Ted Jackson makes regular trips to Russia with Faith Lutheran Brethren Church in Briarcliff Manor to help care for children in orphanages and spread the word of God. Jackson says his sons inspired him to help. His older son Chris had already visited with the church group. When his younger son Bryan wanted to go, Jackson was out of excuses. “I was hooked from the minute I met the kids over there. They melt your heart.”
Jackson, who works as an engineer at the Edith Macy Center in Briarcliff Manor and lives in town, spends his time while in Russia at three different orphanages and does a vacation Bible school. He says, "The main thrust is to show these kids love. … God’s love shows through.”
Using translators throughout the week, Jackson finds that the most important messages don’t need any words at all. “The kids can’t wait to see you come. You promised, and you really did come back,” he says, explaining that he has been back four times. His wife, Lynne, has gone three times.
Each time the group members travel to Russia, they bring items to the children that have been donated by the church and the community. On one visit, they had enough funds to buy every child a new pair of sneakers. “We bring things we take for granted. People donate all kinds of things to the trip, such as socks, pens, underwear, gum and toys.” Each traveler also raises funds for the trip to cover their flight, hotel and food during the weeklong stay.
Jackson, who has come to love the country and its people, keeps in touch with his interpreter, Sasha, throughout the year and considers him a good friend. In the end, Jackson says he learns more from the visits than the kids do. “The first time I went I had preconceptions in my mind. It turns out these kids ministered to me.”