Anita Deyneka works with the Home for Every Orphan >> and World Without Orphans >> movements, a network of 192 national organizations in Russia and Ukraine, which is expanding to other countries. She serves on the board of Russian Ministries >>. She lives in Wheaton, Illinois, USA, and has two married children and five grandchildren.
What is your main focus in ministry and why are you passionate about it?
My late husband, Peter, and I served for many years with Slavic Gospel Association and later founded Russian Ministries. During the communist years, these two organizations focused on Bibles and Christian books and shortwave Christian broadcasts reaching the USSR. We always knew there were orphans in the USSR, but the Soviet government permitted almost no contact with these children.
After communism collapsed, we realized there were several million orphans and street children, and we longed to reach them with the gospel and humanitarian assistance. After 1991, it became possible for Christians to work in orphanages, which many organizations from the West did—primarily evangelizing and bringing much needed food, clothing, and other gifts.
As it became possible to have contact with orphans and street children, we realized that only 10% of orphans lead successful lives after they leave their orphanages (which is generally around ages 16 to 18). At least 10% of orphan graduates commit suicide, and many others are sexually trafficked, commit crimes, and become addicts.
Around 2006, the Russian and Ukrainian governments began encouraging their own citizens to adopt and foster orphans—a possibility that had never been promoted before. Christians all over Russia and Ukraine began stepping forward to offer their homes. Through Russian Ministries and Doorways to Hope/A Family for Every Orphan, we began to forge links with Russian and Ukrainian Christians who were creating networks to enable more families to adopt.
Since 2008, these efforts have resulted in placement of approximately 4,000 orphans in Christian homes in Russia and Ukraine. The Ukraine Without Orphans Alliance has become especially active, and has now been asked to help other countries that wish to embrace the World without Orphans vision.
My passion for helping orphans has also been fueled by having two children who are adopted from Colombia.
What does evangelism mean to you?
I find the meaning of evangelism to be best expressed in Mathew 28:18-20, with Jesus’ mandate to share the good news of the gospel:
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”
Tell a story of how you shared your faith in Christ and saw God woo an individual one step closer to himself.
During the communist years, sharing one’s faith in Christ was prohibited, although Soviet Christians did speak about Jesus, often at risk to themselves. On one trip to the USSR during the communist years, I became ill in the city of Krasonodar and had to be hospitalized. Only after I had been admitted to the hospital did Peter and I realize it was a cholera quarantine hospital, and I would probably be kept in the hospital for at least a week. This was my first trip to Russia, and I spoke little Russian.
There was a young male nurse, Yuri, who spoke some English. He had never heard the gospel, and he was eager to know all I could tell him about Jesus. (In our travels in the USSR, Peter and I discovered that many people in the officially atheistic Soviet Union were thirsting for spiritual reality. We told Yuri where the Protestant Church was in his city—the only church, I believe, at that time—and carefully gave him a Bible. We kept in touch with him by mail, continuing to explain the gospel. We were joyful when he told us he had come to Christ.
What is your favorite quote/scripture?
My favorite scripture is John 1:12. I was introduced to this verse, at age 10, when my vacation Bible school teacher led me to the Lord. The promises of this verse continue to be foundational in my life: “But as many as received Him, to them gave He the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name.”
As I have had the privilege of working with the World Without Orphans movement, James 1:27 has also become more meaningful to me: "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world."
How can people learn more about you and your ministry?
Go to the following websites, about organizations and movements, with which I serve.
Doorways to Hope >>
World Without Orphans >>
A Home for Every Orphan >>
ABOUT THE WORLD
What is the biggest issue the Church in your part of the world faces today and why?
Challenges to religious and other freedoms are increasing, especially in Russia, Belarus, and most of the Central Asian countries of the FSU, where there is a strong turn toward totalitarian, nationalistic governments. Proclamation of the gospel through both word and deed (as Jesus always did) is especially essential in this context. I am thankful for the privilege of working with Christian organizations reaching out to orphans.
Leadership of churches and ministries by nationals is also critical. I am thankful that Russian Ministries—an organization now led by Sergey Rakhuba, where I continue to serve as a missionary and am on the board of directors—is emphasizing training for the next generation of Christian leaders in the FSU.
What is the biggest issue the Global Church is facing today and why?
I believe that the seismic shifts to a flattened, digitalized, interconnected, interdependent world offers both the greatest challenges and the greatest opportunities for the Church today. People are now spending as much time in the “virtual” world as they are the physical world.
What is your hope for the Global Church in the next ten years?
My greatest hope is that the Church, Christ’s body, will remain true to the essentials of the gospel and carrying out Christ’s Great Commission, even as we seek God’s wisdom and creativity in finding ways to faithfully and effectively communicate the gospel.