Deep in the Heart of Russia! A Family Mission Trip of a Lifetime!

by David Quine and George Clay

Recently George Clay, board member of the Texas Home School Coalition, and his daughter, Elizabeth, accompanied David Quine of the Cornerstone Curriculum Project and two of his daughters, Betsy and Blessing, as they participated with the Josh McDowell Ministry Operation Carelift 2000. It was a three-week mission trip to the former Soviet Union. David explained that this time may have been the best learning opportunity they have ever provided for their children! It was three weeks of intense ministry and discipleship. They prayed together, studied the Bible together, shared their testimonies together, explained the Gospel together, laughed together, cried together, played together, and worked together. They did things they had never done before! For three weeks all concerns of American life were set aside. Their focus was upon knowing Jesus and making Him known! Because David and his wife Shirley have never felt the leading of God to send their children to a foreign country for several weeks with a young youth pastor, their children had never been on a mission trip.

Operation Carelift 2000
Operation Carelift 2000 provided a unique opportunity for home school families to reach out with the love of Christ. Together they visited eighteen different locations such as schools, orphanages, hospitals, and soup kitchens–bringing food and clothing to help meet physical needs and then sharing the love of God made known through Jesus Christ! The response was overwhelming!

David reports about a very cold, dreary morning in late January, “After more than an hour-long bus ride, we trudged through snow and ice to an old building used as an orphanage. We were assigned to a gym class. As we entered the room, forty or more eyes were poised and waiting with anticipation—what would these Americans have to say?”

To share with the Russian children a little about his own culture, George began to teach them Deep in the Heart of Texas. “After three or four verses,” continued George, smiling, “they were hand-clapping and foot-stomping in unison. We then shared pictures from home and the gospel using a gospel bead bracelet that we’d handed out to each child and teacher. David wore a black cowboy hat and I had on a white cowboy hat. So we used the bad guy (black hat) and good guy (white hat) act to show how sin could be washed white as snow as a person enters into a personal relationship with Christ.”

At the conclusion of the presentation, George asked: “Would you like to receive Christ?” All of a sudden the children began to say out loud, “Kanechna! Kanechna! Kanechna!” David turned to Betsy and Blessing and asked, “What are they saying?”

“Dad, they are all saying ‘Of course!'”

Imagine how they all felt! This response to the Gospel was repeated day after day as they went from site to site.

Joining with other Home School Families
The Clays and Quines were joined by other home schoolers from Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Indiana, Louisiana, and Washington-moms with their children, fathers with their daughters, and entire families. One father said, “I have never participated in a more meaningful ministry!” Though each home schooling family was different, they had one thing in common: the desire to tell others about Christ! They were bringing hope where there was only heartache, love where there was only loneliness, and faith where there was only fear! This was truly a unique opportunity. They were able to touch the lives of literally thousands of children. They left a Russian translation of the Gospel of John for each child to read on his own.

Thinking back on the experience, Blessing Quine said, “I learned that, although we speak different languages, although we have different cultural heritages, and although we live almost half way around the world from each other, in and through Christ all barriers are broken down!”

As George reflected back on Operation Carelift 2000, he said, “I was humbled by seeing the contentment of a people who have so little hope (by American standards). I think I was seeing how a real church family works–people helping people, even when they don’t have anything themselves. These people would have given the ‘coat off their backs’ to someone in need. The gratefulness expressed by the people was overwhelming-I didn’t want to leave. I had a note from a family thanking me for a postcard I’d sent them; they couldn’t believe I would take the time to write them with all I had going on. They went on and on and on about how joyful it made them feel to get my note.

“As we would minister at a school or orphanage, people would disappear and come back bearing gifts for us, something for us to take back to remember them by. There was a time-actually several, but one in particular-where a couple of young girls grabbed hold of my daughter; and as we were pulling away in the bus, they were running alongside waving. My daughter was weeping over leaving them behind. This was a daily occurrence with our bus.

“Then there was the young man who took off his medal and pinned it on my shirt. Maybe he thought I was his hero, but he was the one deserving of a medal; he wore the badge of love like I haven’t seen before.”

All the home school families agreed that ministering together as a family will have a profound effect upon the whole family. These will be treasured memories that parents and children will hold dear to their hearts for a lifetime. Though the Clays and Quines are back in the United States, they find their minds, hearts, and conversations often wandering back to the Russian children, remembering their smiling faces as they learned of a loving, heavenly Father.

