Russia (MNN) — All kids like gifts. They also like candy. And how many children do you know who enjoy hearing a great story? SOAR International Ministries is providing all three to at-risk children in Russia in celebration of Russian Easter which is being celebrated May 15.
According to SOAR's Greg Mangione, Easter is a popular religious holiday. "In Russia, Easter is celebrated or recognized much the same way as we (in the west) recognize Christmas."
Because of that, Mangione says, "People are very open to hearing the Gospel and open to coming to church. It's a much more spiritually sensitive time."
SOAR International Ministries is responding by reaching out to kids by sending Easter Baskets of Hope to at-risk children. "Last year, we were able to do about 1,000 baskets. This year we'd like to see about 1,500. We've only got about 100-150 baskets, but being that we have a little over a month to go, there's still plenty of time for you to get involved."
The baskets are filled with gifts and God's Word. $35 fills a basket with gifts, and $5 provides a Bible. SOAR collects the money and sends it to Russian churches; they purchase the baskets, gifts, and Bibles, and the church distributes them. Mangione says, "That helps fuel the local economy. That helps get the Russian people–the Russian church–involved so that this is as much a Russian project as it is an American project."
Mangione says the Baskets of Hope outreach is more than a project. "It often serves as a way to open the doors to a local church and a local orphanage, add to their credibility and add to one of the tools that the local church can use as they try to reach out to their people."
It has succeeded. Churches are getting more opportunities to reach out: not just to orphaned kids, but also to orphanage workers. Mangione is asking you to pray for them. "It can often be a thankless job with a lot of challenges. But they get encouraged when they see their kids being reached out to. It also gets them a little bit curious. 'Who are these people bringing in these gifts? Why are they giving gifts? What does it say?' It often pulls the teachers and orphanage directors into the project, too."
If you'd like to contribute to Baskets of Hope, click here.