(MNN) — This week, hundreds of young Next Generation Christians have been
attending the sixth annual Puppet Festival outside of Zaporozhye, Ukraine. 39 puppet teams representing about 300 people
traveled from Azerbaijan, Ukraine, Russia,
Estonia, and Belarus to
participate in the Festival, Russian Ministries reports.
One puppet team came from Kabardino-Balkaria, a
Muslim-dominated region in the Northern Caucasus of Russia. Although the director of the local orphanage
is a Muslim and many of the children come from Muslim backgrounds, the puppet
team has a good relationship with the orphanage and many opportunities for
Some of the children at the orphanage have lost both
parents, while others are so-called "social orphans." Their parents lost custody of their children as a result of alcohol abuse or other issues. Though their physical needs are cared for, the children have a deep
longing for personal love and affection.
"We show them a lot of affection when we visit," said one
national worker. "We repeatedly tell them that they are not alone, that they
have a Heavenly Father who loves them much more than any earthly parents
The puppet team also shares the Gospel with the children at
the orphanage who watch the puppet shows with great excitement.
"Once, as we put on an Easter performance for the children,
we were so thrilled to hear the children comment about Christ's crucifixion
throughout the show," a Next Generation Christian explained. "We are hoping not only that the children
will know Bible stories through the performances and skits, but they will also begin
to live out the Word of God."
The family of one
puppet team member had the opportunity to host a young orphan named Anya for a
couple days. The team member got a hint
of what Anya's past had been like when they were approached by an inebriated
"She was a very sweet and talkative little girl," the team
member said, but when the neighbor approached, "She immediately hid behind my
back and wrapped her arms around my legs.
From her reaction, I figured that Anya came from a family of alcoholics
who often mistreated her when they were drunk. As soon as my neighbor left, she
became her usual cheerful self."
Pray that thousands of children like this little girl will
come to know Christ. Russian Ministries
estimates that 220,000 children and their caregivers are exposed to the Gospel
each year through the puppet ministry.