The young lady’s Name has been changed to protect her anonymity.
She is 18 years old now. We’ll call her Anya. She was born in Moscow, Russia and orphaned at a very young age. Her grandpa and grandma took care of her, until her grandma died and her grandpa, began drinking to cope with the loss. That’s when Anya was placed in an orphanage. An American couple adopted Anya when she was 7 years old. Just a quick synopsis of Anya’s background.
Anya was 16 when I met her. She came to the treatment center that I was a residential coach at. One of my responsibilities was to help the students with accountibility. My first encounter with Anya was to ask her to roll her shirt sleaves down. The residents had the same shirts and she was trying to establish some individuality through her appearance. One of the reasons to keep shirt sleeves unrolled is that it could be a place to hide contraband or something a student may have picked up that could be used for self-harm. Anya didn’t like that I had told her that.
Several times, to help her cope with the new place, while her roommate was in the shower, we’d sit at the door of her room and visit ( I sat outside the room and she sat in the doorway). I’d ask about Moscow and she’d tell some really happy times with friends and family. Anya and I had a good relationship and she developed trust in me.
At the beginning of the summer of 2008, during one of the spiritual times, I asked the students to write down any questions they might have about the Bible. A lot of good questions. Some very common questions, others were a little more personal. So over the next few months I tried to answer the questions as best as I could. I don’t know if Anya wrote anything that day, but one of the questions struck a chord with her.
Several of the students asked, if God is a good God why do bad things happen? A good question. A common question. Over the next 3 sessions, I attempted to answer the question. With the last session, I told them pain was a good thing. If we didn’t have pain we wouldn’t know we were hurt and wouldn’t care for the injury. It applies physically and emotionally. They all understood. Than I took the students to the book of Job. I read a little from the last few chapters where God talks to Job and Job doesn’t have an answer for God but came away in awe and a greater trust in God. Basically, I told the students that suffering, bad things are allowed to happen so that we will put our trust in God, all the time.
Afterwards, one of the coaches came up to me and told me that Anya had asked the same question the night before and had asked her after Spiritual Time if she had said anything to me. She hadn’t. A moment later, Anya came by and we began to talk. We talked well over an hour. She said, “Jeff, I want to believe in God. But I don’t know if I do.”
Anya related to me how much she missed her youth group and the Bible studies at her church at home. How she had friends in that church that were good and trusted God. She wanted to also.
Anya only had a couple of months until she graduated from the program so we spent time talking about her belief. She came to the point that wanted, she believed and trusted in God. I now pray that she always does.