SOAR reaches out to orphans

Photo by SOAR International

(Photo by SOAR International)

Russia (MNN) — The Christmas season isn’t quite over yet, at least not in Russia. The traditional Christmas in Russia takes place tomorrow, January 7.

SOAR International will be there to distribute stockings to orphans and at-risk children. If you missed the news about Stuff a Stocking, read up about it here and plan for next year. It’s an opportunity to provide children with necessities and the very necessary message of Jesus Christ.

The SOAR team is about to land in Moscow and begin distribution with their ministry partners in Russia.

One of their main partners who will host them during this trip addresses a wide range of needs in a region southeast of Moscow.

Greg Mangione of SOAR International says, “Along with visiting all the orphanages and ministering to them in their area, they also have a transition home where they have graduates from the orphanage come through.”

The home provides important guidance to children who have aged out of an orphanage. Mangione says, “At any given time, they probably have 8-12 16-18-year-olds that they’re working with, to help them reintegrate into society, mentoring them, discipling them, helping them get training.”

Some things the home needs to stay in operation are beds, kitchen equipment, and food.

We’ve all gone through stages where we don’t know what to do next with our life. Often, all we need is a little encouragement and a nudge to make good decisions, and someone to guide us away from bad ones. It’s the very same for these orphans as they leave the orphanages.

“The statistics for children, especially those that have been in the orphanage system in Russia, are pretty bleak,” says Mangione. “And so it’s encouraging to us to see and to partner with churches that are trying to address the needs of at-risk children and children in the orphanage system in Russia–trying to turn those statistics around.”

He continues, “Transition Homes, for instance, are doing just that. Their statistics are 180 degrees opposite. The kids are accepting the Lord and becoming disciples, believers, building families, getting good jobs.”

SOAR hopes to be an encouragement and support while they stay with this ministry.

Still seeing God’s hand in Sochi

During the second half of the trip, a small group from SOAR will travel to Sochi. Last February during the Winter Olympics, SOAR established relationships with several churches in the area. When they visited them this past August, SOAR was pleased to hear that their enthusiasm to reach the community was still intact and encouraged. Their passion for building relationships with children and families nearby was obvious.

One church connects with their community by letting children play on their trampoline. Simple activities like this keep children from getting into trouble on the streets and provide an opportunity to teach them about Jesus.

This trampoline is now unusable. Can you help them get a new one? (Photo courtesy of SOAR International via Facebook)

This trampoline is now unusable. Can you help them get a new one? (Photo courtesy of SOAR International via Facebook)

However, this trampoline has been damaged beyond repair, and they are in need of a new one. The church would also like to purchase an Xbox.  want to bring kids from the community into a healthy, nurturing environment.

Mangione says it’s encouraging to see the children’s parents allow their kids to hang out at the church–a place where they are loved and accepted.

He says, “The broader consequences of this ministry are that more than just these kids, but those that are working with these kids–providing them homes, whether it’s their parents or other family members–are seeing that the church is reaching out to these kids and loving them. That is a pretty big testimony in and of itself.”

If you would like to contribute to provide any of the items listed above, there is still time for them to be purchased in Russia while the SOAR team is there on the ground.

You can view their Christmas catalog here and see the items mentioned under “Donate towards Ministry Partner Needs!” Or click here and designate a monetary gift for any of the projects you feel called to help with.

Mangione asks for prayer for safety and effective, encouraging ministry. Please pray that God would meet the needs of SOAR and their partners.