Friday, June 23, 2017

Project expansion women's home, Belarus (1)

My name is Svetlana. I am 42 years old and I was born in Belarus in a family of common people. My father was a hard-working man, he repaired houses and furnaces and after work he brought alcohol to our home. My mother worked as a weaver and in her free time she sang in a local restaurant.

In the evenings my parents drank alcohol and usually they started to argue about «who took the money». They screamed, cursed and beat each other. Several times my mother beat my father with the knife. My mother was an aggressive woman, she beat us so we afraid of her. Several times she tried to commit a suicide but every time she was saved. As children we were waiting until our parents went to sleep so we could do our homework for school. My brother Slava said: "when I will grow up, I will destroy all shops with alcohol”. Now I understand that these words were said because of despair.

When everything became quiet I looked through the window up to heaven and asked: “God, if you are somewhere – do something”. Teachers from school sometimes visited us but we never told them what was going on at home – we were afraid to be sent to an orphanage. When I completed the basic school I entered the music school (to learn to play accordion). My parents were not interested in my education and I was not a good student at all: often I missed the lessons and I started to visit discotheques, drink alcohol and smoke cigarettes. At the age of 17 I became pregnant and people advised me to do an abortion. Often I wept in the nights. I couldn’t see my future. 

Svetlana and her family
But one day Valentin (the father of my child) and his mother came and took me to their village. I had turned 18 and we got married. Our healthy and beautiful daughter Viktoria was born. When Victoria was 3 years old I entered the Specialized School of Culture in a big city in our country. I brought alcohol and cigarettes and offered it to my friends to celebrate my birthday. One girl, Elena, said that she did not drink alcohol or smoked cigarettes but that she believed in God. Elena invited me to the service in an evangelical church. People were greeting each other and smiling. I had never seen such sincere, kind and loving relationships between so many people. For me it was amazing. It was interesting for me to observe the faces of people there. I could see the sense of hope and future in their eyes. I heard songs about God and tears appeared in my eyes. I understood that God Himself was in that place and that He touched me.

Women's home in Baranovichi
The thought came to me: He is the One I need! There was a call for those who wanted to accept Jesus in their hearts. I went forward and was prayed for. I began to visit a small group of believers and on Sundays I visited a church in a neighboring village. After three months I was baptized in a local river. My relationship with Valentin and his parents was not good, but when I believed in Jesus it became even worse. After 6 years of marriage he divorced me. I did not wanted to go back to my parents so I moved to another city and started to work there as a teacher in an art school. I visited church and gained many new friends, who supported me in a difficult times. I continued to communicate with my parents, brother and sister. I told them about the love of God for mankind, about the sacrifice of Jesus. From time to time I visited my parents.

Every time I visited them I remembered the scenes from my childhood and I felt again like a defenseless, helpless child. God touched my brother Slava and he opened his heart for Jesus, but living with my parents he also drank a lot of alcohol. Looking at him I remembered how he told me in his childhood that he would destroy all alcohol shops when he had grown up. But he also became an alcoholic. My mother kicked me out from her home and cursed me. My father and mother died in one day because of alcohol. Later Valentin and his parents also died from alcohol.

Group studies at the women's overnight home
I moved into the flat of my parents and started to work as a music teacher in a school in Baranovichi. Nothing was functioning in the flat, no gas, electricity, water or plumbing. Brothers from the church came to help me with this and so I met Evgeniy who had been in a rehabilitation center where the Lord had set him free from addiction. We got married and the Lord gave us three children: sons Michael and Ilya and a daughter Vasilisa. My oldest daughter Viktoria helped me in everything.

During this time my brother wanted to become free from alcohol and nicotine. He went to a Christian rehabilitation center. Although he had been an alcoholic for many, many years, the Lord set him totally free. He married Lidia and today Christians come to their flat, they praise the Lord together, sing songs and testify about what God has done in their life. The neighbors see this and are astonished how much Slava has changed. Now Slava serves in the rehabilitation center and helps addicted people to find freedom.

My husband Evgeniy and I serve also in a rehabilitation center: the women's home. We have women who do not have a place to live, who came out of prison and who were refused by their relatives. When I talk with these women I learn that almost all of them come from a family of alcoholics and in their childhood they had the same experience as I had. I understand their inner feelings. I know that only Jesus can heal these wounds and I point them to Christ. I thank God for His love.

Gifts for the much needed expansion of the women's home are very welcome! St. Traveling Light, Papendrecht IBAN: NL91RABO0118582275 BIC: RABONL2U. Do not forget to mention: BELARUS.

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