26 Oct Andrei – With the World Without Orphans Cyclying Team in France
Andrei is one of my many new friends from Ukraine! During the last eight days we have hung out of vans shooting photos together and he has saved me from some tight scrapes, holding on to me as I leaned out of a moving van, the only thing separating me from pounding into the pavement at high speed. I am proud to call him my brother and I feel honored to tell his story.
Born into a family of artists, Andrei was the son of an air gymnast in the Moscow circus. As a baby his parents separated and his Mother was left alone to care for three boys. She soon developed a terrible drinking problem, and life became chaotic. Andrei’s older brother died by suicide and his younger brother went to a psychiatric hospital. At this time Andrei’s desperation sent him running from home. He was only 6 years old. Andrei spent his childhood homeless, sleeping in a basement and begging for food. He found other boys doing the same, and he began to drink, smoke and sniff glue to comfort himself.
Miraculously, someone saw his need and intervened. When he was 12 years old a woman from the local church began to visit the basement and bring the street boys fresh food and stories of God’s love. She invited the children to sleep in the church instead, where she and her husband could teach and care for the boys. It was far from perfect conditions, but Andrei said he felt truly safe, and he wholeheartedly gave his life to Jesus. He gave up smoking and other harmful habits. He said even in poverty, the warmth of their caregivers kept them strong, and they prayed together for God to provide for them.
As a young man Andrei began to emerge as a leader among the other boys. He wanted to be a pastor and learned to play guitar. He entered a school of music and accepted a position as worship leader of his church, where he is known for his passion for God and humble sincerity. He now teaches at the school where he graduated, and writes many of his own worship songs, he is married and has a five month old son named Lion. His inborn talent as an artist and his heartbreaking stories of childhood have all been redeemed for the glory of God. He asserts, “I am convinced that whatever circumstances and situations are waiting for me in my life, I can rely on my God, He is my Father, and I am not an orphan.”
Special thanks to Mackenzie Jackson for helping me tell this story