Although Christmas is a joyful season, many of us dread the hecticness of purchasing, organizing, and wrapping gifts. We often end up buying dozens of presents: new toys for children, fancy chocolates for co-workers, gift cards for relatives and friends…some of us may have even bought a new chew-toy for our dog! Yet, in other areas of the globe, the act of exchanging these many gifts would seem extravagant.
The January GO Team serving in Ukraine noticed a lack of Christmas presents given to children and committed to participating in the distribution of hundreds of Gift of Hope boxes throughout the Zaporizhya region and beyond.
Our local ministry partner, Mission Eurasia, explained that over the course of the Ukrainian Orthodox holiday season (early January), over 127,000 Gift of Hope boxes are given to children across Eurasia. Sure enough, throughout their ten days of ministry, the GO Team gave out almost 20,000 parcels to Ukrainian children.
And these boxes are no ordinary Christmas packages! Each container is stuffed with little presents of toys, candies, and school supplies. As well, each gift box includes an illustrated Bible and Spark magazine! The box itself is an evangelism tool for parents and includes a code for the NewLife App, allowing the recipient to digitally access Scripture in their local language.
A new addition to each Gift of Hope box this year was a little heart, with a blank space where the receiving child could write his or her name. This may jog your memory, as you might have found a similar paper heart in your mailbox at Christmastime! This is a clear reminder that the love of Christ has no borders; it spreads across every nation!
The following quote was sent to us from the president of Mission Eurasia. It encompasses the passion the GO Team has for sharing the true meaning of Christmas with young people in Ukraine.
"Merry Orthodox Christmas from Ukraine! It is wonderful to be here witnessing the amazing gospel impact that the next generation leaders are making in their communities. During the Orthodox Christmas season, our Mission Eurasia leaders and my team of colleagues from Canada are mobilizing local churches to use the Christmas holiday as an opportunity to reach hurting children in their communities by distributing Gift of Hope boxes!"