Abkhazia (MNN) — Everyone needs a sense of belonging. People need to know they are loved and that others will come alongside them in times of weakness.
This is especially true for children with physical disabilities. And that’s why SOAR International, along with a local church in the small, disputed Eastern European territory of Abkhazia,is reaching out to them. In early October, the church, along with a small team from SOAR, will put on a camp in Abkhazia exclusively for children with physical disabilities.
“This year, we’ve offered to bring a small group over there to help with this camp that will be happening in early October,” says SOAR’s Greg Mangione. “One of the members that will be going on the team is actually handicapped himself. He loves working in children’s camps to share how the Lord can still use them despite their disabilities.
“Another one of the team members is a therapist. And the pastor of this particular church is working to learn different ways to physically help these children and people they work with. And so [the therapist] is hoping to share some new techniques and new ideas with the pastor to help in his ministry to the handicapped.”
Besides working at the camp, SOAR sent a shipment of vital resources earlier this summer to help the church serve the community. Earlier this summer, SOAR sent a 40-foot long container full of wheelchairs, a handicapped van, and other supplies. It is expected to arrive in Abkhazia sometime in the next few weeks.
“The church is just really excited about how this will benefit their ministry and how they can reach their community,” Mangione says. “And we’re praying that it will be another way that the Word of God can be spread.”
Abkhazia has a high number of physically disabled people and few means of assistance. Unemployment rates are around 70%, so parents tend to spend more time looking for work than caring for their children. Much of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed in
the early 1990s during war with Georgia, making it a difficult place for handicapped people to live.
“It’s just a very forgotten area, and hardly anybody has heard of it,” Mangione says. “Most of the world doesn’t acknowledge them as a country or as a people, and the church is really trying to take this opportunity to reach this country for Christ.”
And that’s exactly what the camp is doing: reaching children with the Gospel while meeting their physical needs. In addition, “It’s almost as much for the parents that are able to attend as the children,” says Mangione. The goal is to “get the kids out of the house and invest in their lives, love on them, and play with them, and also share the Gospel with them…but also do the same things for the parents of these kids that are often kind of outside the rest of their circle, because many of the other people in their circle may not have those issues to deal with.”
Want to help SOAR bring hope to the physically disabled? There are multiple ways you can get involved, whether by donating, attending a trip, or even becoming a full-time staff member. Click here to learn more about SOAR’s different ministries and how you can help.