Russia (MNN) — There's a Christmas song titled, "It's the
Most Wonderful Time of the Year," which speaks about the traditions and trappings of the
holiday. But for ministries, "It's the Most Important Time of the Year!"
Joel Griffith with
Slavic Gospel Association explains, "It's
the season when we celebrate the birth of Christ, but it's also probably the
most important evangelistic time of the year for churches [in Russia]. SGA tries to
help evangelical churches there, especially with their children's ministry."
While Russian Christmas is celebrated January 7, more and
more evangelical believers are also observing the traditional Western Christmas
on December 25, with ongoing ministry through the week of January 7 telling
the story of Jesus to those who so desperately need to hear.
Griffith says, "There's a special emphasis at Christmas where
we try to help church teams over there that go into these orphanages on a
regular basis for their ministry make special visits during Christmastime to
help bring the Gospel to the children."
Through their programs "Orphans
Reborn" and "Immanuel's Child," the SGA
team makes a lasting impression on the lives they touch.
With Orphans Reborn, a number of state-run orphanages in
Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Armenia and Kazakhstan are allowing local
missionaries and church workers to come in and share Christ's love with their
children. Last year, a total of 12,500 children in
approximately 135 orphanages or children's homes received regular visits.
Child program opens that door even wider. Every $25 provides a
signed Star of Bethlehem ornament, a special Christmas gift, Russian-language
Christian children's literature, candy, fruit, warm clothes, and toiletry
"It's so much more than just trying to
give a gift and that's it. The intent of the churches we serve there
is the Gospel and trying to have open doors to reach these kids on a
year-round basis." Ultimately, Griffith says, "It's
just a wonderful opportunity for the churches to be able to proclaim the Gospel
and tell these children what the real meaning of Christmas actually is."
their care for the children, Griffith
says, their team has seen the hope of Christ break through the stoniest hearts. "Many
times, the adults and caregivers are drawn to what the church is doing as well,
and that leads to Gospel opportunities with the adults. It's just a wonderful
way to get an open door for ministry."
It's a huge
task, and help is needed, explains
Griffith. "Pray for the resources
to come in. Pray, in advance, for the children who are going to be hearing the Gospel
proclaimed, that the Lord would open their hearts to believe and receive the
Gospel. Pray for the adults and caregivers, that the Lord would work in their
hearts in the same fashion."