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I Understand People on the Street

by Jeff Thompson

Igor shares God’s love on the streets in Ukraine.

UKRAINE: Yana Glushko is the Mercy Projects youth ministries director in Kyiv, Ukraine and her husband Igor is a missionary with Teen Challenge and Mercy Projects. I asked them to share their story with us. (Jeff Thompson.)

Igor: “I grew up in a large family of six kids. My late father was a very violent man, a drunkard and a former KGB officer. I don’t know about his relationship with God, I think he had some but it’s up to God to decide. He read the Bible but his life didn’t reflect any godliness. Father caused us many troubles and a lot of pain. While intoxicated he would regularly beat his wife (our mom) and us so severely that I seriously many times offered my mom to kill him to stop the beatings.

“My parents got divorced but father still lived with us. That’s why we, children, spent our time outside. And there, on the streets of Kyiv we found smoking and drugs very soon.

How did you become a Christian?

“Growing up, we pretty much stayed away from the apartment. We were doing bad things out on the street, but our mom was praying! She always made us to come to church with her. I would take my unbelieving friends and we would sit on the last row, eating sunflower seeds and giggling loudly. When the pastor called for people to repent, my mom would turn and look at me with a piercing gaze. I always saw tears in her eyes.

Yana and Igor with their three kids at camp. From L to R: Karolina, Lev, and Rosa.

One time when I was 15, I was very drunk at my friend’s house. My younger brother found me, and said; ‘It’s Sunday and mom wants you to come to church.’ I don’t remember the sermon, and I don’t remember going to the front, but there I was, at the stage, and all my brothers and sisters had followed me. I invited Jesus to be my Savior. And that very second I was stone sober!”

“My brother Sergey is director of Teen Challenge Ukraine, and I love working in their Coffee House ministry. People from the street, addicts and others, come have conversations and support. I also work in the methadone clinics with addicted men who are trying to stop using drugs. Every week we go there and build relationships with guys, counsel them and tell them that there is hope in Christ. At least 1-2 people die there every week! Their wives turn into widows, and their children into orphans… It is terrible. I guess I understand people on the street. I struggled a long time and my brother never gave up on me.”

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