Stories From Ukraine | Meet Arkasha
Stories aren’t just found in a good book, they’re hidden behind the eyes of the person right in front of you. They have flesh, they have feelings, and they have a name.
But are we willing to listen?
When we hear a story that moves us, we are inspired to do the same. Stories give to us the gift of understanding someone’s beginnings and struggles. They have within them the power to move us from being overcome to overcomers. And they remind us that we’re not alone.
Over the next several days I plan to share a few stories from friends that opened up their lives to me while I offered a listening ear and willing heart. My hope is that you’ll take the time to read, share, and consider slowing down the pace of your life to listen to the stories of the people around you today.
While growing up in Northeast Ukraine, Arkasha attended a baptist church and his family did their best to survive. When he was young his father, mother and sister moved to Kreminna to live with his father’s cousin because of financial circumstances. It wasn’t long before family tension and conflict surfaced due to the cousin’s lifestyle of heavy drinking and frivolous spending. Arkasha’s parents were often embarrassed and humiliated by the cousin’s actions and this later led to Arkasha’s father abandoning the family. With nowhere to go and a family divided Arkasha’s mother tried to help the cousin find treatment for his addictions but he didn’t want to be fixed and later died.
Arkasha’s family lived like this until he was sixteen. During this year his older sister by two years fleet to Kiev to become a hairdresser. With some unexpected circumstances and God’s help, Arkasha’s sister was accepted into Kiev’s national university. She had applied for a scholarship and, out of 10 people, she was the only one who received it.
While Arkasha’s sister was attending the university Arkasha’s family left the baptist church and his father met a woman and got married. This deeply pained Arkasha and his mother and sister severed all communication with Arkasha’s father. Although Arkasha was hurt he wanted to know his father desperately so he would meet with him in secret so that he wouldn’t upset his mother. These meetings lasted about five years until Arkasha asked his mother to forgive his father and she finally did. Even though reconciliation began to take place, Arkasha found himself with a hardened heart and no longer believed that God existed.
When Arkasha decided to enter university his grades were too low to get a scholarship so his sister decided to pay for his university expenses, but a miracle happened. After talking to faculty at the university his sister found out that they had an option for him to go to school for free if he would specialize in a specific field of study. His mom was ecstatic and thought it was a gift from God but to him it was just good luck. The first year of university for Arkasha was full of partying with girls and heavy alcohol consumption, but he felt restless and empty so he started praying to God and attending a bible study.
At the the end of the school year on the night before Arkasha was scheduled to head home for the summer he prayed that God would change his heart. He went to sleep and the next day he went to the train station. As he waited for the train to arrive to pick him up he felt like someone touched his shoulder and he turned around and saw no one. As he searched around looking for the person that touched him he sensed that God had done this as an answer to his prayer that he had prayed the night before and in that moment he turned back to God asking for forgiveness.
Arkasha began witnessing to his friends and his relationship with them fell apart like a house of cards. Although he lost many friends he felt completely free. This was when Arkasha found New Life Church in Kiev and began attending regularly and meeting new people that shared his faith. Arkasha graduated from the university and began to dream about his future. It was also around this time that the war began in east Ukraine. So to avoid being placed in the army he fled to St. Petersburg where he had relatives and began working there.
Arkasha is currently looking to find work in his field of interest (railroad engineering) and following Jesus with all his heart and soul. I found Arkasha to be one of the most genuine and giving people I’ve had the privilege to spend time with and this is just a snapshot of his story. His hope is that he can share the hope of Jesus Christ to those that relate to his story and are lost in their emptiness.
Want to connect with Arkasha and hear more about his story? Send him some encouragement right here…
March 06, 2018
March 05, 2018