Last week in Kiev, we made preparations for the upcoming Ukrainian Christmas Celebrations by assembling food packets and candy boxes for the Christmas outreach programs. With the help of Christian Hope Church volunteers, we put together 350 food packets and 600 candy boxes. It was fun experience, and brought us joy knowing that what we are doing is preparing the way for the Lord to meet with poor, abandoned, and orphaned children.
First, we went to a big grocery store called Metro and bought food for seniors, and candy for the children. We buy loose candies and then we package them in a special box that has a Christmas message printed on it. It is a great way to give candy while we present the message of Christmas at the same time. We get the boxes from a Christian organization in Ukraine. Every Christmas MPI reaches out to many hundreds of seniors and children in Kiev and Dnepropetrovsk. Many of them have never heard about Jesus or had a gift given to them. When we go to the orphanages or invite them to our church for a Christmas play, we pursue two goals: first to reach them with the Gospel and true meaning of Christmas (because a lot of people follow pagan ways of worship and don’t know the truth about Christ), and second to bless people with a gift – something they can use and may not otherwise be able to get: like a candy box and food packet.
This years’ winter came too early. In the second week of December we had a major blizzard that struck most of Ukraine. Many villages were left without power, and numerous roads couldn’t be plowed due to the enormous amount of snow. In two days we got one month worth of snow. It led to the worst traffic ever in the history of our capitol city, Kiev. Many people were admitted to hospitals with broken arms and legs due to the slippery sidewalks. In all of that commotion God kept us safe and filled us with joy as we prepared for the greatest time of the year – Christmas!
The Bible says it is better to give than to receive. It is amazing how the body of Christ works around the world. When you give, you start a process that involves different people in different countries and influences many people. We all become one, driven by our love and passion for the lost and our commitment to the Lord to give, for we have all received eternal salvation and cannot live without sharing it with others, or can we? May our hearts never forget what the Lord has done for us, or get too tired to give, so that others may also receive the joy of salvation this year, and in years to come. Let’s be prepared to do that for as long as God allows us to live.
On behalf of Ukrainian Christians, we would like to express our deepest gratitude to those who made this preparation time possible – we are thankful for our dear Canadian sponsors, who share their love and care with those less fortunate. We pray for God’s abundant blessings upon your life and families, and may the Lord be closer to you than ever before. We also would like to ask you to pray that during the time of Christmas celebration (which is on the 7th of January in Ukraine), God will minister to the spiritual needs of people, while we serve their physical needs.
God be with you,
Andrei and Tamila Shander in Kiev, Ukraine