On Christmas Eve, I visited a Christmas outreach for orphans in one of the orphanages in Belarus. An SGA missionary pastor conducts Bible classes there every week. For the Christmas Eve event, Dima P. brought the SGA-sponsored puppet theater group which prepared and performed a play with a clear and simple Gospel message. The true meaning of Christmas was shared with the children, along with the workers of the orphanages and a few adults who came to visit the children. All heard a clear presentation of the Gospel.
It was interesting to observe the question-and-answer time, when many children were trying to give answers from the Bible. Many knew Scripture very well.
The culminating point was when the pastor opened his Bible and shared from the first chapter of Genesis and through the Gospel from Luke — about the birth of Jesus and the true meaning of his gift which is salvation for those who believe in Him.
After the short, but very profound, sermon the pastor asked all to rise and to pray to the Lord Jesus and thank Him for His gift. All the children and adults stood up, and many children started praying out loud. At the end of the Christmas program, the pastor prayed and the distribution of gifts was also very joyful for the children.
For the past two years, another orphanage — where many of the children have special needs and behavior problems — closed its doors to an SGA missionary pastor and to the outreach of believers to the children there. But recently, they unexpectedly invited Pastor Oleg to come again! He was surprised and shared that, thanks to the funds he received from SGA, he was able to prepare Christmas gifts for children.
When I traveled with Pastor Oleg to this orphanage at Christmastime, the children were joyful, polite, and some of them recognized their missionary pastor friend from two years earlier.
When the program began — with preaching and singing — I was surprised at how quiet and attentive the children were. With their needs and age, it is very rare to see this type of behavior! Pastor Oleg preached from the Word of God, emphasizing what the Scripture says about Christ and His gift of salvation. Afterward, the workers of orphanage gave a couple of presents to Pastor Oleg and they asked him to come again.
The next day, we found out why Pastor Oleg was asked to resume visiting the orphans on a regular basis. It turned out that this orphanage had gotten into trouble with the state authorities due to drugs, alcohol, and cruel fighting among orphans. The most critical problem was that the older orphans had started running away from the orphanage — and the administration and director were warned that if the situation was not changed shortly, there would be consequences. The Gospel could make the difference for them!
Another amazing moment in our visit was hearing the testimony of one of the workers named Katerina. She is a Christian and began working at the orphanage about nine months ago. Of the program, she said:
“It is the first time I have ever seen when our children were so quiet and attentive. They have never behaved like that. Your presence here had a special influence on all of them. I was amazed how they listened to you and what you were saying and singing to them.”
Another worker named Valentina shared with us as well after the program and said:
“I know you are the people of God. Please pray for my son Kirill, who was changed radically after being enrolled in a trade school. He became aggressive and doesn’t want to continue his education. Please pray, because I know that God will hear your prayers.”
Pastor Oleg has explained to her that she herself can pray and should cry out to the Lord, if she believes in Him. We promised Valentina that we will be praying for her and her son Kirill.
As we left this orphanage, we rejoiced knowing the doors have been opened once again for Pastor Oleg to minister to the orphans in this region. Please praise God with us for this wonderful opportunity — and all that God is doing in the hearts of orphans through SGA outreaches in the former Soviet Union!