Eurasia (MNN) — Yet another ceasefire has fallen by the wayside more than two and a half years after the war in Ukraine began. Sadly, it’s a war eclipsed by the conflagration engulfing Syria.
What this means is that Ukraine is a forgotten region, and it’s still too dangerous for the nation’s 1.7 million Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) to return home. Many are fleeing Crimea or the war-zones in Donbas. At one point, the estimate by population was the rough equivalent of the United States being suddenly confronted with about 12.4 million internal refugees. With this refugee crisis comes a rise in the number of children without families, as well as growing rates of neglect, poverty, and homelessness that are threatening adults moving throughout Eurasia.
Where can hurting children in Eurasia find hope this Christmas? A glance around reveals a short supply coming through the “normal” channels. However, Mission Eurasia is one of a few ministries offering a new “normal”. Sergey Rakhuba explains that a gift of $25 will enable local churches in Eurasia to prepare and fill one specially designed Gift of Hope with items that little ones love, including stuffed toys, sweets, and personal items such as hats and mittens. Most importantly, each Gift of Hope will include a children’s Bible or Christian storybook.
Here’s how it works: “We work with national churches. We provide resources. We buy things in bulk there,” Rakhuba explains. Then, “These young leaders, who are* students and graduates from School Without Walls, will be able to mobilize volunteers to pack all these boxes, and deliver them to the orphanages, schools and places where the needy children are.” Local teams then distribute these Gift of Hope boxes filled with toys, candy, and a children’s Bible or Christian storybook to the children.
Rakhuba adds that every Gift of Hope is a powerful channel for evangelism — providing an opportunity to share the hope of Jesus. “When young leaders* deliver gift boxes through our specially designed program to an orphanage, school or a place where refugees are living in eastern Ukraine, they are also bringing a great story. For thousands of children, this is the first time that they will hear the great story of Christmas. For the first time, they will learn about Jesus’s love for them.”
Right now, the impact of a dollar can be doubled. “Recently, one of our faithful friends anonymously made a *matching gift available, so if someone can give at least one dollar to this program, it will be matched by two dollars.” With that in mind, Mission Eurasia wants “…to make 75,000 Gift(s) of Hope available, that will be packed in Ukraine, Russia, and (in) some other countries in Eurasia, like Moldova,the poorest country of Eastern Europe.”
With the “pray, give, go” philosophy in mind, Mission Eurasia is providing a unique reminder for prayer. With each gift of $25 or more in November and December 2016, the ministry will send a handcrafted Russian Christmas ornament,while supplies last, to say “Thank you”.
Most important of all, each Gift of Hope will contain a colorful, beautifully designed children’s Bible storybook in their own language that will clearly present the Gospel message. This year, they want to love on 75,000 needy children in Belarus, Georgia, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Russia and Ukraine, including refugee children living in the warzone. The opportunity is ready made.
#GivingTuesday kicks off the charitable season, when many focus on their holiday and end-of-year giving. This event takes place on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving Day (in the U.S.), and directly after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, two of the most widely recognized shopping days of the retail year. This holiday season, consider the impact that $25 could have on a child’s life.
*Some quotes have been edited for clarity.