A home school father from Pennsylvania expressed it this way, “It is both a spiritual and an educational experience that cannot be equaled. We all have learned so very much from the experiences we had in Russia. This education could never be replaced by books. For instance, we read about the people and the places of Russia before our trip. Now, we know them personally and will not forget. A missions trip enabled us to experience things like schools, hospitals, and orphanages, as well as develop personal relationships with interpreters and families as we visited homes. I don’t believe rich experiences such as these take place on an educational or sight-seeing trip. This trip has proven to be an educational experience that we will cherish forever.”

Teddy Bears Reach Deep into the Hearts of Russian Children
In addition to sharing the gospel, the group was able to hand-deliver books and gifts from American families. Teddy bears were provided by Christians all over the United States. What happens when you give a child a teddy bear for the first time? Elizabeth, Betsy, and Blessing saw firsthand!

“Their eyes light up and smiles spread across their entire faces,” explained the girls.

The gift of a teddy bear brings such joy, especially to a child in need. David explained, “Our hearts were warmed as we would place a little bear into the arms of a waiting child! We know that these little bears will be a continual reminder to these children–first, a reminder that families in America care for them and are praying for them; and more importantly, that the infinite, personal God of the universe loved them enough to send two dads and their daughters almost half way around the world to tell them of Jesus Christ!”

The Clays and Quines saw God use their daughters every day in the lives of many children. Betsy Quine recently received the following letter from a dear Russian girl who served as one of their interpreters:

Dear Betsy!
I’ve got your letter and pictures. Thank you so much. I’m sorry I haven’t written to you for a while. But I had a hard time here. My grandfather died and I had to go to my mother’s relatives for a while. It was hard. I know that you turned 20 in February. And I know that it’s too late to wish happy birthday, But I ask God to bless you and to bless in a very special way. I wish God would use me to influence other people’s lives as He uses you. I’m so grateful to Him that He gave that chance to minister with you that winter.

I was so discouraged, tired and hopeless, but He changed everything. Your words gave me peace and courage, my faith has grown. And I know that it wasn’t you, it was God, but He did it through you. Please, pray for me. I need it so badly. I need the faith that Peter walked on the waters, and I need to be able to keep it to the end.

Say Hi from me to your family.

I love you. And thank you so much for your prayers and support.

Love, ____________

Paul taught Timothy, who would, in turn, teach faithful men who would teach others. David explained that, as their children minister with them, as they see their parents depend upon God, as they step out to depend upon Him for themselves, God will use them in the lives of others like this Russian girl.

Educational and Cultural Opportunities Enrich Time Together!
“We were seated in the seats of the Czar of Russia!” said Betsy, glowing with joy.

Many of the group’s evenings were free to explore and experience the rich culture and heritage of the Russian people. They took advantage of every waking moment! One evening they attended the ballet at the Marrinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia. This theatre is perhaps the richest in cultural heritage of any theater in the world.

They arrived early so as to experience as much of the opportunity as possible. There was an air of excitement as they entered through the old wooden doors to see the lobby lighted by beautiful chandeliers. It was here that Tchaikovsky first introduced many of his famous and favorite ballets! The only seats that were available that evening were in the box reserved for the Czar! The group was seated in the front row in the middle four seats, “…just like kings and queens!” exclaimed George. “We were part of history, knowing that before the Russian Revolution these would have been the seats of the Romanovs! Little did the man who sold us the tickets know but that we were sons and daughters of the King of Kings!”

Ballets, operas, folk dances, evening walks through the city, and dinner in the homes of Russian families completed what may have been the best three weeks George and David had ever spent with their daughters! One daughter confided that every prayer that she had prayed before the trip was answered! Can a mother or father ask any more?!

Now Is the Time
Begin praying now about your participation in a family mission trip. For Operation Carelift 2001, now is the time to begin raising your support. If you are drawn by God to participate in such an outreach, the Lord will provide the finances to do His will. For more information about future mission trips to the former Soviet Union, please contact David Quine. The mailing address is Cornerstone Curriculum, 2006 Flat Creek Place, Richardson, Texas 75080. He may be reached by telephone at 972-235-5149 or via e-mail at

George Clay, from Bowie, Texas, is the husband of Dana and father of three adult home schooled children. Mr. Clay also serves as the finance committee chairman on THSC’s Board of Directors.

David Quine and his wife Shirley live in Richardson, where they have been homeschooling their nine children since 1980.