Gifts for Abkhazia and a chance to encounter Christ

Image courtesy of SOAR International.

(Image courtesy of SOAR International)

Abkhazia (MNN) — Remember how SOAR International was collecting donations for children’s backpacks for Abkhazia? (Refresh your memory here).

Right now SOAR’s church partners are getting ready to distribute the backpacks to children in need.

Greg Mangione of SOAR says they are excited to participate in reaching out to the small, isolated communities of Abkhazia.

The first round of the backpack project took place last fall. Mangione explains that the churches were ecstatic at the results. “They just raved about how it was a positive thing in their outreach to the community.”

He shares the reason SOAR originally wanted to be involved in this project. “We were looking for practical ways we could serve the church and the church could serve the people around them, specifically the children. School supplies [were] needed [because they weren’t] as available there in Abkhazia.” This was a tangible “way that the church could reach out.”

This year the backpacks have Scripture verses on them and are filled with school supplies and children’s Bibles.

Another shipment to follow:

Later this month, SOAR also hopes to ship a container full of humanitarian aid to Abkhazia. This will include clothing, bulk foods, and other practical items.

One of SOAR’s church partners has a ministry to children with cerebral palsy. There are a surprising number of children with the disease. The aid will help SOAR continue their outreach to those children. They want to add a wheelchair to the shipping container and eventually provide funds for a handicap van.

This project is not yet complete. For those living near the Seattle or Tacoma areas, there are opportunities for you to donate remaining items. Click here to contact SOAR and ask them how to do so.

The shipping cost also needs to be covered. To help with that, contact them here.

In another world, a reminder about Christmas:

In Russia, SOAR is working on a completely different project: Stuff a Stocking. Mangione says so far, they’ve collected a little over 300 sponsored stockings.

By time they deliver the stockings to orphans in January, the team hopes to have 1,500 stockings.

“Now’s a perfect time to get involved,” Mangione says. Find more information here.

Bigger than humanitarian aid

Just like the backpack project in Abkhazia, Stuff A Stocking has a spiritual goal: “The main focus of this ministry is to partner with the local church and give them a tool in their ministry to the orphanages. It gives them further opportunity as they go back and visit [the orphanages] after we’re gone,” says Mangione. Churches can “continue building relationship and talking about the gifts and why people sent the gifts.”

Mangione continues saying, “It’s always exciting to see how the Lord will use a project like this to [meet] not just the physical needs, but also the heart and spiritual needs of these children.”

There are lots of ways to help the project in Abkhazia. You can give financially for future or ongoing projects. You can pray that God would go before the ministry and prepare hearts to hear the Gospel.

Mangione is thankful that churches are “getting involved and coming alongside them and helping assist them in their goal of reaching these people– there’s plenty to pray for there, but just to see the action that these churches are taking is a huge praise in my book.”