Part One: 2016
It was a beautiful day with the bullfinches singing loudly. Usually, in our location of Russia, these birds sing at the end of February and the beginning of March. But this day was special. This gloomy November day, with a boy named Sasha, we went to find his parent’s house.
Our Transition Home in Russia is a ministry home for orphanage graduates. We help these kids find Christ and disciple them in their faith while teaching life skills. This is Sasha’s story.
Sasha lived in our Transition Home in Russia. Before this trip, I learned some of his history and I knew some of the awful circumstances of his childhood until he was 9 years old. Sasha had his 10th birthday in the orphanage. He came from a family where his parents drank a lot of alcohol. His father died alone working at a cow farm with nobody to help save him. After these traumatic events Sasha’s mother disappeared. Calling her reported residence produced zero results as to her whereabouts. She was just gone. Sasha insisted on going to his village to try to find his mother as he continued to miss and think about her.
I always have mixed feelings fulfilling these requests of our residents. I am glad to go with them to visit their home and to see their faces light up when they talk about their childhood. They often only speak of the good things. But when we find the home of their parents, they lose that light, as these houses, as a rule, tend to look poorly. It’s even harder to hear from the neighbors the details of their childhood and the fate of their families. No one lives in the Transition Home because their life was good. This trip was no different.
Sasha’s eyes were shining with joy when he told us about the many adventures of his childhood. But the light went out when he saw his home. There were no words to describe it. It was even harder when we talked with the neighbors. They saw the story of this family; how they lived and suffered through sins and alcohol and then came to a sad ending. When asking about Sasha’s mother almost all of the neighbors said in a whisper that she was dead and there was something criminal involved. One old woman said that they had been very glad when Sasha was taken to the orphanage because usually kids are the most helpless in such families and have no protection. They were very amazed to see Sasha as a handsome young man who didn’t drink, had healthy habits and had a healthy relationship with God.
It was hard to see and understand all this, but at the same moment, it was good to comfort Sasha. To remind him of his walk with God and how he was learning to love the Lord. That he has his Heavenly Father and loving church to help support him in this world. Our whole team was praying for Sasha, his village and his neighbors. We prayed for Sasha’s future; for receiving the blessed future his parents couldn’t even dream of. We also prayed for him in returning to his village where he could bring the Light of Christ to that dark area where sins, alcohol and adultery reigned. As we prayed, the Bullfinches continued to sing. Their joyful November songs praising the Lord above our heads.
Part 2: 2017
For many years, we have served the orphans in the Transition Home. When an orphan “graduates” from the orphanage the government gives them an apartment. We always feel happy for them as they are blessed in this way after the suffering and hardships and having no family, home, or security. In June, Sasha had blessed changes in his life. We were surprised and thrilled with the amazing gift that the administration of Starojilovski district gave to the graduates. They were given apartments in the cottage village belonging to Starojilovo. The houses are very nice with one floor and a little bit of land. There are 4 owners for each house and they have a big kitchen, bathroom, hall, and individual heating. The homes were cleaned before move-in and they were so nice for them. On entering his apartment Sasha took out his Bible and put it on his windowsill saying, “I want God’s Word to live in my home.” He then knelt and lifted up his prayers of gratitude to the Lord for what He was doing in his life.
Part 3: 2019
During the past two years a lot of good changes happened in Sasha’s life. While living in our Transition Home, he had tried to look for his parents. We also tried to help him learn his history. In connecting with the heads of administration, neighbors and people who knew his family, we traced the descent of his family and parents into alcohol. They relayed a history of abuse and alcohol and remembered a young boy that was always hungry and dirty. This boy only looked for food or shelter from the anger of his alcoholic parents. It was hard to see how Sasha received this news but I am thankful that the Lord helped him recover from this shock. The Lord gave him comfort and peace. With great fervor, Sasha pursued Christian fellowship and a life for Christ. He studied the Scriptures, loved God’s Word and accepted Christ as His Savior. He is incredibly gifted in memorizing Scripture and blesses us with his recitation. Recently, he was also baptized.
Several days ago, I received a phone call. They said that Sasha’s mother was sitting in their office and she was asking them to help find him. But first they had to know if Sasha wanted to be found. When Sasha was told that his mother was alive he was so happy and he allowed me to accompany him to this meeting with his mother. She visited our Transition Home the following day.
While Sasha’s joy was endless, his mother’s was less so. Her son was now a Christian. He told her, “Mom, I was waiting for you for so long. I didn’t believe them when they said that you had died. I love you and I already forgave you long ago. I want you to love the Lord and to believe in Jesus Christ.”
She had been living in Ukraine during the time Sasha was at the orphanage but now she lived not far from Ryazan, where we were. Sasha began visiting her and her boyfriend. But now his enthusiasm was dying as his mother was not a Christian and she wanted Sasha to follow her way of living. She attended church with him once but not again. What a hard place to be! But Sasha perseveres in praying for his mother to come to Christ, to have a renewed relationship with her, and praising the Lord for the opportunity to have this chance after such a long separation. Please support him in prayer as he looks to renew this relationship with his mother and be an example of Christ to her.