A Christmas Orphan
"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
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
his 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 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."