Ann and Robert have been serving with East-West as full-time missionaries since 1996. Coming from a background in film and video production, Robert joined East-West as Director of Communication, and for several years provided print and video support for the ministry. Ann came from a background in early childhood education, and quickly found her place serving as Director of Children’s Ministry for East-West in the early years of their service.
In 1998, they began to partner together as a couple in an added role as team shepherds; recruiting, training, and leading hundreds of Americans into the field to partner with Russian Christians in outreaches to orphans through orphanage visits called, “Day of Joy,” and orphan camps known as, “Camp Joy.”
It was a very rewarding time for both of them as they saw God work mightily, not only as He touched the lives of thousands of Russian orphans, but as He radically transformed their lives, and the lives of the hundreds of other American and Russian Christians through whom He was working.
“In the process, He was weaving our hearts to the hearts of the children we met, particularly in the region of Voronezh, Russia. The burden of what would become of these kids once they left the orphanages became too great for us to ignore. To us, these kids were no longer masses of children or statistics, but represented relationships God was forging, with many of them putting their hope and trust in Christ.” Robert Fuqua
For Robert and Ann, there came a point on this journey where it wasn’t enough anymore to watch thousands of kids pray a prayer and then go on with their lives. They were seeing young men and women emerge from orphanages desperate for connection, desperate to belong, and desperate for purpose and a place in society. They believed that place was the Church. But, with the stigma attached to these children coming out of the institutions, coupled with the cloistered state of the Russian evangelical church, these children were not finding their place in the “holy huddle”.
Robert and Ann had spent their first decade in orphan ministry telling kids they had a Father who loved them and had a plan for their lives, a Hope and a future. In their second decade of orphan ministry, they began to ask, “If God is Father to the fatherless, then where is their mother?” They came to understand she is His Bride, the Church.
“ALL of us were created to thrive in community and these kids are no exception. This is why we do what we do, so that young people formerly known as “orphans” can find that place where not only they can be served, but can themselves serve—finding validation and affirmation by discovering the very purpose for which they were born into this world … to worship and enjoy their Bridegroom forever! “ Robert Fuqua