— that’s Russian for “A touch of Love. An impression of Faith. A mission of Compassion,” and exactly what Sylvania native husband and wife team Phillip and Lisa Wurster provide through Friends of Russian Orphans (FORO).
After going through the process of adopting a child from Russia in 2001, the Wursters witnessed the state of orphans and orphanages in Russian and saw an opportunity to provide practical, emotional and spiritual assistance to these special boys and girls and their caregivers from across the globe in America.
“When we adopted Peter in late 2001, we were immediately aware of what a tremendous gift we had been given by God and the Russian people with the privilege of adopting a remarkable little boy,” says Lisa. “As we contemplated the gift we had been given, we wondered how we could express our thanks to God and the Russian people for our great gift.”
Did you know that more than 700,000 Russian children are institutionalized in orphanages, and close to half of these children turn to crime, suicide, and destructive lifestyles once they come of age? Neither did the Wursters, until they did the research, visited Russia to adopt their own son, and learned the truth.
In 2002, the Wursters formed FORO, an Ohio non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian charitable organization. “We did our due diligence about the existence of orphan aid organizations and concluded that there clearly was a need for more work to be done,” Lisa says. Initially, it was just Lisa and Phillip, but as they became more involved and passionate about the work they were doing and shared this with others, friends and members of the community joined in to help. “We created a legal organization, solicited a Board of Directors, established contacts in Russia—and prayed.” Now, FORO has a 12 member board of directors working from both America and Russia, and numerous volunteers.
FORO now donates to, organizes programs and support for, and keeps fifteen Russian orphanages in their thoughts and prayers. Friendship programs include assistance with special medical concerns, spiritual guidance, scholarships, vocational training, and “Journeys of Joy,” a special program where American families host a Russian orphan for two weeks, providing the experience of the benevolent warmth and sturdy foundation of family life for those unfortunate enough to have never experienced it. But the benefits aren’t only seen through the eyes of the orphans. Host families are gifted with the special blessings and repercussions of selfless generosity and unconditional love.
Lisa, a Managing Attorney for the Dana Corporation, a Sunday School Teacher and an active Sylvania community member, and Phillip, an attorney in a private Toledo practice with a focus on municipal law and adoption and founder of the domestic and international adoption agency Spirit of Faith Adoptions – have four children, two adopted from Russia.
“Adopting a child from Russia was probably the most life-changing event —even more so than becoming a biological parent,” says Lisa. “It led directly to the creation of FORO, (and) now it’s a major part of our lives and has enriched us in ways unimagined…”
The Wursters dream of expanding their organization with more programs and orphanages with the help of donations and funding, but right for right now they are glad to be a part of these Russian children’s lives.
“Our pastor often reminds us that no one person can change the world, but anyone can change the world for one person,” says Lisa, and through FORO, she and her husband have accomplished just that.
If you’d like to learn more about FORO or make a donation, please visit http://www.fororphans.org or call 419-841-6971.