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 related 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

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

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

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

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