This is a touching story from a wonderful servant of God who I met personally three years ago during a missions trip with SGA NZ (Slavic Gospel Association) to Russia. Oleg (pictured on the left) leads a ministry team from his church to the orphans in the city of Krasnoyarsk in Siberia. Every week members of the team bundle into a van and they visit one of the local orphanages. They sing songs, play games and teach them about Jesus. I joined them on one such visit while I was staying there. It was a beautiful thing to see. These children are starving for love. There are some amazing stories that come out of Russia from such teams as this. Here is one of them:
SGA-Sponsored Orphans Reborn Coordinator in Krasnoyarsk, Russia
This past December, our Orphans Reborn teams were traveling to children’s homes, social centers, and villages where poverty, despair and darkness reign. We held 14 Christmas outreaches, covered around 1,200 miles, and distributed gifts to more than 1,000 children. For many, this was their first real Christmas and they listened so attentively to the true story of Christmas . . . there has been born for you a Savior, who is Christ the Lord (Luke 2:11).
I would like to tell you about a special little girl who celebrated Christmas for the first time in her life. This girl is named Elya, and she is 10 years old. When I first saw her, I would have said that she was no older than 7. Two years ago, the authorities removed her from her dysfunctional home where the living conditions were horrible.
Elya was shy and stood quietly at the doorway to the classroom, unable to decide whether or not to come in. When the children who were in class saw her in the doorway, they shouted to her, “Go away!” I couldn’t understand why they were chasing her away. However, the children told me, “Oleg, don’t go over to her; she’s not normal. She killed a cat!” I learned later that this girl arrived at the children’s home, she saw a cat, grabbed it by its tail and with all her might, smacked it on the ground and killed it! Why? What was causing such cruel behavior towards animals? Was it a psychological disorder, or was she trying to make other children afraid so that nobody would touch her?
I decided to call Elya over to me. She indecisively approached me. I hugged her, and then I asked her about her life at the children’s home, and about her wishes and dreams. Then I told her a little bit about God, and that He loves her and is always ready to protect her. Ever since, she has run up to me each week before the lessons and we talk with each other about life and about God. Her heart has melted slowly from its grief and anger towards adults, her environment and her hard life, which was in no way her fault.
During the Christmas celebration, Elya put on her prettiest dress and sat in the first row. This was her first Christmas! She listened attentively to everything and watched with a little smile on her face, revealing that God was working in her heart. At that moment, the joy of the Good News of her Savior flooded into the heart of this chosen child. For the first time in her life, she received a Christmas gift from strangers who love her. The gift was simple—personal hygiene products, school supplies, a Christian brochure for children, and a toy. Nonetheless, these were now her personal belongings, given to her in love. After looking at what was in the gift, she carefully put everything back in the parcel. She squeezed it to herself, then she came up to me simply said, “Thank you!” and smiled. I thought, “This smile was worth all of our efforts, all of the money and time spent, our labors and prayers!”
I, along with the Orphans Reborn team, am thankful to everyone who made this outreach possible. Thank you, SGA partners, who over many years have been faithful and directly involved in this ministry, praying for us and sending the needed funds! May our Lord bless you and bring you blessings many times over for the freely given offering of your hearts!