Christians shore up the church in the former Soviet Union with the help of a Christmas program.

By February 7, 2006

Russia (MNN)–Christmas in the former Soviet Union is celebrated January 7th.

Slavic Gospel Association’s ‘Immanuel’s Child’ sponsorship program brings the Gospel message to thousands.

It’s a partnership ministry with the American church. SGA’s Tom MacAdam says with each $25 (USD) sponsorship, a child gets a signed Star of Bethlehem ornament from families in the sponsoring church tying in the global nature of the project.

Participants also get a special Christmas gift, purchased locally, and presented by Russian church workers. Also in the kit, a Russian-language Children’s Bible, and of course, candy and fresh fruit–rare treats in a harsh winter.

Is it effective? “The program this year was in eight different countries in the former Soviet Union, and in 50 different regions,” MacAdam explains. “We estimate somewhere in the neighborhood of 10,000 to 14,000 children, and parents in many cases, were reached through the program this year, so we’re thanking God for the participation of the American churches and looking forward to getting final reports.”

MacAdam adds that the focus isn’t only on the immediate holiday. It’s also a ‘work in progress.’ “The programs are used in a couple of different ways. The primary use is to invite the unchurched children and their families into the church.”

And for those who respond, “Follow-up is conducted with the children to invite them back to Sunday School and bring the families back into the church so they can be connected with them for the rest of the year.”

Seeing the church members love and bless their children, their hearts are tender when the Gospel is presented. SGA believes that children are the church of tomorrow, and in Russia, they are often also the gateway to the rest of the family.

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