One-of-a-kind Christmas program aims to deliver ‘star of hope’ to 75,000 needy children
LOVES PARK, Ill. — A unique Christmas program will bring the gift of hope to thousands of children caught in the devastating wars in Israel and Ukraine.
American Christians are supporting the annual Christmas campaign called Immanuel’s Child that will deliver gifts and a “star of hope” to as many as 75,000 needy children this festive season, including those living on the frontline of wars in Israel and Ukraine.
Last year, the program run by Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) in partnership with local evangelical churches brought Christmas cheer to more than 56,000 children living in poverty across Russia, Ukraine, and other former Soviet nations as well as Israel.
This year, Jewish evangelical churches in Israel and local evangelical churches across war-torn Ukraine will deliver gifts to even more suffering families, along with a children’s Bible and a personal message from Christians in the U.S. who are praying for them.
“The message of ‘God loves you’ from an American, printed on a Star of Bethlehem paper ornament, is the most treasured item, and is often hung up in a place of honor in the home,” said Eric Mock, SGA’s senior vice president of ministry operations.
The Illinois-based organization supports local evangelical churches in Israel and Ukraine as they go door-to-door delivering aid and sharing the Gospel with families facing ongoing deadly rocket attacks.
‘Authentic Hope’ in ‘Year of Suffering’
The church-led effort shows those torn apart by war and those living in deep poverty that God cares about them in their distress, said SGA president Michael Johnson.
“People often ask the local Christians, ‘Why are you helping us?’” he said. “They’re deeply moved when the reply is, ‘We’re here because God loves you’.”
The Christmas story of the Christ child in Bethlehem’s manger brings “authentic hope” to war-shattered lives, Mock said. “Many people in Ukraine and Israel are hearing the biblical account of Jesus’ birth and the Gospel message for the first time, and the response is amazing. It’s like a crescendo at the end of a year of suffering,” he said.
“The world is embroiled in wars and everything that divides us. But, in a sea of division, the wonder of the Christmas story brings us together and gives us hope.”
Founded in 1934, Slavic Gospel Association (SGA, www.sga.org) helps “forgotten” orphans, widows and families in Ukraine, Russia, the former Soviet countries of Eastern Europe, Central Asia, and Russian-speaking immigrants in Israel – caring for their physical needs and sharing the life-transforming Gospel. SGA supports an extensive grassroots network of local evangelical missionary pastors and churches in cities and rural villages across this vast region.
PHOTO CUTLINE: ‘HOPE OF CHRISTMAS’ COMES TO ISRAEL, UKRAINE: American Christians are supporting the annual Immanuel’s Child Christmas program that will deliver gifts and a “star of hope” to as many as 75,000 needy children this festive season, including those living on the frontline of wars in Israel and Ukraine.