 6 originally orphaned children, Alex's story touches me so deeply. As his sister-in-Christ I am challenged to keep telling others about the need for Godly people to get involved in reaching orphans, and as a Believer in Jesus, I am thrilled at how God found this messed up, unwanted boy and turned a small pile of ashes into something beautiful  which is having an impact far beyond  his home town of St. Peterburg Russia . God is using Alex to change the demographics of Heaven itself as he shares his faith, shares his life and leads young Russian people to a saving knowledge of Jesus !                                                                                          
                                                         MEET   THE HARBOR

The Harbor…taking young adult orphans off the streets of Russia and helping them successfully integrate into mainstream life.

Find the lost and forgotten orphans of the Russian state system who have a desire to succeed and develop them in such a way that they are anchored in life and launched into a sustainable future.


Numbers help illustrate the grim reality…

Russia has 10 million children-at-risk. Once they turn seventeen, orphans are moved out of institutions and forced to make a way for themselves. Most don’t succeed. The result? More orphans and street children in Russia today than in the years following World War II.
135,000 children are orphaned every year.
Between 10,000 and 15,000 orphans leave the Russian state orphanage system annually.
An estimated 40% of post-institution orphans become alcohol and drug addicts, 40% end up in the criminal world, and 10% commit suicide.

The Harbor immerses young adult orphans into small holistic communities providing:
Practical Formation

Harbor staff model and coach residents in life skills such as cooking, nutrition, personal hygiene, budgeting, housekeeping, and family living.

Spiritual Formation

A Russian pastor provides encouragement in the journey of finding God and meaning in life.

Emotional and Relational Formation

Psychologists help participants wrestle with their unique issues in individual and group sessions.

Educational Formation

Staff members guide participants through completion of their high school education and eligibility for technical college or university studies.

Vocational Formation

Professionals provide basic competency in technology, carpentry, English, sewing, and cosmetology.

HOW Does this work?

Most donors today are familiar with the concept of exponential growth versus linear growth. Nevertheless, it is interesting to think about again. If you were to reach 1000 kids’ lives each year, in ten years you would have reached 10,000 kids. But if you reached only 12 in two years and those kids reached another 12 in two years and so on exponentially, you would reach 248,832 kids in the same ten year period.
We all want to reach the most people possible with the good news of Jesus Christ. But what does it mean to really “reach” someone? For us, this means to befriend, invest in, love, journey with, and live out the good news to someone, as well as tell them about it. We would probably all agree that this is impossible to do with more than a few people at any given time
This strategy – investing deeply in the lives of a few – was the Lord’s strategy and model to us as he worked with his disciples. The Harbor is committed to ministering deeply and individually to each young adult orphan. Not only will such care and development empower these orphans to reach others with Christ’s love, but it will also mirror the genuine love and attention that God demonstrates to each of us as individuals. God’s love has transformed our lives and we believe that it will transform the lives of Russia’s orphans. Will you join us?


Secure eight permanent apartments, each housing eight young adult orphans and full-time mentors.

Develop a Professional Training Center offering degrees in twelve professions.

Train leaders for 250 programs within Russia and another 100 in the other CIS nations.

Financially support the program through businesses and endowments

CATEGORY      2001        2002        2003        2004        2005        2006        2007          2008      Total

Orphans helped      4              4              8              13            13           16             16             21          74

Staff working with orphans as mentors, counselors,

trainers, pastors, administrators, and tutors
                              4              6             7                8              13           13           13            13           13

Orphans served through community service in the baby

home or orphan hospital
                            4                4            20              20           25              80           80        80          ~240

Harbor graduates 0                2             4                7            6                12            16        3                50

Individual partners 50 ~       100 ~     150 ~          210 ~     250 ~           260 ~      314 ~ 322           ~350

Church partners in Russia & America
                            2              3            3                  6             9                 11            14     14                14

Foundations/Charitable Trusts/Corporate partners
                            0             1            1                   3            4                   5               8      8                   8

I want to share with you part of the Harbor's  February 2010  quarterly newsletter. Director Melinda Cathey had this to say :
"I had a meeting with our psychologist, Natasha. We talked about our residents, the problems and progress she was seeing. She showed me some of the new techniques she was using to work with our orphans and I was astounded at her wisdom and creativity. One of the things she has discovered to be particularly powerful is videoing and photographing our residents throughout the course of their normal days. Seeing their behavior gives them a much better idea of how others see them and why others respond to them as they do. It is very fertile soil to help them begin to ask themselves, “What is going on inside of me? “ Their emptiness and sadness are eerily visible. It shocks even them. Natasha continues this personal documentary on each one and you can physically see them changing in their countenance before your eyes. What a blessing and testimony to the power of the Holy Spirit. I was on cloud-nine after this meeting!

In the days that followed I had many opportunities to interact with both current and past Harbor residents. One night at our VTC , I was asked to fill in and help teach an English class for an orphanage that we have developed a good relationship with. Varying degrees of mental delays were obvious. I spoke with the accompanying caretaker and she told me “Oh, yes, all of these kids have fetal alcohol syndrome. Most are third generation orphans and from third generation alcoholics/drug addicts.” After class we just hung out and I was listening to the kids talking. They were telling stories of violence and abuse they had witnessed throughout their lives and were laughing about it all. I thought they were recounting movies they had seen, but I was assured these were personal stories. “Oh Lord, these kids don’t have a chance!” was the honest cry of my heart. More stories of all their dabbling in the occult left me feeling very low.

I went to the kitchen to pray, process, and have some tea. As I walked in, I saw this stunning Russian beauty who looked vaguely familiar. She gave me a big smile and a warm hello. It took me a few seconds to realize this was Tanya. Wow! Talk about a transformation! As we caught up I was amazed to find out she was in her fourth year of a five year psychology program. She is studying to be a psychologist and came to get advice from Luba about how to pursue internships and what kind she should secure. I asked her how she liked school and she bluntly replied, “I love it when we are not in session!” I asked how her grades were and she said, “Fair.” Upon reflection, I realized these were the most encouraging answers she could have possibly given me. Five years ago Tanya could not think past the moment. She had no goals. She was lazy and not particularly motivated. Now, in spite of not really liking school, she was in her fourth year of a five year program! She had stuck it out. She has goals and is persevering towards those."

Maybe you'll be blessed by reading about this ministry. If you are  please remember to pray for Alex, Melinda and the other staff members of The Harbor?   Please pray for the residents ? Please pray for the far too-many orphans in Russia and the rest of our world who need places like The Harbor, orphans who need families  with opened hearts and homes in which to welcome them...families like yours and mine................


Salzwedel Family said...

Thank you for sharing about Alex and the way God is using him in this ministry. Such an inspiration and testimony to how God can radically transform a life.

Alex Krutov said...

Dear Linda,

Thank you so much for writing this wonderful blog post. It was so good to see you. I had a wonderful time fellowshiping the Lord with you this morning. May the Lord richly bless you and your family. I will be praying for you, your family and adoption process.