On the streets of Russia, during a 2001 Charis Bible College teaching trip, Nicola Appelbe, (from North Carolina) was struck by the emptiness in the eyes of the people. She had been praying about the next step after her graduation in 2002, and during that trip, God called her to Russia. After a brief argument with Him (being accustomed to the western style of life) she gave in, arriving the following January. She joined the teaching team of Charis Bible Training Center, St. Petersburg, Russia, fell in love with the Russian people, learned the language on the streets and loved mentoring the students.
Nicola soon became aware of dozens of orphanages in the St. Petersburg region. At a baby orphanage, little ones with runny noses in hand-knit sweaters and tights, desperately clamored for her attention. She began visiting orphanages with a friend, sharing God’s love with the children. At the same time another group caught her attention: every day she saw elderly women collecting beer cans from public trash cans to supplement their meager pensions. She started building relationships with elderly neighbours that last to this day.
While reading James 1:27 “Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble.” God led Nicola to start Hope for Tomorrow, a ministry that reaches out to the orphans and elderly in various facilities in Eurasia with humanitarian aid, teaching, demonstrating to them the love of God, who is their hope for tomorrow.