Gary and Pam Amstutz have been living in Chita, Russia for several years, helping orphans in a variety of ways. You can read more about their ministry here, and you can see a video of their work at the end of this post.
A young Russian lady named Lucya is working with them. I thought you might like to read her story:
I was born in poor family. My mama was an orphan. Before I was one year old my dad asked my mama to get married but a day before the wedding he died. Then my mama started drinking. Before I was born my mama was with other men and had two other children. She gave them away to the orphanage because she didn’t know how to take care of children.
When I was born my brother came back from the orphanage to help my mama, he was 11 or 12 years old. My sister didn’t want to come back to mama so she stayed in the orphanage. This is why I didn’t know my sister very well.”
When I was 5 years old, I worked with my brother on the street. We would go and find glass beer bottles and get 5 rubles for them. Also we would go into the woods in the summer and gather berries and mushrooms and sell them in the market. We were a poor family because my mama sold all our stuff to buy alcohol. We slept on our coats on the floor because we didn’t have any beds.
When I went to school at 7 years, I tried to study very hard. Also I tried to be happy so that no one would think that I was poor.
When I was 9 years old my school teacher invited all my class of 30 students to church. This was really amazing for me. The first thing that I saw was that all the people there were happy and I thought that they had no problems in their life. When I was in church I started to know about God and that I can pray for my mama. And when I was 13 I was the leader of Sunday school in my church. And I also worked in a factory with my mama and studied in school.
My mama asked me about why I was happy every Sunday. I told her because I go to church every Sunday. She told me that she wanted to go to church with me. I thought that it was not good idea because I was ashamed of her.
My pastor came to our home to see her, and he prayed for her. And she invited God in her heart. When she first time came to church all people could not believe that she was my mama. But my mama was very changed. It was God. In the next month my mama stopped drinking. She started to be leader of home group for alcoholics.
Not long after she suddenly became sick and was paralyzed in her whole body. When we called to doctor he came and said that he would not help us because we were poor. We started to pray to God and the next day my mama stood up and went to clinic. And doctor would not believe her. When she was sick I asked God to give her back for one day to tell her that I love her. She gave her testimony in church and she told us that she saw God when she was sick. Next day she started to be worse and she went to hospital. The doctor said that we needed to buy some medicine but we did not have money for it.
I went to the woods to pick berries and mushrooms to sell. Then I came back and went to my friend who would buy them for a good price. When I was there my brother called and said he could not find mama in the hospital and the doctor said she had died. I could not believe it. I told him not to worry and that she would be back. We went to the morgue and saw her body, but still I was in shock and couldn’t believe that it was her. I was happy because I thought she would be back. Everyone in church prayed for me because they thought that I was not okay, not normal.
After two weeks I began to feel that she would not be back. And I was depressed and crying and could not see friends at church or her clothes without crying. We gave away everything in our apartment that was hers or put it on the street with the garbage. All things were old and dirty and everywhere were cockroaches and other bugs. I was 15.
Can you imagine then I was alone with my brother. I studied in school and did not have a job or money. And one day I stood in the middle of the room and prayed to God. I said to Him that in the Bible it says to all who believe and ask Jesus in their heart that He promises to them life without needs. I couldn’t understand why He did not take care of me and my family because I already had Jesus in my heart.
I promised to God that I would serve all my life for poor people and orphans like I was if I would have life without needs. I made first step and found an orphanage close to my home. I started to visit children every day and started to be friends with them.
Every day God kept His promise. On the second day neighbors came and gave us furniture for apartment. They bought new furniture and gave us the old, but it was new for us. And government came and said they wanted to do repairs in our apartment for free. Our lives started to change so fast.
When I was 18 I finished at my school and I was the worst student of everyone in English classes. My teacher told me that I would never speak English! I think she would fall down if she saw me now.
I went to the university and it was a miracle that I passed the exams to be able to study there. Only 2 people out of my class of 30 people went to the university. I studied there for 5 years and graduated with diploma for geological engineering. Since then I have also completed a second diploma with honors to be social worker.
Gary and Pam write: Lucya has become the primary core team member that we have here in Chita. She has experienced what it means to be an orphan, has worked in an orphanage, and was the sole counselor in a home for girls for five years in St. Petersburg. Every great team is built with great team members and she is a great one to build around. Thank you for praying for Lucya and the Russian team that she is assembling around herself. Thank you!