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 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 in the area.
Each gift box is filled with 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 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 because you understand that 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 purchase of the Bibles and production of the boxes. Moscow Region Director Paul Tokarchuk says, "More than 30,000 Christmas gift boxes have been gathered by Russian Ministries. We shipped them here to Anatoli and 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 with not only the children, but also the care-givers.
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.