KENAI, Alaska – In partnership with local Russian evangelical churches, SOAR International is planning to distribute Easter gift baskets to orphaned children in Far Eastern Russia in Communities across the Bering Sea from Nome, Alaska.
SOAR (Service & Outreach Alaska to Russia) began its ministries to Russian in the Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, but now has expanded to Western Russia as well. The organization’s three-fold mission is to :
- Encourage and assist local, evangelical Russian pastors and churches
- Equip local believers for ministry and discipleship
- Evangelize the lost
SOAR is placing emphasis on the Easter Gift Basket program because Easter is a holiday that is celebrated in Russia more than Christmas. Some areas in Russia do not celebrate Christmas at all, yet on Easter Sunday, even unbelievers can be heard greeting each other with the traditional, “He is risen,” and responding with, “He is risen, indeed!”
The Easter baskets contain a mix of winter clothing, school items, personal hygiene supplies, toys, candies, and a Russian Bible. Considering that the temperatures in Far Eastern Russia range from 5° to -31° Fahrenheit in the winter to between 41° to 57° in mid-July, it is easy to understand why one Russian pastor said that the thing that has made the children smile the most in the past is finding pairs of warm socks.
The baskets are distributed at small ceremonies where the Gospel is first presented. The gifts of kindness are demonstrations of love and care that are intended to show the love of Christ shining in the darkness of an orphaned child’s life.
A spokesperson for SOAR said, “Our hope is that this project is merely a pebble that will turn into a ripple effect throughout the country.”
The Easter Gift Basket project is part of SOAR’s overall ministry that includes teaching English as a second language and holding Bible camps. The ministry “strives to be culturally sensitive, seeking to understand and minister to and with a “Russian mind.”
- Mission Network News, Help reach 2,500 kids with the Gospel this Easter
- SOAR International Ministries, Easter is the most significant religious holiday in Russia
- Wikipedia, Chukotka Autonomous Okrug
- By CREEES.UVA (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons