Stories From Ukraine | Meet Sergei
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.
Beats flowed as a strobe light pulsed over a small crowd of people. This type of party was a nightly tradition at camp and as this group of campers danced I couldn’t help but notice one man with John Lennon eyeglasses and a Metallica shirt jumping up and down like he was on a pogo stick. This was my introduction to Sergei. A man with a unique personality and a forearm tattoo of Jesus with a story.
Sergei grew up in a non-believing household and with a father who would go on alcoholic binges. Sergei was not a very sociable child until the age of twelve. He shared that he believes this was probably because of the tension he felt at home when his father would have too much to drink. Sergei struggled with social phobia and kept to himself in his early years. At age ten Sergei learned about Jesus through some Protestant children’s literature. He recalls that he didn’t understand most of it but what he did understand touched him. This wasn’t enough for him to give his life to Jesus.
In middle school he became best friends with a classmate and became extremely social as they had many adventures together. This later led to Sergei attending many social events and being around the wrong influence in high school. Sergei began drinking alcohol and smoking marijuana. Despite his father’s history with alcohol he went down the same path of bringing throughout his university years.
While attending university to study law, Sergei had two people he considered to be his his best friends. They partied together and spent a great deal of time doing crazy things. Sergei shared that one of the friends would beat him badly when they would get too intoxicated. These friendships eventually deteriorated when Sergei sought out Christianity and a devotion to Jesus Christ.
Sergei found a part time job at the university where he met a Christian girl that he liked. She invited Sergei to church and he decided to attend. During his first visits at this church he felt very uncomfortable. Church goers would raise their hands and sing and it looked like madness to Sergei. But this is where Sergei met Jesus and gave his life to Him. Now Sergei smiles because he probably looks like that same madness when he dances and raises his hands during worship.
After university Sergei moved away and began attending a church that was founded by Australian bikers. This church was filled with ex- gangsters, drug dealers and outcasts. For some reason Sergei was attracted to this church and it’s unpolished personality. He had wondered, could God really work in the lives of such people – and God did! This is where he met Dennis (one of the worship leaders who played guitar) and developed a friendship. Dennis later moved to Kiev and began helping with worship at New Life Church and invited me to come visit… and that’s where he’s been ever since.
Sergei still has moments of frustration. He struggles with his failures because he’s heard stories about how people just change overnight. But for him it’s been a long road and he’s grateful for the journey. He hopes that his story will bring hope to those far away from Jesus and serves as a reminder that no-one is too far gone!
March 06, 2018
March 05, 2018