Russian Christmas provides opportunities for Christian outreach

By January 8, 2008

Russia (MNN) — In Russia, Christmas is celebrated January 7. And this
year Russian Ministries is providing believers tools to reach out to
kids in the region. They're doing it through the "Greatest Gift Exchange
– Project Hope" initiative. The project is designed to reach out to
poor, orphaned and street kids.

In Salakhard and Labutnange in the Arctic Circle, the day began
for Christians in worship, celebrating the birth of Christ in Word,
song and drama. That service also served as a spring board for Russian Ministries' "Greatest Gift Exchange" to head into the community to reach out to orphans.

Boxes are distributed, each containing a toy, candy, personal care items and the
International Bible Society's "My First Bible." This year the local
churches in the area were asked to get behind the project. Speaking
through an interpreter, Pastor Anatoli Marachev of the Good News Church
in Salakhard says, "They (churches) responded very eagerly. And they told
unbelievers about the project and got involved in the project."

Pastor Marachev says the gift boxes are tools for ministry. "Thanks
to this project, we have a chance and an opportunity to preach the
Gospel to these children. Due to the condition in
the country now, we don't have many opportunities to preach the Gospel
openly and freely."

Russian Ministries helped pay for the Bibles and production of the
boxes. Moscow Regional Director Paul Tokarchuk says, "More than 30,000
Christmas gift (boxes) have been gathered by Russian Ministries. And
we shipped them here to Anatoli to churches so that their churches
would be motivated and mobilized to evangelize."

According to Tokarchuk, the "Greatest Gift Exchange – Project Hope" is helping train next generation church leaders. "This tool will be
used by youth leaders in Christmas outreach. So that's facilitation of
the local youth people who are going through the next generation church
leaders training."

The project is viewed as a relationship-building program not only with the children but also the caregivers.

The rest of this week, Russian Ministries and Mission Network News
will be heading to the Tundra to take Christmas gifts to poor nomadic reindeer-herding families. Pray that seeds of the Gospel will be
planted.

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