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With God, even the voice of one man counts / Interview with I. Zharko

I wore a cross. I was sure that all believers are Orthodox.

One day this guy was a big cross on me and asked, “Do you worship icons? How about photos?...” Thus our interesting conversation broke out, and gradually I began understanding more.

In 2003, this classmate invited me to a Christian camp for the deaf, organized by one of the Sumy ECB church (coordinator Deema Balayev). I liked everything in the camp: games, sermons, skits… After the camp, it turned out that, out of 70 children and teenagers, I was the only one to receive Jesus... I was 14 then.

Then back to the specialized school. Since I was not from Sumy but from the region, I was not allowed to go to the city on Sundays, as others did. So for the whole year, up till the school end, I had never been to church.

-  Never been to church after receiving Jesus? How did you manage to keep your faith?

- I don’t know. I loved reading the Bible. I read it every day. I didn’t understand everything, but even what I understood brought great joy to me. I also prayed then…

- Only 5 years ago a deaf teenager received Christ in the camp, was separated from Christian communication for a year, and today he is already on the 2nd year at the Seminary. What happened?

- After school, brother and I went to one Kiev technical school to learn plastering and tiling. We remained to live and work in Kiev. In 2005, we got baptized. We have many Christian friends in ECB churches: central Baptist, Svyatoshin church, “Transfiguration.” I knew of a seminary in Irpen which was training signers. A deaf brother Oleg Levkovets studied at pastoral faculty here. Last year our IBS signers invited me to attend their graduation. I liked the seminary, and when they invited me to study in it, I sent my application.

- Is it hard to study? {mosimage}

- It is interesting. I am in a good group and many of my classmates know the sign language, since some of them have graduated from the sign language course. I would like to thank the seminary for giving me a good signer for lecture periods – Leah Bondarenko! Sign language is not easy, one needs time and talent to learn it at such level which would allow one interpret lectures. Besides, no one in the group would have been able to simultaneously study and translate for me. So I thank God and the leadership for such great care about me. I know this doesn’t come easily, but the lessons I am getting here are very useful in my ministry.

- What do you want to do after seminary?

- I want to serve. For now, I am not yet sure how.

- You are still young, you will know. But it is interesting how God is preparing you: you are deaf, yet your mentality is that of a hearing person, and you articulate wonderfully. At the same time, the deaf take you for a like of theirs. Thus you are a go-between in two worlds!

{mosimage}- Yes, mainly the “go-between” and between “worlds”! Such a coincidence that I have is a rare occasion.

The deaf live in a special world, different from that of those who can hear. The deaf need to be taught to understand, their life isn’t easy. But their hearts are very sensitive and open for God! Many of them, due to hearing problems, have not been able to receive initial education which would enable them to study further. Thus the deaf need to study.

- Which of the “worlds” do you love better?

- I love the deaf!

– Blessings to you, brother Vanya, and achievements to the glory of God!

Special thanks for help and interview to signer Leah Bondarenko

Interview by Olga Dorofeyeva

Picture by author

Published on 04.28.2009
Translated by Anna Sedova

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