Europe (MNN) — Every need in the Former Soviet Union seems to have increased this year. Economic crises have tightened budgets, Christian organizations have been increasingly repressed, and the spiritual need remains enormous.
"Russia certainly was hit hard by the economic crisis of the past year (as many other countries have been), and Christians basically tend to get hit even harder than that," says Joel Griffith with Slavic Gospel Association. "I think the need is growing there and probably will continue to do so for the foreseeable future."
For orphans in this region, the effects are no lighter. As if the economic downturn were not enough, Griffith notes, "A lot of [orphanages] are just woefully underfunded."
With all of these factors in mind, it's rare that an orphan receives a gift at Christmas. SGA has responded with its "Christmas for Orphans" project, in which the ministry partners with local evangelical churches in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan to distribute Christmas gifts and spread the love of Christ.
"We're partnering with believers at Christmas to send the love of God and the Good News of Jesus to orphans in Russia and some other Soviet countries," says Griffith. "Basically, for $21, you can provide a Russian orphan with a Christmas gift of their very own, Russian-language Christian children's literature, and other much-needed items such as warm clothing or toiletries on an as-needed basis."
The efforts of course takes care of the physical and material needs that the orphans may have, but most importantly, it addresses the spiritual.
"We know that showing the love of Christ in this way opens doors for ongoing discipleship and evangelism," says Griffith. When churches hand out gifts, they preach the Gospel as well. Since these are likely the only gifts these children will receive, they have also put a foot in the door for further ministry.
Children's Christmas ministries are often the most important for organizations working in the Former Soviet Union. A generation growing up with Christ as their center has the potential to change a lot, especially in a region with such a desperate spiritual condition. Christmas for Orphans is the foothold to bring a new generation to Christ.
If you would like to provide a child with a Christmas gift and the hope of the Gospel this year, click here and send your gift of $21 to SGA's Christmas for Orphans project. Pray that the children receiving the gifts would have open their hearts to the Gospel as they open their gifts.