Sometime in 1994, two Americans answered an invitation from the Russian Department of Education to teach morals and ethics public schools. These lessons were to be taught from the Bible, per the Russian's request. My, my how the times have changed in just a short span. These Missionaries were invited to teach at prisons, businesses, the fire and police departments and a large orphanage.
As the holiday season was coming to a close, the orphans heard the traditional Christmas story for the first time. The American Missionaries told them about Mary and Joseph arriving in Bethlehem; and after finding no room in the inn, Mary and Joseph went to a stable, where Jesus was born and placed in the manger. Throughout the story, the children listened in amazement. Some sat on the edges of their stools, trying to grasp every word.
As a follow-up activity to the story, the Missionaries used a hands-on approach- using crafts to lay down some Biblical teaching. Each child was given three small pieces of cardboard to make a crude manager. Each child was also given a small paper square, cut from yellow napkins that the children tore into strips, and then carefully laid in the manger for straw. Small squares of flannel from a discarded nightgown were used for the baby's blanket. Pieces of tan felt were used for the doll-like baby.
As the Missionaries made their way around the room to observe the children, one of the American Missionaries noted, "All went well until I got to one table where 6-year-old Misha sat. He appeared to have 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."
The translation specialist noted Misha very accurately recalled the story that had been told until he came to the part where Mary put Jesus in the manger. "Misha then started to ad lib and paraphrase his own ending," recalls the observer.
"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 momma 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. I wanted to stay with Jesus so much, so I thought about what I had that maybe I could use for a gift. So I asked Jesus, if I kept Him warm, would that be a good enough gift?"
At that point 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 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 or abuse him, someone who would stay with him... for always!