Her family disowned and abused her when she converted to Orthodoxy. But your kindness let her find a new family within the Church.
When Elizaveta stood up to her family’s matriarch and refused to have a Bat Mitzvah because she had converted to Orthodoxy, the family disowned her. She suffered physical and verbal abuse, and was homeless twice. She had been beaten, thrown out of the house, and called “a curse on her family.”
Years have passed since then. But Elizaveta still cries when she talks about it. But fortunately, it gets easier with Christ’s help.
Thirteen years after her conversion, 26 y.o. Elizaveta tries to satisfy her thirst for the Truth. She fills her days with church, teaching Sunday school, and attending as many Orthodox events she can. Because for her, there is no life outside of Orthodoxy.
Part of her goal is to surround herself with people she can trust – Russian Orthodox youth she meets at FFA-sponsored youth events.
“Attending youth conferences is like recharging my battery,” she said. “The Gospel story of the woman with a blood problem who just wanted to touch Christ's garment comes to mind… Simply sitting next to my fellow [Orthodox] brothers and sisters - even this much is enough.”
But at Orthodox youth events there is so much more at offer! We met Elizaveta at the XIIIth All-Diaspora Youth Conference in San Francisco this July.
Thanks to your generosity, she and 150 young people like her from 11 different countries participated in church services, lectures, discussions and workshops. They attended a soup kitchen for the homeless and the needy, and a home for the elderly. The idea of the conference was to unite Orthodox youth around themes of charity and mercy.
Elizaveta now has longtime Orthodox friends she keeps in touch with and visits, as well as role models for building her life around the Church.
“I get to see the clergy and laity live out their lives with fear and trembling; more importantly, I learn to emulate them just like emulating the saints. I could walk up to just about any Orthodox Christian and …these strangers, they treat me like their own. This is my family now.”
When you give to the FFA, you plant a seed that blossoms in young people like Elizaveta. She doesn’t take Church for granted. She pays back – with interest.
What she learns at FFA-sponsored youth conferences, she shares with her Sunday School class, which she has been teaching for over 5 years.
“My tithe to the Church is raising the children, preparing them to take self-motivated responsibility of the faith by picking up the cross and following Christ …no matter the circumstances, no matter how difficult… And to bring the love of our Lord to their neighbors one heart at a time.”
Thank you for caring for the next generation of Russian Orthodox Christians!