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Thursday, February 02, 2012

Meet My Friend Sasha
Sasha is twenty six years old. He entered the Center for Social Rehabilitation (a homeless shelter) nine months ago. Some of the church brothers found him in a hospital where he had been taken because he was half dead and his feet were frostbitten and decaying. The hospital amputated all 5 toes on one foot and several others on the other foot. Sasha was homeless and addicted to drugs and alcohol. The center offered him a place to stay, care for his feet and hope for change.

I remember the first time we met. Sasha, like many young guys from the street was a bit of a wise guy. They often have the idea that they are smarter than other people, and he certainly had that attitude. I wondered if he would continue in rehabilitation. Surprisingly, every week when we came to teach, Sasha was still there. He sat in a chair, his feet wrapped in bloody bandages. He couldn't stand or walk on his own. I often wondered what it must be like to have to be helped to the open hole outhouse to "do your business" in this condition. It was clear that Sasha was beginning to change. He was listening to the teaching and he began to participate in the worship. He now had a genuine smile instead of a wise-guy smirk.

In July of last year we had an American team visit us. We took them to meet the people going through rehab. At the meeting I invited anyone to give a brief testimony about what was happening in their lives, to the American team. I was surprised when Sasha got up and began to speak. He told how as a teen his father had tried to kill him by hitting him in the head with an axe! Sasha still carries the scars from that attack. He has a large dent in the right side of his head, a smaller dent in the left side and small scars all over his head. He believes that God saved his life in that attack. His neck is also deeply scarred because his father also tried to slit his throat. He told about living on the street for years and finally coming to the rehab center and finding a home. He said that coming to the center saved his life. During his testimony he began to weep loudly. It was a powerful moment, and we could see the Holy Spirit touch him.

From that day forward we watched him really begin to grow spiritually week by week. Over the Christmas holidays I was speaking with Sasha and asking him how he was. He causally said, "my sister died this week, she was the last person in my family, I am the only one now living." I was shocked and saddened. What can you say? He had just lost the only living relative that he had. She was an addict and had died from a drug overdose. Sasha said, "I was afraid I would be angry, and turn away from the Lord, but I realized that He could use this in my life if I would allow it. I decided to not be bitter and angry but rather to continue to follow the Lord and ask Him to change me and help me to follow Him." Wow, that is maturity. This young man was making some solid decisions to be a disciple despite the loss in his life. I was so proud of him at that moment.

Shasha has a desire to continue to follow Christ and grow in his Christian life. he desires to serve people and be in ministry. Before the teaching tonight we sat for about ten minutes as I tried to answer his questions. He was talking about growing in Christ, and how do you know if you are filled with the Holy Spirit. He just had this huge smile on his face the whole time we talked. This week he became an assisting leader at the homeless shelter. He is responsible to help oversee things, help others in their walk and tonight he led the opening of the meeting before I taught. He has a real servant's heart and he loves people.

After the meeting we spoke again for a few minutes. I am encouraging Sasha to continue serving people, and to study the Word of God and to not be afraid to begin teaching. I told him that my desire for him was to grow in his leadership gifts and to dream of taking a team and starting a church in another city in a couple of years.

I love what we do here. Every week these guys tell us how wonderful we are to come and teach them. They treat us as if we are some super-people from America. I try and tell them what a privilege it is for us that we can call them our friends. We get so much from them! We are better people because of them! When Jesus tells us to open our eyes and see the ripe harvest He is telling us to see the Sashas of the world, the broken and destroyed people, the people without hope, the addicted, the poor, the helpless. These are our brothers and sisters. They are the harvest that so often the church misses. They are the future of the church. What a blessing it is for us to be here working alongside these brothers and sisters and having them call us their friends.

1 comment:

Shah said...

Hey Michael, what a great and moving story. I can see why they consider you to be some "super people" from America. How are Sasha's wounds healing? How's he copping with his old habits. Isn't fascinating that people who have the least are often among the most grateful people on this earth. Thank you for the great work you're doing. By the way, how did you get all your posts on the Facebook in that format?