Archive for September, 2013

Advances in Russia in regard to the education of children with special needs

St. John of Kronstadt

The last post elaborated on lingering bad attitudes in Russia toward children with disabilities, in which people in authority have tended to write them off. But here is an article from earlier this year which shows real progress in that regard. The article, from Russia: Beyond the Headlines, Feb. 13, 2013, by Svetlana Smetanina, is entitled

Giving all children the right to learn

The article reveals that a law was about to be passed which would empower parents who have a child (or children) with disabilities to place the children in a public school.

There is also a description of Moscow Technical High School 1540 which has been admitting, socializing, and teaching children with autism spectrum disorders for some time now.

Concern is expressed as to the readiness of public schools for incorporating children with special needs, given the lack of training most teachers have in addressing these needs. The schools are being resistant in regard to the order.

Lord willing, love will win in this matter.

St. John of Kronstadt, a great Saint from Russia, had learning problems at first, but overcame them, by prayer and by effort. In his own words, from the weblog Mystagogy:

autobiographical writings of St. John of Kronstadt –

Also, a self-advocacy group in Kaliningrad,  Russia:

Apparel: Kaliningrad Association of young disabled people

And here is some recent activity by the Association: Winners of the Social and Cultural Projects Contest … – Lukoil  (APPAREL is second on the list).

icon from the website of  St. John of Kronstadt Russian Orthodox Memorial Church

St. Paul: Weaker members are indispensible!

From  “Orthodoxy and the World“: a Russian Orthodox Church Website:

Do We Need Sick Children?

translated into English from Russian by Anastasia, May 3, 2007 – A Report on the issue of adequate socialization and adaptation of disabled children. 

This title is shocking; perhaps it is just a matter of the choice of words in translation; it would seem from the article itself that what Anastasia means by “sick children” really should be translated “children with chronic disabilities.”  Nevertheless, Anastasia goes on to demonstrate that in Russia many of the authorities who could be making a difference in the lives of these children simply write them off, simply because “they will always be this way.” This is truly a tragic mentality for a country known for its rich Orthodox Christian heritage. 

Russian Institution

She reports that (as of 2007) most chidren with disabilities live on “reservations,” institutions which are generally in remote rural areas, away from where most people live, which makes it difficult for families to visit.

Two more web pages which describe the situation (the first is brief, the second more scholarly): Russia’s lost children waiting to be found & A Socio-Spacial Analysis of the Mentally Disabled Population in Russia

Anastasia contends that help must first be given to the entire family of the child with disability, as the stress of trying to care for this child in such a generally unsupportive environment is very heavy and wearing, especially for the mothers.

Anastasia goes on to speak of the situations of individual children with disabilities, Max and Sophia, and quotes a twelve year old’s diary. The positive efforts of ministries such as Our Sunny World (Solnechny Mir) are cited, but are said to be far and few between in Russia

Also brought forth are Elder Paisios of Mt. Athos’ supportive words in regard to the worth of persons with disability, as well as the potent words of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will say to the faithful on the Day of Judgement: “I was sick you visited me.” These are the words we want to hear on that Day, and not the other, dreadful words to the contrary  which will speak to the dreadful reality of separation from Divine life to those who will hear them.

As St. Paul the Apostle says, in his first letter to the Corinthians 12: 19-22,

If all were a single organ, where would the body be?  As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable … 

1 Cor.12:19-22 quoted from Bible Study Tools: 1 Corinthians
Picture from “Why would you want a defective child?”

God is glorified! An Art Show and a Theater Performance by children with disabilities in Belarus

A Manifestation of God”s Glory through children with mental handicaps

or, literally God’s Glory Shines through the eyes of children

from the weblog Bathed in Silent Night

At the Monastery of St. Elizabeth the Royal Martyr, an art show and a play, both by children with disabilities:

The Art Show

Even the most sophisticated artists appreciated the talent and the authenticity of the exhibited works when they noticed the transformation of the empty walls. Vivid and saturated colours, unexpected combinations of lines and shapes… 

The Play, (or Plays) a performance of the theatre “Pcholka” (“A Little Bee”) 

… the performance did not consist of fairy tales or children’s songs. The small theatre raised serious Christian and general issues. Moreover, it was giving answers to them. … The short plays used symbols to voice the issues of attention and loneliness, help and mercy, love towards one’s neighbour and compassion. ….

