Religion, Spiritual Development

SPIRITUAL ORPHANS NETWORK (formerly EEMN)

Connecting Spiritual Orphans to the Global Family of Christ

aka SON NETWORK   |   Albuquerque, NM   |  http://www.SONetwork.org/

Mission

At SON Network we serve people in a part of the world that is often overlooked as a mission field. We excel at reaching spiritual orphans in the unique context of former communist nations. Relationships are at the core of all SON ministries and every mission. We invest in one on one, long term relationships that often lead to lives truly Transformed in Christ. Our missions allow for team members to begin engaging people in the Gospel almost as soon as the plane lands in country! SON Network connects North American believers with people and ministries in former communist and Soviet bloc nations in Central & East Europe, Russia, the Baltics, the Balkans, and in Ethiopia. SON is currently serving in Albania, Belarus, Estonia, Latvia, Russia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Ethiopia.

Ruling year info

1992

Executive Director

Pastor David R. Breidenbach

Main address

8210 Louisiana Blvd. NE Suite B

Albuquerque, NM 87113 USA

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Formerly known as

EAST EUROPEAN MISSIONS NETWORK

EIN

41-1731302

Cause area (NTEE code) info

Christian (X20)

Youth Development Programs (O50)

Christian (X20)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is not required to file an annual return with the IRS because it is a religious organization.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

At SON Network we serve people in a part of the world that is often overlooked as a mission field. We excel at reaching spiritual orphans in the unique context of former communist nations. The spiritual darkness and challenges of former and currently communist nations are uniquely different from more common, third-word missions destinations. While most mission organizations are focused on service and social ministries (building homes, digging wells, clothing and feeding the poor), this is often a means to an end to share the Gospel. The part of the world SON serves already provides for basic human needs and infrastructure. What is lacking is a connection to God. YOU can be that connection! Relationships are at the core of all SON ministries and every mission. We invest in one on one, long term relationships that often lead to lives truly Transformed in Christ. Our missions allow for team members to begin engaging people in the Gospel almost as soon as the plane lands in country!

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

English Language Bible Camps

SON English Bible Camps are similar in nature to a North American style Vacation Bible School (VBS). Every year, we are blessed with between 450 to 700 children, and their families, who hear (many for the first time) that there is a God who loves them and invites them to love Him in return. These are five day camps (Monday through Friday) with students arriving around 9:00 am for an opening worship session and introduction of the theme of the day. The remainder of the day is segmented with fun and interactive English sessions, and rotations of sports, crafts and music. The day ends around 2:30 with a closing session. On Friday, students will present a short skit to show friends and families what they have learned during the week, or will participate in a camp picnic to celebrate a week of new relationship with their North American teachers and Jesus Christ.

Population(s) Served
K-12 (5-19 years)
Indigenous people

Adult Education was born out of the exploratory conversations that Pr. David had with each or our partners during his first year as Executive Director, the Adult Education piece seeks to enhance the doctrinal and theological training received, by our partnering pastors, in dealing with the very real life aspects of topics such as how to effectively equip a congregation to do missions and outreach, spiritual care and making disciples. As a result, we are developing SON Regional Learning Centers in Saldus, Latvia, in Tartu, Estonia, in Odesa, Ukraine, and in Windischgarsten, Austria. It is important to clarify that this does not mean the funding and building of edifices, rather it means using already existing seminaries and cultural centers as gathering places for local pastors and lay leaders to meet, learn and fellowship with and through one another. Our focus began at St. Gregors Christian Mission Center in Saldus, Latvia. In late autumn of 2016, EEMN hosted our first Disciple Making conference, led by EEMN Adult Education Coordinator, Mike Wind at St. Gregors. In attendance were 28 pastors and lay leaders from 6 different countries. For many, this was the first time they felt edified and empowered to give voice to the notion that they were more than someone entrusted with simply leading the Liturgy and preachi

Population(s) Served
Adults
Indigenous people

SON Life and Adventure Retreats are similar to North American youth retreats. The 2020 theme is Who Am I? - My Identity as a Child of God. These are typically 5 to 6 day residential camps beginning on Saturday afternoon and ending on Thursday evening. Students meet each morning for an opening session that presents the topic for the day followed by one to two intensive small group sessions where teens are presented with ways to discuss things that concern young people (self esteem, relationships, addiction, etc.) from a Biblical perspective. Activities to break up the day are provided for students (water games, hiking, high ropes, crafts). Leaders are encouraged to participate! Evening sessions are reserved for intentional worship, testimonies, and opportunities for prayer and an invitation to know Jesus Christ more fully.

