Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Two Crystal Vases - A Borblick Analogy

Although this short diversion does not directly involve the Borblick children, it is a warm example of how Lena trusts and depends upon the Lord she loves. It is also an analogy as to how God can take something damaged, ruined beyond use, and replace it with something brand new; similar to how damaged orphans (or any person for that matter) can be changed from an “old (or ruined) man” into a “new (restored) man” through God’s wonderful grace and mercy.

Lena had been given two crystal vases. Normally, Lena would not give much value to worldly things, but these two vases were special mementos. The first had been given to her by her father. The second had good memories of when her children were young.

The second vase was broken when Lena put lilac flowers into it. In Ukraine, it is known that hot water will make these blooms last longer. Lena had already put a small amount of cold water into the vase, but when she poured in the very hot water, the vase shattered. She was very sad about that, but she still had the other crystal vase which was her father’s gift. Vase #2 gone!

That vase was stored in the room where Yuri (the second orphan boy) was living. At night, he began to use this vase as a urinal. It began to smell terrible. One day, Sergey took the vase and smashed it because he felt it was beyond rescuing. Lena tried to argue with him but he would not listen. Vase #1 gone!

Several days later, an acquaintance of Lena’s came by their home. She brought with her a vase, identical to the one destroyed by the hot water. She explained to Lena that she did not understand why she had bought this vase because she did not need it. So, she offered to give it to Lena. Vase #2 restored!

A few days later, Lena’s mother also was out shopping and found a duplicate of the vase her father had given her years before. Because her mother recognized the vase, she bought it and gave it to Lena also. Vase #1 restored!

Lena says that this was God’s joke to her, because it is an example of how God works with us. The children Lena brings into their home are often like one of these vases, damaged, broken, smashed. But through God’s love, they are able to be restored.

Yuri, One Who Could Not Change (no photo available)

Imagine you are 14 (Prohor, the natural son) and realize that your parents are good godly people who want to give another young person, not as blessed by God as yourself, a chance for a good home and a successful life. You have accepted this fact and even enjoy having a brother (Sergey) to spend time with. Now they have decided to do it again! When will it be enough, for heaven’s sake?

Yuri was not a blessed child. He was born of a mother who had six children by several different fathers. Obviously, she did not provide Yuri with the type of family and upbringing that would give him a stable home life. As a result, Yuri would leave home from time to time and live on the streets. At the age of 9, his mother, at age 56, took him to the local orphanage and told them that she could not discipline him. This is a common story in Ukraine and they willingly took him. He never knew his father. Yuri eventually found his way back to the streets.

But he wasn’t as lucky or as smart as Sergey and was picked up by the police and placed in an Isolator. The Isolator is used to temporarily “house” street children to determine if they have any infectious diseases or if they have extreme behavior problems. Life in the Isolator is very difficult. The kids are treated for lice and other organisms, given very little to do and are angry and frustrated due to their imprisonment. Fights break out, discipline is tough and the staff is harsh, out of necessity. After two weeks in the Isolator, the children are placed in various local orphanages based upon age and other special needs.

The Borblicks were not planning on taking any additional children at this point in time because it had not yet been a year and they were still adjusting to Sergey and his extensive needs. But the orphanage director had a different plan. It was the end of the year and the staff of the government orphanage wanted its end-of-year reports to look good. They had one problem child left and it was Yuri. Yuri had been brought into the Isolator because he had been caught stealing, so it was a matter of getting his documents in order for the court and then on to prison. But the staff, in the Isolator, was unusually concerned for Yuri because he was a handsome boy and they were certain he would be subjected to sexual abuse if he was placed in a prison facility. So, in the interest of having their reports look good, getting Yuri off their hands and not sending him directly to prison, they concocted guardianship documents for Lena and Sergey Borblick. They then called Lena to congratulate her on her new addition to her family and asked when she would like to come and pick him up.

Lena actually did not have a problem taking Yuri, but she explained to the orphanage director that her husband did not have a permanent job and the law would not allow them to have another child. The director said, “Oh, don’t worry about that.” And thus Yuri became their next foster child. This was an important lesson for Lena. She learned from this experience that even government rules can be changed, if it is in the best interest of the people who have the power to change them.

