Russia (MNN) – Christmas songs are flowing over the radio waves and the Slavic Gospel Association is gearing up for its Christmas ministry, Immanuel’s Child.
A Christmas Ministry
For those who don’t know, SGA’s Immanuel’s Child is a Christmas ministry where SGA helps provide Russian churches with funds. These funds are used to give gifts to children who are living in orphanages or even on the streets. These gifts are a way for churches to minister to Children by sharing the Gospel and Christ’s love. Churches are even able to invite the kids to church.
Obviously, not every kid wants to visit church after receiving a gift, but it is an opportunity for the churches to build relationships with the kids. Essentially, Immanuel’s Child is kind of like a springboard for the coming year.
“The approach of SGA and Immanuel’s Child I think has kind of been a unique situation. The program Immanuel’s Child is to focus on equipping the churches to do the work of ministry. And that work of ministry truly is year-round discipleship,” SGA’s Eric Mock explains.
How It Works
Immanuel’s Child is graciously provided for by donations throughout the year. Another part of the gifts these children receive are stars signed by the ministry’s donors.
“These stars are also shipped over. So a lot of times we talk about how many stars have gone over to the churches. I have gone into orphanages where I’ve seen children who’ve pinned one of these stars to their wall…they’ve got the name of a family that will be praying for them around the year,” Mock explains.
“And this little piece of cardstock carries more power than any other gift because they realize that God has connected them…and to know that someone is praying for them, it’s a powerful thing.”
Other gifts besides the stars include a Bible, year-round discipleship, someone committing to pray for them, and a gift picked out by the local church. Currently, Immanuel’s child is taking place in Russia and in the other Russian-speaking countries.
Christmas in Russia
Furthermore, Christmas in Russia is literally a time of opens doors. During the holiday season, people will invite total strangers into their homes for a meal. It’s a perfect time for the Immanuel Child’s outreach teams to share the Gospel by handing out gifts and caroling to people who would normally stay behind closed doors.
And for those who might be suspicious of any church that’s not the Russian Orthodox church, some Russian churches rent a facility and put on programs for both kids and adults to come and visit. Because of curiosity, people show up to see what these churches are all about and to celebrate.
Christmas time in Russia, as Mock says, is an incredible time for the Church to share the Gospel.
Yet, previously Russian churches partnered with SGA receive financial support from other churches in the West. It’s been churches serving churches. However, this is about to change for the better.
“What we have decided to do is open the door for Immanuel’s Child to be sent to individuals. What that mean is maybe there’s a family that want’s to support through the Immanuel Child’s program, to see the unchurched in these countries reached. They can now participate where we haven’t done that before,” Mock shares.
Help Immanuel’s Child?
Despite Russia looking like it’s a country that’s been reached with the Gospel, it actual isn’t. Mock recalls the fact that there is a need in Russia to hear the Gospel. Less than half of 1 percent of Russians claim their faith by saving grace despite 67 percent claiming Christian faith. So if you’re interested in getting involved by supporting churches, just get ahold of SGA either by phone or mail to get started.
However, as Christmas approaches, please pray for the Russian churches and SGA’s staff who will be evangelizing over the holiday. Since the Anti-Terrorism bill was signed into law, evangelism has been outlawed. Pray this law, which is interpreted by local law enforcement, would not affect the ministry’s evangelism this season.
Pray also for SGA’s holiday ministry in Ukraine and the Central Asian countries, too. SGA is also planning to send extra supplies to areas in far east Russia where it is currently ministry, so if would pray as well for the people there and for those who are ministering.
To get involved with Immanuel’s Child, click here!