A Deadly Cultural Norm
Russia has long been known for its widespread problem with alcohol. In fact, researchers once projected that one in every two working-age men in Russia would die prematurely from it. With bottles of vodka available for just £2, it's hardly surprising that the country as a whole has had a bigger problem than most.
The good news is, that like many other countries, people are waking up to the benefits of having healthy habits that prevent poor health such as diet, exercise, AND cutting back on alcohol. For so many this message came too late and addiction is still one of the biggest social problems that Russia faces.
Most, if not all who have turned to the Men's Crisis Centre for help have experienced their lives fall apart because of it.... some, like Andrey, grew up in this culture.
"I am now an elderly man and for most of my adult life I was employed serving the Ministry of Internal Affairs. For retirement I only wanted peace and quiet in the same home I'd always lived with my family. I did not think too much about it. One day when I came home to find the locks had been changed and my family would not let me in. My adult children said that they did not want to live with me anymore because I drank too much and was a bad influence on my grandchildren. I was unaware… but it wasn't up for discussion.
For a long time, I lived in the tower block entrance thinking they might change their minds if I stayed close by. I wrote them notes but they would not talk to me or let me come home. Time passed and I had no money or food. Then I saw a business card about a crisis centre for men called 'House of Mercy'. I hoped I could eat there and get warm so made my way there. From the very first day I stayed at the Men's Crisis Centre I noticed that there were people who cared about my grief. They listened and offered kind, warm words. I had missed experiencing compassion and it was good to play chess and chat with the other men.
Last summer, my children visited. I thought they were coming to take me home. Sadly it was a cold meeting and they only wanted me to sign documents. For a long time, I couldn't forgive them for throwing me out onto the street after all the years I'd supported them. But with the help of the centre, I am getting there. They are teaching me how to give my worries to God, to live better and about forgiveness. Now I do not drink and I can meet my old age quietly and calmly."
We've been helping the Men's Crisis Centre for a couple of years with one-off gifts like the recent new freezer and dining chairs. The men have just moved into a building where they are secure from eviction, so now is the time to commit to regular support. They'll need £1,000 each month to fund running costs that include utilities, food, and basic essentials like bedding, towels, and clothes (most men have arrived homeless). We've seen several of the men transform and gain control of their lives because of the work that goes on here. Please pray for them and we look forward to sharing with you their successes.