This story started in spring of 2010 when a group of young adults from the Baptist Church distributed sports shoes among children from difficult and poor families. I was a driver of that team who were going to special families, meet with parents, tell them about God’s love and give a small present to their child or children – a pair of shoes.
In our trip, we met different families. All of them were big, poor or difficult ones. Each of the families met us also differently. Some mothers were glad to see us and get a present for their children, others – were trying to play games with us and wanted us to give them several pairs of shoes for one child. Of course, we couldn’t do this because, first of all, we didn’t have enough shoes, and the second, we understood that the parents might sell extra shoes to get some money for alcohol. Seeing the conditions of their houses, it was difficult for us to tell the parents “No,” but we had to do that.
In the end of our trip, we came to one of the last addresses that we had on our list. We were met by some children who were playing outside. There were two boys of 4 and 6 years old and two girls of 5 years old. The children were from two different families that lived close to each other. I was stricken when I saw how poorly the children were dressed. It was early spring and it was cold enough outside but some of the children were wearing worn slippers and light jackets. And when I looked at the houses where they lived, my heart was broken completely – it was obvious that their parents were alcoholics.
In one of the houses, there was one window without glass and there was not any heating system. The door was opened, and we could see only the darkness inside. The children met us very delightfully and chattered with us in their childish way. We asked about their parents, but it turned out that their parents were not at home at that time. We spent some time with the children and gave each of them a pair of shoes. It was time for us to leave when we saw a couple with two children walking towards us. One of the girls told us that they were her grandparents and her sisters of three and ten-years old who were coming back from their relative. We were happy to meet them. Both grandparents were drunk but spoke with us very pleasantly. We told them about the purpose of our visit and invited their grandchildren to the Emmaus Club and said that it is special club for children from difficult homes. We told the grandparents that their grandchildren would have a nice hot lunch, and they could learn about God there.
The grandparents promised that they would send their grandchildren to the club. I doubted in my heart because I knew that it would be difficult for the children to go by bus to Illichevsk where the club is, because they lived in the village nearby.
Sometime later, Mark and I visited the Emmaus Club and I saw some new children. Their faces were familiar to me, but I couldn’t remember where I had met them. I asked Zoya, the teacher of the club, about those children and she told me that they were from the village that we had visited with the shoe project. I was pleasantly surprised. Each following time when I visited the Emmaus club, I saw those children full of joy.
In the beginning of July, I had an opportunity to help at the Christian Camp that is run by my church. The oldest girl, Aliona, from that village was at that camp also. It seemed to me that each day of the camp was sunshine for her. There was not any other child who would smile as she did, who was as appreciative as she was. It was a new life for her, a new page of her life that was filled with a new sense. For all children from Emmaus Club, the time at the Christian Camp is always special. They find new friends, they spend a wonderful time there, they learn about God more. Their time at the camp they keep in their memories throughout the year. Aliona is one of these children. Now she knows that there is another life, different from what she sees at her house. In my heart, I have a great hope that this little girl will be a good evangelist at her house that is full of disorder and in their house there will be sunshine instead of darkness….
May God bless those who help such children as Aliona to experience another life. To be sure, you’re help touches their lives and change them for better. (MUCH provides financial support for the food program at Emmaus Club and at the Christian Camp.)
Until next time,