Agape news

 Agape Ministries in Belorus

 

There are 6 different orphanages in our area visited by various churches. As an Agape ministry team made up of Christians from several local churches, we wanted to branch out and begin ministering in an orphanage that others are not working in. We began planning a trip to the orphanage in the village of Kalinovka, in the Minsk region of Belarus.

We set our sights on January 19th and began our preparations, which took several weeks. It wasn't all problem free, really - for example, there were complications in acquiring and preparing the presents we wanted to take with us. We bought gift boxes and everything to go into them: toys, candy, toothpaste, toothbrushes, soap, and other useful things, Christian keychains and magnets, etc. There were 115 children eagerly awaiting our presents... and awaiting visitors, as well - a rare occurrence for them. Literally a few days before our trip, our funds for presents ran out before we had finished making up the gift boxes. We continue with other preparations, trusting God, knowing that we were doing His work and that He would not leave our prayers for help unanswered. A day before we had planned to go to Kalinovka, after untold prayers, we were given a huge amount of ready made gift bags with candy, toys, and useful items to take to the orphanage. It was simply a miracle!

The day finally arrived, Sunday, January 19th. We had quite a trip to make that day - Kalinovka was a good 80 km from Minsk, where we live. We were excited, all the same. The weather was wonderful, sunny and blue skies clear of clouds. This only lifted our spirits all the more. As soon as we arrived at the orphanage, we were met by a crowd of kids who opened the gates for us with great enthusiasm. We were very well received by both the children and their caretakers. As usual, there were numerous helpers, as boys helped us carry the huge pile of gifts into the orphanage, and the caretakers and teachers helped us up the snow-covered, slippery steps to the main entrance.

We immediately began setting up for our program at top speed: the girls in our group divided the presents out according to age group; the 'performers' began preparing for their presentations; our sound man started setting up the microphones and video camera while our 'emcees' rehearsed their introductions... and finally we were ready.

The doors of the auditorium were opened and the children swarmed in, racing to their places, and in less than 5 minutes, they were all present and eagerly awaiting the start of our program. We started out with a couple of 'ice-breaker' games, and everyone who took part received a small prize. After that, the amazingly talented Natalya Murzenshtolz began with her ChemiKids show. She demonstrated different fun chemistry experiments while dialoguing with the children. They eagerly answered her questions about chemistry and took part in the experiments even more eagerly! They thought she was the greatest thing ever.

As great of as success as Natalya's ChemiKids was, the program wasn't over yet. Next up was Sergei, who has been a rapper and musician for 9 years now. He put on his 'Sparks of Divinity" program for the children, sharing his testimony and artistry with the children. Sergei put his heart into sharing the story of how God had miraculously changed his life, something that these children don't hear too often... and definitely not from professional rappers.

Finally, there was a message on the real meaning of Christmas. (We celebrate Christmas on January 7th here, so we were still in 'Christmas season.') Along with this Christmas message, we shared a short testimony challenging these children and teens to think about their lives, what they're living for, and what the future may hold.

It was great to look out and see so many kids with no hint of boredom or apathy on their faces, who were actively involved in the whole program and joyfully soaking it all in.

We wrapped up with a fun and informal time of passing out gifts and taking pictures with the kids. Some of the children immediately opened their gifts and started showing them to us, excited about what they'd received, while others wanted to put off the moment so as to savor it later.

The children saw us off with multiple requests to come back again and again and again! Once again, we were able to reach the hearts of needy children and give them a few moments of joy, lifting their spirits and demonstrating God's unconditional love for them. If there were those who didn't feel and see God's love this time, well, we'll just have to visit again. Praise God for helping us grow and develop this ministry to these precious children.

 

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