- Where Are They Now? -
Russia is a land of dichotomies. The stunning, gold-capped onion domes of the orthodox churches are a bright contrast to the bleak rows of gray, crumbling concrete apartment buildings that are home to the average citizen. The high-fashion, old rich read Snob magazine in their opulent homes, daily passing alcoholics lying in the streets. The Russian people are passionate about life, beauty, and art but have been stripped of hope and security through a dark and violent history of barbaric rule, seventy years of godless communism, and a highly unstable economy that encourages people to “live it up now because we might not have it tomorrow.”
On the streets of Russia, during a 2001 Charis Bible College teaching trip, Nicola Appelbe from North Carolina was struck by the emptiness in the eyes of the people. She had been praying about the next step after her graduation in 2002, and during that trip, God called her to Russia. After a brief argument with Him (being accustomed to the Western style of living), she gave in, arriving the following January. She joined the teaching team at Charis Bible Training Center, St. Petersburg, Russia, fell in love with the Russian people, learned the language on the streets, and enjoyed mentoring the students.
Nicola soon became aware of dozens of orphanages in the St. Petersburg region. At one orphanage, little ones with runny noses, dressed in hand-knit sweaters and tights, desperately clamored for her attention. She began visiting other orphanages with a friend, sharing God’s love with the children. At the same time, she started giving to some of the babushkas (“grandmothers”) who daily collect beer cans from public trash bins to supplement their meager pensions. She built relationships with elderly neighbors that last to this day.
Last summer, while reading James 1:27, “Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction,” God led Nicola to start Hope for Tomorrow. It is a ministry that reaches out to the orphans and elderly with humanitarian aid, teaching, and demonstrations of the love of God, who is their hope for tomorrow.
To learn more about Nicola Appelbe, visit her website at www.NicolaAppelbe.com.