Ukraine: This is part two of the Mercy Projects story about a young man named Zhenya and his journey from a homeless “street child” to raising his own family today for the Lord. (Did you read part 1?). Here is Zhenya in his own words:
Note from Jeff – Zhenya’s story is remarkable because of the depth of healing that has taken place in his life. When Zhenya was 10-years-old, he and his older brother Sasha escaped their physical abuse at home and moved to the streets of Kyiv. “It was a better life then in our apartment,” he said. They lived in a basement under an apartment building with about 40 other street children. Most of them sniffed glue which made the hunger pains go away. He didn’t sniff glue however, and one day a Christian family discovered their plight.
Zhenya Continues in his Own Words
One day Mr. Bitulski invited my brother Sasha and I to move in with their family. We felt safe there. We learned about Jesus and found God in our lives. This was around the year 2000. Many of us knew God by that time and our lives had really changed. The amazing thing was that I wasn’t in an orphanage. I was in a family. I was born again, was baptized, and God really worked on my heart. I went back to school. What we dreamed about in the basement, what we would sing about, really did come true. God did it!
Christian Foster Families Start to Help
Eventually we moved in with another Christian family who had more space. From there, another Christian foster family, the Startsevs, took us in. Both of those families were in your program. My brother and I were happy to just have someplace safe to live, to go to school, and to have a family. I loved reading letters from our sponsors, and I still have them!
One afternoon there was a phone call from the EEO (now Mercy Projects) Christian Center in Borydankya. They had an extra ticket to the summer camp and asked the family if one of the kids would like to go. They chose me! It was my only visit but it was very important in my life. It was another sign of God working and I met Godly counselors and young people there who loved me. I loved it at camp because there were so many kids like me.
Getting Married to Ivanna
“I saw Zhenya when he came over to pick up some chairs at our house,” Ivanna said. “I knew he was in the foster family and I thought he was cute! But he was 17 and I was 18.”
Zhenya says, “It was another way I could see God working in my life. I didn’t know how long I would stay in the foster family. What would I do at 18? I was without registration papers and wondered how could I live? I thought, I love Ivanna and we could get married and start a family.”
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SOURCE: Assist News, Mercy Projects