Russia (MNN) — While the rest of the world celebrates Christmas today, Russia and many of the former soviet block nations will be going to work and school as they typically do. According to Russian Ministries' Sergey Rakhuba, Christmas is distinctly different in Russia.
"Russian's celebrate Christmas on a different day and that's according to a different calendar. And the Orthodox Church tradition is coming back to almost every family," says Rukhuba. That day is January 7.
According to Rakhuba, the evangelical church celebrates both dates, but they use January 7 as a day for outreach. "The evangelical church tries to take this opportunity always encouraging their congregations to go an extra mile and tell the story of Jesus to their neighbors and in their schools."
He says the church is organizing special outreach events around the holiday. "Those who are involved in outreach ministries like puppet ministries or other special events go back to their schools and organize a special presentation in order to tell the story of what Christmas means according to the Scripture."
A part of the outreach this Christmas is called the Great Gift Exchange. Rakhuba says funding was raised to help buy Christmas gifts for poor and orphaned children. "They were able to raise 30,000 gifts. Russian Ministries will add a Bible to it. They go out to schools, to orphanages and find places where street kids are hiding and deliver the Christmas gifts."
While some young people turn to Christ, Rakhuba says, "This is a great bridge building opportunity for them or relationship development. Poor children that live in orphanages don't expect that somebody would leave their families and come and spend Christmas with them."
So Rakhuba says, "Families come with this wonderful gifts and also bring them a Bible and tell them the story of Jesus Christ. And, then, you see how relationships develop. And, these orphans, when the summer time comes, they like to come and spend a week or two in a summer camp organized by the same church."
Rakhuba says as they're exposed to the Gospel more often, many of them turn to Christ.
He's asking Christians to take a moment and pray as believers prepare for outreach in a few days. "Pray that the Russian evangelical church would reach out to as many orphans, as many poor children, as many families who don't know about Jesus."