Small fingers of the children represented plants, fish, animals, birds, flowers, people, and ships… All this using only their hands. At the end of this part of their performance the children sent small planes made from paper to the audience. Each paper plane had warm greetings and wishes inside.  ….

the talented children … were the patients of the boarding home for children with special needs.

Fr. Andrew (photo by Daria L.)

“Fr Andrew says:  
 Children also show their sins, they may be capricious from time to time but they are not cunning, sly, they do not collect sins like adults do, they forget and forgive and go on to play. They are not filled with sins. An adult, on the contrary, has a hardened heart filled with sins. A person cannot defeat his passions using only his own power. He needs help, he needs the Holy Church, he needs love, which gives him an opportunity to take a deep breath, to get rid of his own “I”, and to get into that Yonder Land, even for a moment.”

See also Unusual Theatre for Unusual Children

offerings for our brethren the poor

Dr. Susan R. Holman has written three book on the subject of the Church,  the poor, and almsgiving: The Hungry Are Dying: Beggars and Bishops in Roman Cappadocia. (2001) Wealth and Poverty in Early Church and Society. (2008) & God Knows There’s Need: Christian Responses to Poverty (2009). See Goodreads: Susan R. Holman’s Books & In Communion: “God knows there’s Need”

A dietitian and a theologian, she is currently a senior writer at the Harvard Global Health Institute: Susan R. Holman

So she knows her stuff. She has researched very thoroughly these subjects. I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at the The Sophia Institute’s 2009 Conference entitled Lord When Did We See You Hungry? Philanthropy and Social Compassion in Eastern Christian Tradition Her keynote address was entitled “On the Ground: Realizing an ‘Altared’ Philoptokea; Cappadocian Insights.” 

Now before you are thoroughly intimidated by her scholarly depth, I would like to introduce you to a humble one-page blog post in which she addresses the subject in a way that I’m sure the vast majority of readers will be comfortable with.  She quotes and summarizes St. Gregory the Theologian and St, Gregory of Nyssa, fourth century bishops. These two Church Fathers, along with St. Basil the Great, were known as the Cappadocian Fathers, and were the key theologians that championed the present day version of Nicene Creed as we know it in the Orthodox Church.

And as bishops and shepherds of God’s flock they also concerned themselves with the full range of human need which they encountered personally.  Their words on this crucial responsibility of almsgiving are not to be ignored.  If we dare to consign them and their exhortations to an ancient time divorced from our modern situation, we simply divide the Church into then and now. We would also be dividing Christ. For just as Christ, according to the epistle to the Hebrews, is the same yesterday, today, and forever, so is the Church and her Holy Fathers and their teachings.

The Post:  Joseph’s Corner: The Fathers Speak on Entitlements for the Poor 

Read, and be challenged, and greatly edified!

Picture from Joseph’s Corner

A course on practical ministries (to persons with disability, etc.)

Our Lord Jesus Christ heals the sick and raises the dead

Robert D. Hosken is an Orthodox Christian who is a Professor at the Moscow Evangelical Christian Seminary. His wife Cheryl Hosken has a B.S. degree in Rehabilitation Counseling, Their goal is the formation of multiple Agape Restoration Centers, in which Orthodox Christians and Protestant Evangelical Christians serve those in need, with a focus on  the rehabilitation of persons with disabilities. He has created an on-line course on Practical Ministries toward that end.

Access the course here:

Welcome to our course on “Practical Ministries”

You will also find at this website a treasure trove of information: a Biblical Learning CenterDiscover Original Christianity, Agape Restoration Society, a link page including Rehab and Charity Resources, a page on the life and writings of St. John Chrysostom, and quite a bit more.

Here are some personal rehabilitation stories and an invitation to help:

Supporting a Person or Project Through Agape Restoration Society

(The icon pictured is from this page.)

And here also is his personal blog, and a post entitled Is There a Right Way to Worship?

He also has a Facebook page, if you would like to invite him to be your Facebook friend, and communicate with him: Facebook: Robert D. Hosken

The Ministry Driven Church


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