You may remember Anastasia Semyonova, the 15 year old with a tragic background whom I told you about earlier this year. Amongst the many orphans we support there are children like Anastasia who need extra help. Her story was that she came to our feeding centre in Riga, Latvia three years ago in desperate need of food and clothing, as well as to attend Children’s Church classes. She gave her life to Jesus but battled with huge insecurities and is very frail due fine bone fractures caused by the lack of good nutrition. Her mother is a very evil woman and had been in prison for some time. Her grandmother is a very strange old woman who didn’t want Anastasia with her.
We currently pay for Anastasia’s meals in school each week, plus some essentials that she needs. Then she spent time in hospital undergoing treatment. The doctor said that there were so many homeless children in the hospital just like Anastasia, with the same symptoms – depression and horrible headaches due to inflammation of the autonomic nervous system caused by the stress they’ve experienced all their lives. There is no real treatment for them, just temporary relief.
Looking at Anastasia the doctor said: “Please do not leave her. She needs food, but more than that she needs love. There is no better cure for her pains other than just love and care. As a doctor I can bring a medical relief but not a healing. Love her and don’t leave her“. Anastasia is loved by all of our local team. But there are dozens in that hospital that would have no place to go, no one to be loved by. That breaks my heart.
After being released from hospital, she came back to her grandmother to find that she wasn’t welcome. The next day grandmother opened the door, kicked her out, shouted “get out of here” and slammed the door in her face. Anastasia spent the night in the local church where we have our feeding centre for the poor although this is against European Union laws. After long hours of research by my manager, Sasha, we were able to place her in a crisis centre for children like Anastasia for a fee.
Then she found out that within a week 3 of her friends had died from drug overdoses. Fortunately Anastasia does not take drugs.
She was allowed to come to church and be with our team. It was a wonderful time for her. She had bed and food. Yet the decision at the special children’s court was to place her in an orphanage. During her stay in the crisis centre in one of her low points (after losing yet another friend who died from a drug overdose) the social worker gave the children an assignment to write something about their inner thoughts. Anastasia was low in spirits and saddened over the loss of her friend. What she wrote was something like this: “It is a difficult life to live knowing your friends are dying”. This was interpreted as suicidal thoughts by the social worker and they sent Anastasia to a psychiatric hospital for a week. The poor girl had suffered more than enough and now she was suffering even more, having to go through all of the drama with her grand mother rejecting her, her friends dying and now this.
She was released from the psychiatric hospital and came to church again. We encouraged her and fed her well. But several days later she found out that another of her friends had died. She was shaken to core and tried to cut her veins. The social worker rushed her to the hospital and saved her life. Thank God for that. The devil had not taken her life.
Yet another challenge for her faith has arisen. Her mother, who is a drug-addict, is now threatening to kill her. Anastasia is scared. We need people to pray for her constantly. God has a great future for her. She is going to live and not die. Her life is going to be well lived for the glory of God and a great testimony to others.
There are many like Anastasia, who couldn’t cope with leaving an orphanage at 18 years – they are just not prepared for that. I would like to be able to create a centre for lost children and teenagers like her. We’ve done that in Odessa, Ukraine, and I’d like to be able to do that in Latvia. Please stand with us in support of these needy children.
In the photo above you’ll see Anastasia (front right) worshipping and singing with our local team while ministering to the orphans. I am so thrilled to see her working with them and ministering beyond her own needs to the orphans. She has an amazing compassion for the lonely and rejected children having had to gone through all that herself. A great way to have harvests of blessings come back is to sow seeds of blessing and love to others. At 15 years of age she’s learning fast.
Thank you so much for your kindness and compassion towards Anastasia. I saw her over the weekend in the Riga Word of Truth Church where I preached, she is looking good. (In the photo on the left behind the music stand, she is worshipping with the children in the Sunday service).
After all the wrangles that my manager, Sasha, had with the Children’s Court who wanted to send her to a distant orphanage far away from our fellowship and help, the battle was won this week through your prayers. A few days ago we received the news that we’d won the battle to keep her in Riga (close to church, youth meetings and the children’s church). The court has placed her with a newly appointed foster family who are allowing her to keep coming to church. Thank you, Jesus.