Population(s) Served
Adolescents (13-19 years)

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

SON Network equips Christian believers, here and overseas, to be more mature kingdom-builders by helping bring the Gospel to those still living in the aftermath of over three-generations of imposed Soviet scientific atheism. The people of these once thriving Christian nations, have forgotten their Christian identity and thirst to know they are called, gathered, enlightened, and sanctified children of God, in Christ Jesus!The spiritual darkness and challenges of the nations we serve are uniquely different from more common, third-word missions destinations, and so can often offer a more impactful spiritual transformation in the local peoples and in missionaries, alike. Because of our vast network of overseas and North American ministry partnerships, we are uniquely qualified to be the “one-stop shop” for all things missions in former communist and Soviet bloc nations. In order that the message of the Gospel falls onto the ears of people with whom a level of trust has been built, most Christian missions organizations seek first to build relationships through social and project ministries. SON is unique in that these relationships are built prior to sending missionaries (whether short or long term) to serve the areas to which we have been called. In the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union, the remnants of the Christian church began to try to adapt from rigid governmental control to their newfound freedom. Church leaders faced the overwhelming challenge of trying to rebuild the spiritual and moral foundation of Truth in an environment of limited resources and a culture influenced by over three generations of scientific atheism. The stark reality for most of our ministry partners is that they are given decent seminary training, but then are dropped into rural communities and told to build the Church without any true concept of what that means or how to accomplish it. To add to that challenge is one of the sobering remnants of communist society dictating that all one needs to do to be a good comrade is to follow the rules, and the government will take care of everything else. So thorough and pervasive was the indoctrination, it is completely foreign for this people group (even Eastern European Christians), to grasp the understanding that they have a stake and a responsibility in building the Kingdom through their time, talent and treasure. It is our joy and calling in the Gospel to help educate the people of these former communist and Soviet bloc nations regarding their responsibility and their privilege in building Christ’s Church here on earth.

SON Network is Connecting Spiritual Orphans to the Global Family of Christ. We do this by building relationships through Christian missions that Engage, Reclaim and Transform lives in Christ. ● ENGAGE: Engage and connect people with God’s Word ● RECLAIM: Come alongside spiritual orphans living in former and current communist nations to Reclaim their identity in Christ ● TRANSFORM: Walk with spiritual orphans from their first encounter with the Gospel to a life Transformed in Christ! SON Network equips Christian believers, here and overseas, to be more mature kingdom-builders by helping bring the Gospel to those still living in the aftermath of over three-generations of imposed Soviet scientific atheism. The people of these once thriving Christian nations, have forgotten their Christian identity and thirst to know they are called, gathered, enlightened, and sanctified children of God, in Christ Jesus! As a sending agency, Spiritual Orphans Network (formerly East European Missions Network) has placed career missionaries in Poland, Latvia, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Albania, and Turkey. We also strive to equip our international ministry partners to serve as missionaries within their own cultures. Each summer, short-term missions teams are sent to serve alongside these full time missionaries and ministry partners. We offer opportunities for North American volunteers to participate as members of short-term mission (STM) teams that serve to connect with people in former communist and Soviet bloc nations in Central & East Europe, Russia, the Baltics, the Balkans, and in Ethiopia. SON mission teams host cross-cultural English Bible Camps and schools for children, Life & Adventure Retreats for teens, and Bible Studies for adults. Overseas teaching opportunities also exist for pastors and ministry leaders in a variety of settings and terms of service, through SON Regional Learning Center Conferences. Long-term and career missionaries are also called, equipped, and sent to serve in specific kingdom-building capacities that help empower, equip, and grow the visions for ministry of our indigenous co-workers, overseas. This is how relationships are strengthened, disciples are made, and the Body of Christ is equipped for Kingdom Building.

At SON Network we serve people in a part of the world that is often overlooked as a mission field. We excel at reaching spiritual orphans in the unique context of former communist nations. Because of the 400+ year physical presence of the Lutheran Church in Central & Eastern Europe, Russia, the Baltics, and the Balkans, and as we are a Lutheran founded para-church organization, SON Network is uniquely poised to make connections with the remnant of indigenous co-workers in ministry from the historical Lutheran Church. We embrace the strength in an ecumenical witness of our life in Jesus Christ and so we gladly collaborate with Christians from other theologically conservative traditions. The goal is Engaging, Reclaiming, and Transforming Lives in Christ! For Churches You will never read or hear SON Network boasting about the number of people we “saved” during one of our missions. This is the work of the Holy Spirit by God’s grace, alone. Sometimes it can happen in an instant, but for most people, this profound transformation takes time and the patience of genuine relationship. We are in it for the “long haul” and so we spend a great deal of time investing in the relationships that have been so carefully nurtured, over time. This is where churches can become partners in ministry and where the partnership works both ways! SON Network is helping solve the challenge for church leaders who desire a catalyst for discipleship and local mission opportunities. Participants often return after serving on a SON mission team with a greater openness to intentionally pursuing spiritual growth and a vision for local mission opportunities. Short-term missions are also an effective way to rally an entire congregation to participate in global missions by sending short-term missionaries, supplying material support, and praying for those going and for those receiving the Word through mission. For Businesses We believe that our mission is founded in the Great Commission as commanded by Jesus Christ (Matthew 28: 19-20). Our vision and task is Connecting Spiritual Orphans to the Global Family of Christ. We do this by Engaging, Reclaiming, and Transforming lives in Christ! Because of our unique mission field, Spiritual Orphans Network stands out among North American Christian individuals, congregations, businesses, and leaders - from young millennials to aging baby boomers. This is where your business can become a powerful voice in Connecting Spiritual Orphans to the Global Family of Christ. By partnering with SON Network, you can engage your client base in unique and creative ways to help equip and support this generation to reach the first generation of believers in former communist nations.

