Russia (MNN) — There may be an ocean between you and a ministry project you support. But distance doesn’t mean your gift isn’t personal. For one, the Holy Spirit is working through ministry outreaches to soften hearts to the Gospel. He is very personal. And secondly, with projects like SOAR International’s Baskets of Hope, adding a personal touch of your own — like a letter — can make all the difference.
Joanna Mangione of SOAR International says their recent distribution of Baskets of Hope went “amazingly well”. They were able to distribute to six orphanages, and are waiting to hear back from one more.
Mangione says, “We were able to help get around 1,000 baskets sponsored and out to orphans in Russia. So, a great number — one we were trying to reach when we first started the project, and we got there.”
SOAR is grateful to those who helped support the outreach by sponsoring baskets, writing letters, and praying. During the distribution, the SOAR team was able to share the Gospel through a puppet show at each of the orphanages.
They have received positive news from their partner churches on the ground. Mangione says they have God to thank for all of it: “All glory goes to Him.”
Someone “took the time”
But if there’s one thing that sticks out in the aftermath of both the Stuff a Stocking project and Baskets of Hope, Mangione says it’s the letters. Or rather, the kids reactions to the letters.
She says she is touched by how the kids pour over the letters written by the basket sponsors. Even though they receive a translated version, the kids are soon back to studying the original letter. It is a treasure to them.
“I think it’s just a testament to the fact these kids — how much they feel loved when people take the time to write the letters along with their sponsorships. It’s a huge impact because it tells them, somebody cares. Somebody wrote to me, took the time to write to me, to share their love.”
She says they often hear of children who keep the letters all year-round to look at.
You see, these letters are a bridge between your heart, and theirs.
“The sponsors that write those letters, individuals who send in the letters, they do mean something and they do make an impact. Even if you never hear back from that child, it’s touched them. And taking the opportunity to share the Gospel in those letters, telling them about how much God loves them — they’re read and they’re heard.”
A message of love founded in Easter
Baskets of Hope began as a response to the horrible Beslan school attack that took place in 2004. But today, the project continues to bring hope and calm fears. As Mangione explains, it focuses on bringing back the truth of Easter by telling of Jesus’ resurrection and what that means for the hopeless.
And hopeless is one way to describe the situation that many of these kids have come from.
“A lot of these kids, when they start to tell you, when you actually get to know them, and you hear some of these stories — I mean, they’re really horrific,” Mangione says.
But the Gospel, told through the puppet show, the Bible gifts, and the letters can bring healing, calm fears, and give joy. It’s all wrapped up in this: hope.
Please pray that the impact from these baskets would continue to grow. Pray for true transformation in the kids’ hearts, and that they would proclaim this message of truth throughout Russia.
If you want to get involved, but missed this year’s Baskets of Hope, don’t worry. It’s never too early to donate to Baskets of Hope for the following year. Just click here! Or keep checking back for upcoming ministry opportunities with SOAR.