From the beginning, Lena felt a huge evil presence in Yuri. She prayed to God for love and acceptance towards this boy, regardless of these feelings. God gave her the love and care for Yuri. But Yuri was not sincere or honest with her and began to steal food from the kitchen just because he wanted to take something, not because he was hungry. As they did with Sergey, they took him to church and he began to learn from the Bible that such behavior was not acceptable to God and others. Unfortunately, this behavior did not change. Lena could tell when Yuri was responding rightly to her love and care for him. When he was honest and not hiding anything from her, he would stop wetting the bed at night. But as soon as there was some sin or secret behavior, the bed would once again be wet. Lena’s understanding of God’s spiritual law of authority, for her as a parent, is this: once she has legal authority over the child, God gives her the spiritual authority to bind, break and prohibit the sin that binds him or her. But there is also one condition: the child must want this change and must be sincere and honest in dealing with her and with God.

With the help of the family, Yuri got a good education and graduated from technical school. He got a good job at the local steel mill with Lena’s help. When he was 18, with a profession and a good paying job, Lena and Sergey asked him to leave their home and move into the dormitory provided by his employer. Lena probably never would have selected this boy from the orphanage because of the negative, evil feelings she felt when near him. Lena had a premonition that he would do something terrible, like commit murder. Yet, even with this fear, she allowed him to live with her family for 3 years and prayed continually for him.

For these reasons, Lena and Sergey had finally asked him to leave. When he left, he did not take all of the things he had packed in one trip. Two duffel bags remained. The other children, being curious, got into these bags and found items belonging to the family. Lena saw that even though she loved Yuri and tried giving him what he would need to change his evil behavior, it was not enough. Yuri would not make the choice to change his life. Eventually, he did kill a woman and is now serving time in prison. Yuri had a dark side that was unable to be changed even with the love of a family and the presence of God. Lena and Sergey continue to pray for Yuri and hope that one day he will make a choice for God and his life will be changed forever. Lena has one other understanding of her spiritual authority from God: as soon as a child says I am big enough and I can live my own life, her spiritual authority over that child is over.

Prohor, Natural Born Son

What would it be like to be praying for a brother (or even a sister) to come into your family and then finding out your prayers were being answered but it isn't a baby? He is 14, just like you? This is the situation that confronted Prohor, the natural son of Lena and Sergey. Fortunately for the parents and for the son, there was instant love and affection between the two boys.

Prohor had grown up with parents who became believers when he was still a small child, so he learned to experience miracles, as his mother had, in his early life. As a young boy, Prohor was very active and successful in sports. He became interested in oriental boxing. Lena and Sergey were not happy about this interest and knew it was not acceptable to the church because it involved violence and meditation, ie. Eastern religion. So, they told Prohor that they did not approve of this sport. But they had no alternatives to propose to him. They asked the pastor of the church to talk with him. The pastor did speak with the boy and advised the parents to NOT prohibit him from participating in this sport, but to pray for him and for God to show him another way.

Because of his success in this sport, he was invited to Hungary for a competition. Simultaneously, Prohor began to have a serious liver ailment. He had been jaundiced at birth, so there was some predisposition to this very serious problem. Lena took him to a specialist for ultra sound and analysis. The diagnosis was horrendous and very serious. The doctor knew about a particular treatment for this illness but regretted that it was very expensive. He advised that this treatment would take 2 years to work and that they should then come back to him after this period of time. Of course, they could not afford this expensive treatment so the next step was to see their regular pediatrician for other treatment options. This doctor was in shock when she saw the results from the analysis and diagnosis. She wanted to give Lena both a modern treatment and an old wives healing alternative. She began to dictate this remedy (the old wives option) to Lena but Lena began to realize that she already knew another treatment and told this to the doctor. Lena was not specific with the doctor as to this treatment, but she had decided she needed to pray.

Several days later when Prohor was having a particularly bad attack, Lena asked him if he believed in God and that God could heal him. Prohor said yes to both questions and began to sincerely pray that God would heal him. During his prayer, he felt that something had left him as a vapor up to heaven. Lena believes that on that day he was completely healed.

Lena and Sergey now were willing to let him go to the competition in Hungary. But, they would need the doctor’s release in order to have that happen. They went back to the specialist who had given them the diagnosis. They told him what had happened. Immediately, he asked if they had used the expensive remedy that he had previously suggested. But it had only been a couple of weeks, so even the doctor was questioning how this could possibly be true. Lena insisted that Prohor was no longer ill. So the doctor had him lie on the table and proceeded to do another ultra sound. In the process, he stopped in astonishment and began talking to himself, questioning whether this was the same boy or what could have possibly happened in such a short time.

Lena said that they had been praying. The doctor then said, “Of course, you should have told me this in the beginning." He had no problems with the fact that this boy could have been healed through prayer and readily gave the release papers to Lena.

Now they needed a second release from the pediatrician. This doctor, of course, was also astonished. But when Lena said that she had used her own medical treatment – prayer – she wanted Lena to dictate to her the exact words that she had used. She obviously did not understand how prayer works. But, she also gave the release papers to Lena.

