In 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department
of Education to teach morals and ethics (based on biblical principles) in
the public schools. They were invited to teach at prisons, businesses,
the fire and police departments and a large orphanage. About 100 boys and
girls who had been abandoned, abused, and left in the care of a government
-run program were in the orphanage. They relate the following 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 placed in a manger.
Throughout the story, the children and orphanage staff sat in amazement as
they listened. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every
word. Completing the story, we gave the children three small pieces of
cardboard to make a crude manger. Each child was given a small paper square,
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. Small squares of flannel, cut from a worn-
out nightgown 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
from the United States. The orphans were busy 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 6 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 the lad why there were two
babies in the manger.
Crossing his arms in front of him and looking at this completed manger
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 baby Jesus in the manger. Then Misha started to ad-lib. He made
up his own ending to the story as he said, "And when Maria laid the baby
in the manger, Jesus looked at me and asked me if I had a place to stay.
I told him I have no mamma and I have no papa, so I don't have any place to stay.
Then, Jesus told me I could stay with him. But I told him I couldn't, because
I didn't have a gift to give Him like everybody else did." But I wanted to
stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use
for a gift. I thought maybe if I kept Him warm, that would be a good gift. So
I asked Jesus, "If I keep you warm, will that be a good enough gift?"
And Jesus told me, "If you keep me warm, that will be the best gift anybody
ever gave me." "So I got into the manger, and then Jesus looked at me and He
told me I could stay with him---for always."
As little Misha finished his story, his eyes brimmed full of tears that
splashed down his little cheeks. Putting his hand over his face, his head
dropped to the table and his shoulders shook as he sobbed and sobbed. The
little orphan had found someone who would never abandon nor abuse him,
someone who would stay with him - FOR ALWAYS.
I've learned that it's not what you have in your life, but who you have
in your life that counts.
"God is able to do far more than we would dare to ask or even dream of -
infinitely beyond our highest prayers, desires, thoughts, or hopes."