Monday, February 21, 2011

Epidemic AIDS

This video represents the area of Africa where our church supports a village of 56 orphaned children who have had their lives turned upside down from the HIV/AIDS pandemic. As you can tell by this video, this very area of Namibia has been one of the hardest hit areas of the continent. I have spent time at this village back in the Summer of 2009. I took several teenagers with me. You can see a video diary of the trip on YouTube. Just look for my YouTube profile under "ssurttocs". You can also see a lot of pictures from that trip on my Facebook profile. I consider these African teens as an extension of my youth group. I love them dearly and think about them just about everyday. I am excited to let you all know that I am taking a new team over there this Summer. Our team will consist of 5 teens from our church who attend Loveland High School, a University of Cincinnati medical student, a couple from another church and another pastor from the church I serve at along with her grandson. These teens have all done several mission trips with me locally and nationally. They are ready to experience missions in Africa. I believe strongly that this experience could have a life impacting change on my team. I also believe that they will make a huge spiritual difference in the lives of the kids and teens that they will quickly become friends with at the Children of Zion Village. The reason I am telling you all this is two-fold.

First of all, I am asking you to please begin praying for us as we prepare to go into one of the darkest areas of Africa in connection with the devastation of AIDS. This trip can really have a life changing impact on my teenagers. Pray for their safety but that God will also open their eyes to his mission. That they would experience God in a way that is profound and life-changing.

Secondly, I would like to offer the opportunity for you to help support my team. Each one of my teens needs to raise approximately $3,500.00. This is a daunting task for anyone. But for a High School Sophomore or Junior this can seem like an impossible task. And they know it. They, like Peter, are attempting to step out of the boat in faith because Jesus is calling them to go. They are trusting that through hard work and prayer, that God will supply their needs to be able to go. I am asking you, my friends outside of the church I serve, if you would be willing to financially support our team. It would be a tremendous blessing if they found out that adults who have preceded them in going on mission trips with their church when they were teenagers would now be willing to share the experience by giving a gift that will help the team achieve their financial goal as a team. If you would like to help support please send it to:

Epiphany UMC
Attn: Pastor Scott Russ/COZV Gift
6635 Loveland-Miamiville Road
Loveland, OH 45140

Thank you for your time and consideration of this very important experience in the lives of teens I am currently discipling. There are a lot of you out there that I have had the privilege of serving you as your youth pastor. Please consider this as an opportunity to "pass it forward" with what you learned from going on retreats and mission trips as you went through high school! There are many of you who are friends of mine from the past or we have become internet/Facebook friends over the years. This invitation is open to anyone who feels lead to respond! Thanks again and please begin praying for us as we have begun the task of studying, reading and working out all of the details to make this trip happen.

Also, if you made it this far into this post, I will share with you that the pictures taken on this YouTube video were in the villages that many of our kids come from who are now in the Children of Zion Village. If you want to check out more about the ministry itself you click here.

Scott Russ

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