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Homeless in a War Zone

Not all have the privilege of a childhood in a secure, loving home. Some lives are dominated by relentless let-downs and tragedy. For Andrey, this led to orphan status, homelessness and drug abuse. Born in Ukraine, Andrey is now 26 years old and this is his story.

A family that fell apart.

As a young boy, Andrey's father left the family and his mother became an alcoholic. We don’t know all the details, but shortly after, his mother was paralysed and she died. The only remaining relative able to care for Andrey was his older sister. She too became an addict (for her it was drugs) and at 21 she also died. The family home was sold by his aunt who then disappeared without leaving him a penny. He had no-one left and at nine-years-old, Andrey was officially an orphan and taken to an institution.

Homeless in a war zone.

Having completed his schooling within the orphanage system, aged 15 he no longer had carers or a place to live. Shortly after, the war in Ukraine started. He was hungry and living on the streets and frequently witnessed bombings. Not yet an adult, he remembers these were horrible, frightening times. Belonging nowhere... still carrying the weight of abandonment.

Led astray.

At 18, Andrey left Ukraine's war zone in search of a better life in Russia where he found casual work on a building site. His co-worker friends did drugs - they offered them to him and he joined them. For the next several years he was drawn into a world where he could not find a way out.

One day, everything changed.

The LORD is close to the broken-hearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed. Psalm 34 v 18

Andrey felt compelled to go to church (the church that Yan and Nadya also attend) and he eagerly gave his life to Jesus. Andrey decided to leave the building site where co-workers had dragged him into a life that no longer fitted. Yan and Nadya were there for him, helping him to grow in his faith, to heal and find peace. “He is still a very broken and hurt person with very low self-esteem,” they told us. The St Petersburg transition home was a real blessing for Andrey when he had nowhere to live and Yan taught him practical skills by getting him involved with the repair of other orphans' flats.

Yan and Nadya see so much potential in Andrey. They invited him on a youth weekend with all their other orphanage leavers. "It was wonderful to have him there with us, he was a great help and he talked freely with our non-believers about his new faith." Andrey at last feels included.

“I was so blessed at being invited to the retreat. This was the first time in my life I have felt like I was part of a family,” he told them.

Today, Andrey has moved from the transition home to a flat he rents as he now has casual labour with a different building firm. He is hopeful this job will last but it is far from guaranteed. Andrey needs Russian citizenship - he needs this so he has the right to work legally in a secure job but arranging documents is difficult and costly.

We thank God for how much Andrey’s life has changed and for the day he met Yan and Nadya and became part of a support group. Please pray for him and other young people like him who have fought to overcome so much tragedy.


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