In 1994 twoAmericans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics in the public school. They were invited to teach at prisons, and a large orphange. About 100 boys and girls who had been abandoned, abused and left in the care of a government- run program were living in an orphanage.They related the story in their own words.
It was nearing the holiday season, 1994, time for our orphans to hear, for the first time, the traditional story of Christmas. We told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem. finding no room in the inn, the couple went to a stable,where the baby Jesus was born, and then placed in a manger. Through out the story, the children and orphange staff sat in amazement as they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word.
Completeling the story, we gave the children three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square, which was cut from yellow napkins I had brought with me. No colored paper was available in the city. Following instructions, the children tore the paper and carefully laid strips in the manger for straw. Some squares of flannel, cut from worn out night gown an American lady was throwing away as she left Russia, were used for the baby's blanket. A doll like baby was cut from tan felt we had brought form the U.S. The orphans were assembling their manger as I walked among them to see if they needed any help. All went well until I got to one table where little Misha sat. He looked to be about six years old and had finished his project. As I looked at the little boy's manger, I was startled to see not one, but two babies in the manger. Quickly, I called for the translator to ask why there were two babies in the manger. Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed scene, the child began to repeat the story very seriously. For such a young boy, who had only heard the Christmas story once, he related the happenings accurately ~ until he came to the part where Mary put the Jesus in the manger, then Misha started to ad-lib. He made up his own ending to the story as he said... "And when Mary laid the baby in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had no place to stay. I told him I had no mamma and pappa, and I have no place to stay. Then Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn't, because I didn't have have a gift to give him like everyone else did. But I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. So I asked Jesus, "If I keep you warm, will that be a good gift?" And Jesus told me "If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody has ever given me.' So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and told me I could stay with him~ for always."
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that fell down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head dropped to the table and his little shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The little orphan had found someone who would never abondon nor abuse him, someone who would stay with him ~~~for always
I've learned that it' not what you have in your life, but WHO you have in your life that counts " Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you." 1 Thess. 5: 16-18
What gifts would you bring to the manger?