Abkhazia (MNN) — Physical disabilities can be exhausting. They can turn even the most common household chore into an arduous task. But being handicapped and receiving zero assistance? That can make one hopeless.
For many in Abkhazia, this is a reality. Abkhazia is a disputed territory bordering Georgia and Russia. It saw political turmoil in the early 1990s with a war between Georgian government forces and Abkhaz separatist forces fighting for independence from Georgia. Much of Abkhazia’s infrastructure was destroyed in the war and is still being rebuilt.
There is also a high number of physically disabled people in the country, and very few means of assistance. And with such damaged infrastructure, Abkhazia is not very handicapped-friendly.
This issue has largely gone unnoticed, until now. SOAR International recently shipped a 40-foot long container full of wheelchairs donated from the Joni and Friends foundation, along with a handicapped van, clothes, and other supplies. It’s all being sent to a church in Abkhazia to meet the community’s needs.
“One specific ministry that one of the churches in Abkhazia has is to the handicapped,” SOAR’s Greg Mangione says. “There are a lot of handicapped in Abkhazia. There are [a lot] anywhere, but in Abkhazia especially, there are not that many [people who are] reaching out to these people and helping not only to minister to them as a person, but also to their physical needs and trying to rehabilitate them as best they can.
“Trying to get goods is difficult. There are high unemployment rates, not a lot of jobs, and it’s not always easy to find some of this stuff, even in Russia, to bring across the border.”
The container was packed and shipped in May, and is scheduled to arrive sometime in the next month. Though meant to meet physical needs, these supplies are opening doors to share Christ.
“This will be our first container we’re sending over there. Everything we’ve done so far and everybody we’ve come across, we’ve been impressed by the love the people have for the church, the respect they have for the pastors and those who are ministering to them,” Mangione says. “The people in the church…just beam when we’re around.”
“There’s a video that the Abkhazia church put together on their handicapped camp that they did last year,” says Mangione. “Several of the mothers, many of whom are not Christians,…came with their handicapped children to the camp.
“They just shared about how grateful they were for the church and those who put the camp together, and how needed it was and how not many people think about their unique circumstance: having handicapped children. Many of them were in tears saying, ‘Thank you.’”
You may not be able to meet needs in Abkhazia firsthand, but there are multiple ways you can make sure the handicapped in this country don’t go forgotten. Mangione asks that you support SOAR financially as it helps fund multiple camps around Eastern Europe, including the church’s handicapped camp. Click here to donate to one of SOAR’s multiple ministry funds.
Remember also to keep this country in your prayers. Pray for Abkhazia as it continues to rebuild after the war. Pray also that the needs of handicapped children would continue to be met.