The goal is Engaging, Reclaiming, and Transforming Lives in Christ! At our core is the belief that we are first and foremost Kingdom Builders on mission with Christ. We believe that our plan for mission builds the Body for those who serve and for those who are being served. In the last 25 years, the Lord has built an incredible network of pastors, congregations, missionaries and lay leaders that are the face of SON. It is not uncommon for children who have attended our language camps to come back as translators and to emerge as leaders in their congregations. Nor is it uncommon for North Americans who have taught in a camp to become more invested in their local congregations, who in turn, become more invested in world missions. Additionally, we have seen a global awakening to the understanding of what it means to live the Great Commission; specifically as it pertains to making disciples, who will make disciples, who will make disciples... SON continues to develop and nurture international partnerships that produce a strong network of people, ministries, and resources between European, African, and North American believers, and beyond. This is how relationships are strengthened, disciples are made, and the Body of Christ is equipped for Kingdom building.

In order that the message of the Gospel reaches the ears of people with whom a level of trust has been built, most Christian missions organizations seek first to build relationships through social and project ministries. The part of the world we serve already provides for basic human needs and infrastructure. What is lacking is a connection to God. SON is unique in that our missions allow for our team members to begin engaging people in the Gospel almost as soon as the plane lands in country! As a sending agency, Spiritual Orphans Network (formerly East European Missions Network - EEMN) has placed career missionaries in Poland, Latvia, Ukraine, Russia, Hungary, Albania, and Turkey. We also strive to equip indigenous Church and lay leadership to serve as missionaries within their own culture. Each summer, short-term mission teams serve with these long-term missionaries and ministry partners. Additionally, SON staff and representatives teach and preach at conferences and conventions throughout the year, all over the European continent and throughout North America. In September 1992, Pastor Don Richman founded East European Missions Network (now named Spiritual Orphans Network) during the wake of the fall of the communist Soviet Union in response to the Great Commission. The idea was to educate American Christians to minister alongside their brothers and sisters in east European churches and ultimately seeking to rebuild and equip the Body of Christ in Central & East Europe, the Baltics, the Balkans, and in Russia by the grace of the Word of God, and by the power of the Holy Spirit. Through this concept of mutual fellowship in prayer and sharing of resources, the idea of the Network began to take root. From 2004-2014, Pastor Bill Moberly served as Director, where he built upon Pr. Richman’s original vision by expanding the scope of ministry partnerships throughout North America and former Soviet Bloc nations. Pastor David Breidenbach joined the staff as Executive Director in March of 2015. Though, beginning in 2006, Pr. David and his wife, Angela, served as volunteer short-term mission team members, hosted fundraising opportunities, and led short-term summer missions teams with SON (then EEMN) to several former Soviet Bloc nations. As ministry partnerships developed well outside of east Europe and the ministry itself continues to mature beyond evangelism through English Bible Camps to a more holistic ministry that also connects and equips pastors and ministry leaders around the globe, Pastor David recognized the need to rebrand and better tell the story of what the ministry actually does: Connecting Spiritual Orphans to the Global Family of Christ. Thus, in April 2020, Spiritual Orphans Network (SON) was born! Today, SON continues to develop and nurture international partnerships that produce a strong network of people, ministries, and resources between European, African, and North American believers, and beyond.

Financials

SPIRITUAL ORPHANS NETWORK (formerly EEMN)
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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SPIRITUAL ORPHANS NETWORK (formerly EEMN)

Board of directors
as of 5/6/2020
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Pr. Mark Wilhelm

LCMC Pastor

Term: 2017 - 2020

Dr. Bill Nersesian

Chief Medical Officer, Fairview Physician Associates - Edina, MN

Pr. Donald Richman

Founding Director-EEMN - Bloomington, MN

Pr. Mark Wilhelm

SON Board President - Senior Pastor - Spirit of Joy L.C. - Indianapolis, IN

Pr. Phil Lee

SON Board VP - LCMC Pastor – Shepherd’s Canyon Retreat - Wickenburg, AZ

Mr. Philip Schmidt

Professional Educator - Thomas Downey H.S.- Modesto, CA

Mr. Victor Standke

SON Board Secretary - Law Enforcement - Semi-Retired - Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

Mr. Gerry Werth

SON Board Treasurer - USAF Retired - Albuquerque, NM

Pr. Deborah Lunde

LCMC Interim Call Pastor - Shoreline, WA

Ms. Amanda Serold

CPA - Seguin, TX

Mrs. Tyler Nelson

UMN County Support Staff - Marshall, MN -

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Not applicable
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No

Keywords

Engaging, Reclaiming, and Transforming Lives in Christ. Missions.