Russia (MNN) – Slavic Gospel Association‘s Eric Mock recently returned after participating in Immanuel’s Child outreaches with churches in Far East Russia.
Immanuel’s Child is an opportunity for faithful believers and churches in the United States to stand behind churches in places like Far East Russia, and empower them to share the Gospel through Christmas outreaches. And in these areas where SGA partners with churches, Christmas isn’t celebrated on December 25th but January 7th.
Through donations made to Immanuel’s Child, SGA provides resources for churches to put on a Christmas production and reach out into their communities with the Gospel story.
“For every gift that comes to Immanuel’s Child, we’re providing the resources to the church for a gift for the children which usually includes some sweets. They love candy as well as warm items of clothing, [and]it includes a Bible,” Mock explains.
“It [also]includes a paper star…with a name of a family…[who have] commitment really to pray for whoever the child is that receives the star. And also we send the church Sunday school materials so they can continue the process of discipleship throughout the year.”
The resources equip churches in putting together their outreaches. And while Christmas in the West is often accompanied with time spent with family and an exchange of gifts, that’s not necessarily the case in Russia or Far East Russia. It’s also an opportunity to declare Christ’s love and kingship.
Resourcing for Outreach
Immanuel’s Child particularly equips Churches to reach out to the unbelieving children and their families in the local community. Mock had the opportunity to join churches in Far East Russia and partake in their outreaches. But, there was one particular experience that stuck out.
“We entered into what used to be known as a palace of culture, or a palace of fine arts. It was a three-level theater. Over the top of the stage was a large emblem of a hammer and sickle…In this theater, each of the pillars was adorned with people who were the heroes of the Soviet Union,” Mock describes.
“There in this theater, four churches worked together to tell the Christmas story. A play on the stage underneath the symbol…a symbol of atheism and oppression [of] the Christian faith, there was acted out by the church in clear proclamation of the Gospel the Christmas story—and what an amazing thing to see.”
Over 1,000 children along with their parents filled all three levels of this theater. And Mock, along with a team of Americans who had come to support these churches, sat in the very seats where the oppressors of the Christian faith would have sat years ago, and watched as seeds were planted for Christ.
Shopping for Christ
In direct contrast to this, Mock also had the opportunity to be a part of an outreach held in the children’s play area of a shopping mall. At first, Mock couldn’t see how this outreach could be held in such an odd location, but God moved through it.
Before an audience of about 30 kids and their parents, a group of Americans and Russians told the Christmas story and the Gospel message through an interactive play. None of parents or kids watching the play believed in Jesus. In fact, none of them had ever even heard the true Christmas story.
“Adults walk[ed] away saying ‘I always knew about Christmas but I never knew what it was about. Thank you for sharing this with me,’” Mock says. “And we prayed that seeds were planted.”
Mock shares that for him, he wouldn’t have thought of a shopping mall as a place to put on a Christmas program. However, for the believers in Far East Russia, they see Christmas as an opportunity to share Christ’s truth.
Spring into Action
And now this Christmas outreach has opened doors for further discipleship. Churches often try to follow-up with children and families they reached during the holiday. This is especially done when the churches have their Easter outreaches. Because while Christmas tends to be an open door for the Church in Russia to evangelize, Easter is an even bigger deal for this culture. In fact, the Christmas outreaches act as an almost springboard for the Easter outreaches.
So please, pray for the seeds which were planted during Immanuel’s Child outreaches. Pray for the children and families reached to visit their local churches, encounter Christ, and live transformed lives through the Gospel as a result. Please also start praying for the coming Easter outreaches as they’re only a few months away.