Stories From Ukraine | Meet Misha
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.
When I met Misha I expected to encounter a man with a strong ego and a sense of individualism. Misha came to camp alone and he seemed to have a presence about him that could be easily misunderstood as self-confidence; that is until you get to know his story and “who” that presence is that radiates from him.
I sat down with Misha and asked if he would share his story with me while drinking warm kompot at the dinner table. He graciously said, “я почту за честь!” So here’s a bit of the beauty that unfolded.
Misha was born about twenty-nine years ago. His parents were unable to make their marriage work so they unfortunately settled for divorce. Misha was only three years old at the time. Shortly afterwards, Misha’s father was incarcerated for reasons I did not ask. He was sentenced to ten years. Misha’s mother poured her life into her son the best she knew how with the resources she had available, but this wasn’t enough to fill the void of a father and the inevitable life of living on the streets. At age fourteen Misha began befriending drug dealers and thugs that accepted him and began living on the streets. By the age of sixteen he was fully engaged in drug use, dealing, and other street life activity. But this is all Misha knew for he lacked the presence of a father figure and wise guidance.
When Misha turned twenty he began seeing some of his street friends come to know the everlasting love of Jesus Christ and watched them turn away from dealing drugs and the way of the street. Although Misha began to see criminals change, he was still unsure and skeptical – even hardened in his heart. That all came crashing down for Misha at age twenty-six. By this time he had seen some of his friends die from overdosing and those that had left the street life were growing up in their faith and had families and lived generously for others. The astonishing thing was that his friends that were passionately following Jesus never judged him or left him. They continued to be present in Misha’s life and proved over six years of witnessing that the Spirit of God (a patience and kindness that leads to repentance) was real and tangible. It was at this time that Misha surrendered his life to Christ and entered into a rehab center.
Three years have passed since that transformative day and Misha’s story is even more remarkable thanks to Jesus Christ. Misha has now reconciled his relationship with his father and is finding redemption in his suffering. Misha and his friends have opened up their own rehab center in Ukraine to offer hope and healing to those that have no-one or nowhere to turn as they struggle on the streets and with additions. The “presence” that I talked about that beams from Misha… well it’s not a self-confidence but a deep humility of dependence on Christ who has saved him. We could learn so much from Misha. I know I did!
Want to connect with Misha and hear more about his story? Send him some encouragement right here…
March 06, 2018
March 05, 2018