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Editor’s Note: The testimony and images below were provided by an SGA-supported pastor in Russia.

In an SGA-supported Crisis Center Ministry in Volgodonsk, Russia, women receive help while dealing with a variety of difficult situations. The work being done in this ministry is helping women to overcome challenges they face due to poverty, abuse and other obstacles.

You will read about a team effort in the story below, and how walking side by side through very difficult situations resulted in great reward. Sometimes, all it takes is for someone to come alongside of you to help you walk the difficult road.  The burden might be too heavy to carry alone, but together there is victory through God’s grace. 

Please continue to pray for the many moms who are going at it alone.  Whether pregnant and scared of what lies ahead, or an already exhausted single mom, the need is great to come alongside of them in Christ’s love, and to carry a bit of their load, and to point them to Jesus our Savior and strength.

“Volgodonsk Pregnancy Center (hereinafter called the Crisis Center) for pregnant women and women with children has been operating since 2019. This is a place where local women and those coming from other places, or who find themselves in a difficult life situation, can receive comprehensive support. A difficult life situation is defined as a situation that objectively disrupts a woman’s life due to poverty, conflicts, and domestic abuse, violation of her legal rights and interests, and lack of housing—i.e. a situation that she is not able to overcome on her own. The women who fall into this category are mostly pregnant women or single mothers raising minor children. Some of the mothers who come are in fact those we ministered to as orphans and now have “graduated” from the orphanage.

When does earthly life begins? Neither with the first word, nor with the first smile . . . but with a baby’s first breath and touch of a mother. For a baby, the mother represents a whole world; she is a universe, especially in the first months of their life. Her well-being, calmness, and safety is a comfortable environment for development of a baby’s personality. In contrast, a mother who experiences daily stress from violence, abuse, disorder, and loneliness cannot create a comfortable and safe world where all the needs of a child are met. The task of our Crisis Center is to create the necessary conditions in which both mother and baby feel safe and receive possibly everything they need. However, qualitative changes in life depend not only on the external environment, but also on the value system of each individual. Therefore we hold Bible studies in the Center with all residents twice a week. We also provide biblical counseling for the women, as well as Sunday school classes for the children and their mothers.

We also deal with the worldview of women under our care, carefully nurturing each of them to be caring, empathic mothers, who are ready to address and meet the needs of their babies. We also want them to be mothers who do not forget about their own personal growth and development. Our goal is to help every woman strengthen her role, find herself in the surrounding society, and grow into a spiritually content woman rooted in God’s Word and grace.  

Many women whom we hosted at our Crisis Center have gone through a difficult path. We would like to share one of those stories. In the summer of 2020, a woman contacted our Crisis Center to report about her pregnant friend who needed help. We agreed to meet, not being aware of just how complex and lengthy the process is of restoring the social and legal status of a young woman, and her long-term psychological rehabilitation was waiting ahead.

Irina, 31, was seven months pregnant with her third child. The two older children were no longer alive. Their deaths were the result of adults’ failed oversight. After those tragic events, Irina attempted to commit suicide. The father of her third child, having learned about Irina’s pregnancy, broke up with her. The situation was nearing a deadlock because of Irina’s illegal status in our country. She came to Russia with her mother at the age of 12. Irina’s mother received a temporary residence permit but did not take care of her daughter’s paperwork. They settled in a small village in the Rostov region. The girl did not attend school, working in the fields instead. Later, she moved to Volgodonsk, found a low-paid job without an official contract, working as a cleaner and as a dishwasher in a cafe. Her earnings were enough to rent a room, but the girl was often starving. For some while, Irina managed to hide her pregnancy, but soon the employer found out about her situation and immediately kicked her out, in order to safeguard himself from unwanted problems. Irina could no longer rent a room and had no means of subsistence, but she also could not return to her mother, who by that time was a half-blind, alcoholic woman, and was surviving on handouts from her neighbors. Irina was depressed, confused, and did not understand how she should carry on with her life. At that moment, our Crisis Center became her only resort.

It has been a long road for Irina and us too, starting with court sittings to at least be able let her stay in our country while waiting for a residence permit. It was a road of transforming an illiterate young woman who could not even write her own name correctly, into a young mother who was able to independently fill out the papers for herself and for her child. It was a road of growing a broken, frightened, and desperate person, into a self-confident young woman who acquired a profession and was able to provide for herself, her child and her elderly mother.

When Irina’s son was born, she started a journey of restoring relations with her mother, with the support of counselors from the Crisis Center. Seeing that her daughter’s hopeless situation was changing for the better, and holding her tiny grandson in her arms, Irina’s mother, named Valentina, stopped abusing alcohol. She began to help her daughter in everything she could. However, it was not that easy, as the elderly woman had cataracts in both eyes, and she could barely see anything. Then we stepped in helping the old woman get medical care. Valentina underwent several operations to remove cataracts, and the staff of our Crisis Center accompanied her through all the stages of the complex process. It took a lot of work to get the woman citizenship in the Russian Federation. Now Valentina is an active and happy grandmother, supporting her daughter and taking care of her grandson.

It has been only three years, but what a gap was bridged—from a meaningless and miserable existence to a full and joyful life! We still have work to do, because Irina and her son do not have citizenship yet, and Valentina still does not receive her pension. However, the hardest part is done. 

As of today, Irina visits the church in Volgodonsk, but not yet on a regular basis. However, her life, according to the Center workers, has changed for the better: Irina demonstrates the fear of God in her life, her life is very stable now, she takes good care of her child e.t.c. but she has not yet made the main step yet for true repentance. The Center workers continue to fellowship and witness to her. Please pray for the repentance of both Irina and Valentina!

This case served as a lesson for us and our care-receivers that there are no hopeless situations, and that there is a lot we can do together! Praise God!!”

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