Home. It’s a place of residence, refuge, belonging, and love. It’s a place that many children in Taraz, Kazakhstan have never been. They have had no way to get there. There has been no mother or father to carry them over the threshold. They have no memories of familiar meals, or of time spent being mentored in a skill, no happy holidays. No sibling squabbles or inside jokes. They are the orphans, the lowest rung in an impoverished culture, and without a home or family, they have been also without hope. Until now.
The J127 Ranch will provide that safe, loving community for the orphans of Taraz. It will be a place of haven and hope, where they can be surrounded by gifted adults who are committed to pouring into their lives so that they can heal and become whole while learning to build productive lives. More than simply meeting basic physical needs, the Ranch will also address the children’s spiritual, emotional, medical, and educational needs. The goal is to provide children with a solid foundation along with the vocational and spiritual training they need to fulfill God’s call on their lives.
I can’t tell you how excited I am to tell you about the J127 Ranch in Kazakhstan. The need to reach out to the orphans there is beyond description. While orphans who “age out” of the system everywhere typically don’t do well, in Kazakhstan fewer than 10% of those leaving orphanages will ever build a life for themselves. One-third of them will be dead in five years. Their culture, combined with overall poverty, makes this a very hard place to work successfully. It is also a very difficult place for Americans to help out, because we don’t relate well, and sending money is not usually a good plan. Donations to orphans in Kazakhstan generally don’t help. The caregivers are so poor themselves, they take the donations home with them instead of leaving them at the orphanages. Some orphanage officials are corrupt and see the donations as their own. The Director and Nurse of the orphanage at the time Joshua lived there were recently arrested and convicted of selling babies, so that particular orphanage was even more corrupt than average. Gifts often are resold immediately. This looks horrible from an American perspective, but it’s easier for us to judge them because our children are well fed and cared for. The caregivers in the orphanage are not well off either. In their minds, why should an orphan have shoes and food while their own children are hungry and don’t have shoes either? Besides that, while poverty is an aspect of the struggle, ultimately money and wealth are not the keys to these kid’s futures. It’s the lack of bonding, of family support, of guidance that makes their situation so dire. We’ve spent the five years since we left there praying for the kids we left behind, and unable to do much of anything else about them. We are haunted by the knowledge of their situation, and that our precious Joshua, if he had survived to this point, would be one of them. These kids matter. They are important. They are redeemable. They just need help.
The praying has worked out, because God has called trusted, faithful people who know the culture, the language, and are experienced and connected to step out in faith and found the J127 Ranch. The vision is clear, funding is coming in, workers are called to go, and the team is forming in ways that only God could orchestrate. The founders, Beth and Victoria, have lived and worked for years in Kazakhstan and have already made such a difference, but now they are going back in as a new organization that will not just be visiting orphans, but transforming them, in a full time setting. In a home.
I am so humbled that we can assist in this endeavor. Paul and I (and all
of the kids) are committed to supporting the Ranch. We’re helping with
prayer, funding, computer skills, writing skills, and publicity. We implore you to do so as well. Right now they are looking for more monthly partners who will give $25/month to support the work. Maybe you’re called to go and help, on a short or long term basis. Maybe you have special knowledge or skills you can share. Please, speak up. Click on the links. Children are waiting now who urgently need help; I will be telling some of their stories, so you can get a better idea of what an impact you could have in the lives of these kids. There is finally a way to radically change the lives of orphans in Taraz, and you can be a part of it too. Please consider praying, giving, and going.