Abkhazia (MNN) — Abkhazia is a small disputed country just off the Black Sea. It’s located near Sochi, and is a disputed territory with Georgia. In the early nineties, a war with Georgia over its statehood crippled Abkhazia’s economy. This once-beautiful vacation spot is now grappling with the scars of conflict left on their buildings and their hearts.
In 2014, SOAR International made contact with a Church on the ground in Sochi to strategize on how to reach people during the Winter Olympics. Today, they’re still working with that partner — only now, they are reaching someone different. They are working to meet the needs of the Abkhazian Church.
Greg Mangione of SOAR says, “The bottom line is, the country is very poor and, while very beautiful and once considered the Russia Riviera, is in very bad shape. There was a war in the early nineties that has left a lot of devastation.”
The damage is still visible when you look at the buildings and infrastructure. Houses have bullet holes, and bombed buildings are left in disrepair. But something not visible to the naked eye is the damage done to families who lost loved ones and witnessed the atrocities of war.
The healing of the Gospel
Followers of Christ know the Gospel heals, even people struggling with loss. In Abkhazia, there is a Christian presence, but they could use some help.
“There’s been a number of churches planted over the past ten years or so in Abkhazia, and we’re trying to work with our partners in Sochi to reach these churches and help encourage them. There’s some really neat ministries,” Mangione says. One of these ministries, Mangione explains, works with people who are handicapped.
Because Abkhazia is an isolated region with few resources, these churches need encouragement. And so, SOAR’s partner asked them for help.
“One of the things we’ve been asked is to try and help find sister churches here in the U.S. that would build a relationship with one of these churches in Abkhazia — for encouragement, for financial support, for prayer, and just for that connection. And it’s so encouraging to anybody who is serving and giving of their life, especially in areas that are more remote and more difficult to access.”
A sister church would be somebody for the Abkhazian church to call and pray with. It makes sense. When you’re discouraged, doesn’t it help to know somebody is there for you however they can be?
If you feel like your church would be interested in becoming a sister church, contact SOAR International here. They will help pair you with a church that is a good fit.
To learn more about SOAR, find their website here.