Born in a missionary family, George has always been interested in people of different cultures. But when he was sent on his first trip to Russia in 1991 with International Bible Society, he did not know how life-changing that trip would become. When distributing scriptures in Russian orphanages in 1993, George knew something more had to be done for the children. The apparent needs for food, clothing, education, emotional care, and medical care existed. But equally obvious was the plight of the kids beyond their orphanage years. In November 1994, George had gathered a group of people passionate about children in need, and focused on long-term relationships with orphans beyond their orphanage years. That group of seven individuals became the founding board of Children’s HopeChest. In July, 2008 George established a new organization, Orphan’s Tree, to re-focus on older orphans during their transitional years. George is thankful to his wife, Kathy, for her love and support throughout their 46 years of marriage. George and Kathy are the parents of Rebecca Peterson and Meredith Steiner. They are also proud of their son-in-law, Joshua Peterson, grandson Bryce, and granddaughters McKenna, Delaney and Kelsey Peterson.
Born and raised in Moscow, Russia, Jenya received her degree from Moscow Linguistic University. Although developing a successful career as a translator and interpreter in the rapidly changing business world of perestroika-era Russia, it was her visits to orphanages with International Bible Society that really changed her life. Moved and burdened by the dire needs of orphans, Jenya felt a calling to serve those without families. She joined George Steiner and Children’s HopeChest in 1994 and together with Katya Celenina formed Nadezhda (Hope) Fund, a ministry to orphans in Russia. Whether managing programs or fundraising and networking, Jenya finds continual satisfaction in helping to build the ministry of changing orphans’s lives for the better. In 1999, Jenya married Kerry J. Haps and moved to the Chicago area. She continued to work on behalf of Russian orphans, raising funds and awareness in both of her homes, America and Russia. Her responsibilities included devoting time to securing grants from the Russian branches of international corporations, as well as, ministry program planning. In July 2008 Jenya once again joined George Steiner in starting Orphan’s Tree to focus ministry to older orphans in Russia. Her compassion for the orphans, deep understanding of their needs, and all the success stories out of this ministry continues to motivate her 22 years later. Jenya is never alone in her work on behalf of the orphans and enjoys the support of her husband Kerry, son Fyodor, Mama Luba, and her church community and other friends. Serving orphans isn’t just a job for Jenya but a way of life!
While serving as Senior Pastor of Concord United Methodist Church near Pittsburgh, PA, Pastor John made his first trip to Russia with George Steiner in 1995. He later said that Russia was far down on his list of places he wanted to go on a mission trip, but went because of his friendship with the Steiner family. He planned to do one trip. That was over 20 trips ago. God gave Pastor John a heart for Russia and its orphans. He has led numerous teams to do summer camps, led his local church in establishing a long term relationship with a special needs Russian orphanage in the Vladimir region, and has led several training events for our Russian staff. After 45 years of pastoral ministry, Pastor John stepped aside from full time pastoral leadership to focus on mission work, both local and global. In July, 2014 he joined the Orphan’s Tree staff in the part time position of Church Liaison. He works with local churches that desire to be involved in ministry to orphans, preparing mission team members to do effective ministry while growing themselves as faithful disciples through their mission team experience. Pastor John’s passion is to see older orphans become committed disciples of Christ while developing the life skills necessary to form healthy families and become productive members of their society. He desires to see local churches and their members spiritually revitalized through involvement in the Great Commission.
Rebecca Peterson serves as the Partner Relations Director for Orphan’s Tree. In that role she manages the ministry’s communications and development. Having traveled to Russia numerous times since she was 17, Rebecca has a huge heart for orphan care and works to find and encourage others with that same passion. After earning a degree in Elementary Education and working for 17 years at the Miller Orthopaedic Review Course, Rebecca joined the staff of Orphan’s Tree in 2012. She and her husband Josh have been married for 20 years, and they are committed to sharing God’s hope and encouragement to all those around them. The Petersons reside in Colorado Springs with their four active children.
Raised in a churched home, Cindy really didn’t begin developing her relationship with the Lord until after leaving home and beginning her own family. The desire to see others find their true faith and have a solid support system at a much earlier age than her, led her to service in children and youth ministry. She took her first trip to Russia in 1998 as a co-leader of a high school ministry team. During that trip, she fell in love with Russia and her people. She has been to Russia nine times since. Her passion is to see kids grow into wonderful, hope-filled adults. Upon her return from that first trip to Russia, Cindy began working with George in the early days of Children’s HopeChest. She is responsible for the day to day operations at the office. Feel free to contact her directly for information about your gifts, travel, or general ministry questions. Cindy and her husband of 35 years, Rich; enjoy traveling, gardening and spending time with their three grown children and grandchildren.