Russia (MNN) — For the last few years, Christians in the West have been partnering with Christians in the former Soviet Union to provide gifts to thousands of needy children. This year, it's happening again. This year the program is touching a Mission Network News team member personally.
Russian Ministries, based in Wheaton, Illinois, is expanding its Gifts of Hope Christmas box program into a new region. Wally Kulakoff with Russian Ministries says, "One of the most needy areas of Russia is Siberia. And just south of Lake Baikal is a city called Irkutsk, a part of the world where the Spirit of the Lord is beginning to awaken the local churches."
"When I found out that Russian Ministries was going to be working in the city of my daughter's birth, I had to tell her," said Greg Yoder, Anchor and Executive Director of Mission Network News.
Yoder and his wife, Ann, adopted their daughter from Irkutsk, Russia, in 2002 from a baby home in the heart of Siberia. "When I told my daughter about it, she smiled and said, 'I want to make sure every kid in my [baby home] gets a Christmas present this year.' That's when we decided to try to raise $4,000 to do it."
While one priority is reaching young Russians with the Gospel, Kulakoff says this area is home to other people groups, too. "There are the Buryat people. There are Tuva people in that part of the world of Irkutsk. These are the unreached people of the world."
Through the Russian Ministries Gift of Hope program, each child receives a box with a toy, personal care items, and most importantly, the Gospel. Kulakoff says, "What a wonderful opportunity to reach the forgotten, the isolated areas of the world like the heart of Siberia."
Russian Ministries is partnering with churches across the former Soviet Union to distribute thousands of gifts. By providing funding to churches like the Irkutsk Bible Church, it's a stepping stone to do even more. "It is for the church to go beyond their limits, to do evangelism, to show compassion, [and] demonstrate love to the local people," says Kulakoff.
The Gift of Hope program is the stepping stone to reaching the next generation for Christ. As these young people give their hearts to Christ, they are encouraged to join children's clubs, where young church leaders begin discipling them.
It only takes $25 to provide a Gift of Hope. If you'd like to help Greg's daughter provide gifts to her orphanage, make your check payable to "Russian Ministries," then send it to Mission Network News. You can find our address by clicking "Contact Us" anywhere on this Web site.