Russia (MNN) – It’s been almost thirteen years since the Beslan School terror attack in Russia that took over 330 lives, mostly children. No amount of time can reduce the loss that was felt as a result of those three days. But when disaster strikes a community and a country, there is a heightened sense of need for love, care, and security. It was out of this tragedy that SOAR International’s annual Easter “Baskets of Hope” project was born.
In 2005, the year following the attack, SOAR was invited by a local church to help minister to the child survivors of the attack during the Easter season. But the “Baskets of Hope” project didn’t stop after that first year, or the second, or third. Instead, this project has gone on to minister to hurting and needy children for over a decade now.
Joanna Mangione of SOAR says the project also served as a bridge program for the local church to be able to minister to orphanages. At the time, orphanages were generally resistant to letting churches visit.
But over the years, these partner churches of SOAR have been able to build relationships with the orphanages and minister specifically to the children there.
Mangione says this means “Baskets of Hope” is no longer a bridge project, but a support project for the local church in Russia.
“It has morphed into a way in which we can come alongside the churches there but also give where the churches in Russia can’t at this point in time, and bless the kids in a way that is really, really special for them.”
She hopes this project will continue to grow so more children can receive these gifts in the future.
More than just an Easter basket
It’s important to understand that “Baskets of Hope” is more than your traditional Easter Basket. After all, candy and toys could never be an adequate response to tragedy and heartache.
Magione says it’s about the care and love that is exemplified through the gift, and the message of the Gospel that comes with it.
“I would encourage anyone, church or individual, to sponsor a basket this year because every year when we do this, there is always a new child that we meet or see or get to talk to. A child who’s life has had who knows how many horrors in it. Who has never truly experienced any love.”
She continues, “And even if they have met us before, when we come and we share love again, and we give, again, it really does impact their life for eternity.”
There are a few ways for you to get involved. One, you can sponsor a basket. If you can’t afford an entire basket, you can sponsor a Bible. And, you can write a letter. To get started, click here.
Finally, you can pray.
“Pray for the kids who will be receiving the baskets, obviously, it’s a huge one. Pray for their hearts to be opened. Pray for the churches who will be entering into the orphanages, as they go in, as they present the Gospel.”
You can also pray for safety for the team, and for the project. Ask God to keep the doors open for the Gospel in Russia.