Russia (MNN) — Today is January 6th, and for many of us, the Christmas season is over. The New Year has been celebrated and the halls are being undecked.
However, in the former Soviet Union, Orthodox Christmas is still being celebrated in accordance with the Gregorian calendar. It’s been a hard year for this volatile region. A sluggish economy, war, and political instability have added to the burden of the austere realities in which many live.
However, the hope of the Gospel is still drawing people to Christ. Mission Eurasia’s Wally Kulakoff says now is the perfect time to reach out to those in need. “We have a program called “Gift of Hope” which is a box filled with gifts for children, and included with that, depending on the area or depending on the need, there’s either a Bible, a New Testament, or a pictorial Scripture.”
Through Gift of Hope, Mission Eurasia’s School Without Walls (SWW) students and graduates partner with local churches and pastors to distribute these festive gift boxes. “The local church goes to the mayor of the local town or city and says, ‘Would you give us a list of who will be in need of a gift this Christmas?’ In other words, a parent who is in prison, people who are sick, people who cannot afford a gift, etc,” Kulakoff shares.
One such gift is music. Russia’s love of music has a long history, ranging from ritual folk songs to the sacred music of the Russian Orthodox Church. Music invites families to join in the joy of the Christmas season. According to Kulakoff, “The church has the opportunity to mobilize the Christian young people with a guitar and singing; caroling goes from house to house — but to non-Christian homes — presenting the Gospel in song and then giving the family the gift.”
When the SWW students arrive, each family is given a festive Gift of Hope filled with toys, candy, and a children’s Bible or Christian storybook. The students also extend an invitation for the family to join them at church. As a result, says Kulakoff, “Many times, the church experiences a new influx of people who have not come to church, but because the church has expressed love and concern to the local community, they come to church and then they hear the Gospel message.”
When families start going to church, children often join Sunday school programs, young people join youth groups, and parents become more engaged as their children get more involved. You might be wondering if it’s too late to help with this year’s Gift of Hope outreach, but Kulakoff insists it’s never too late.
“Pray for people to accept the Gospel message, even those whose hearts are hard and then they can also pray for the churches to be bold — to be bold in going out to places and areas where they have not gone.”
It’s also never too early to get a jump-start on Christmas 2017. For only $25.00 you can provide a Gift of Hope, which will be lovingly placed in the hands of a hurting child. Click here if you want to start early.