Prohor did go to Hungary for the competition. However, while there, he saw how corrupt and unjust the system of judging and organization actually was. As a result, he, by his own choice, decided to quit. Lena and Sergey were not really surprised by his decision since they had taken the Pastor’s advice and could see God’s hand in this whole matter.

(There will be more about Prohor in subsequent chapters of The Borblick Story).

Sergey, First Orphan Son

What would it be like to be 14 years old and already know that you are a loser? The people who were supposed to love you and take care of you, Mom and Dad, didn’t and couldn’t. Although in this case the mom was well educated, she rejected her own family and married a man who was continually in trouble with the law. Their life together was a misery for both of them. He, after several attempts, hung himself. She out of guilt and grief became an alcoholic and eventually died. Their child became a victim of the street. Of course, this can happen to children anywhere in the world, even in affluent countries like America. But what happens to a child who is not in a country that can provide adequate social services for it’s poor and hungry? What happens to a child who has become an orphan simply because his parents were too selfish and self-centered to recognize their responsibility toward him and who had no one else who cared?

Young Sergey was one of the “unwanteds” of the world and the first young orphan boy that the Lena and husband Sergey decided to take into their family. They already had one son, Prohor (more about him in the next post), who was about the same age as Sergey. Once they determined he should be their son, Lena boldly went to the orphanage to ask permission to become his guardian. This was not a normal action for Ukrainians, even Christian Ukrainians, at this time. It was 6 years, 2004, before the government would establish a nation-wide program encouraging families and providing financial support for those who were willing to take orphans into their homes. A similar program was established for those wanting to adopt Ukrainian orphans. Lena and Sergey’s actions were prompted only from their devotion to God to do what His Word was commanding them to do, “Take care of widows and orphans.” (James 1:27)

Sergey had only been in the orphanage a few weeks, but already he had found a friend who was a model of good behavior and did well in school. Sergey, on the other hand, was and did the opposite. Sergey was sitting with his new friend when Lena came to talk with him. He thought, naturally, that she was interested in talking with his friend, not him. You see, Sergey had already determined that he was unworthy of an adult stranger’s time and conversation. He expected all adults to treat him badly. He did not expect to be called by name and when she explained that she wanted to take him home he did not believe her. He simply could not comprehend that it was true and that someone actually wanted him. She had to explain the situation to him several times before he understood.

Within a few days, the orphanage staff prepared the necessary papers and Lena and Sergey (father) became his guardians. He had an instant friendship with their one and only natural son, Prohor. But there were problems. Sergey began to reveal his secrets to them. First he confessed that he smoked and had for several years. He was addicted to nicotine and continued to smoke secretly, in the Borblick’s home, when he could. But that was not all. He was also addicted to alcohol and had a capacity to drink a great deal. He spent time every day thinking about how he would be able to get alcohol. But that was not all. Sergey had also, at his young age of 14, been introduced to sex and he liked that too. Lena and Sergey anticipated that bringing this boy into their family was going to be challenging. Now they were beginning to see the scope of that challenge.

Eventually, they also learned why Sergey had ended up in the orphanage. His parents were still living, but he was not living with them as their child. His father had left the family before he was even born, eventually committing suicide. His mother tried valiantly to raise him on her own, but she eventually turned to drugs and alcohol (she also died very young) and he was left to fend for himself. So, he made his life on the streets. He and his “street” friends made a practice of stealing and used the money they accumulated to purchase narcotics. He was also on the road to becoming addicted to drugs as well. His friends had been caught in the latest escapade, but miraculously, Sergey had escaped. In order to avoid getting turned in by his “buddies” and going to jail along with them, he went to the local orphanage and asked them to take him in. They willingly did this. Sergey already figured out that if he was in the orphanage, the staff would not want any bad publicity reflecting on them. So the chance of them turning him over to the police was very slim. Handing himself over to the orphanage was an escape for Sergey but not because he hoped to find reform there. In fact, he hoped to escape from there eventually too.

Lena and Sergey (father), after realizing who and what they had invited into their home, began to find ways to help him. They took him to church and the church members came alongside to encourage them and befriend Sergey. They began praying with him and for him as part of their family. In just a few years time, Sergey was able to finish the 9th form (equivalent to junior year of high school) at school, graduate, and enroll in the very prestigious Navy Lyceum. This school is very difficult to enter and has a very tough entrance examination. But, somehow, with the support and hope of a loving family, Sergey was successful. Through this education, he was able to graduate as a professional sailor and secure a job on a merchant ship.

Unfortunately, this was also Sergey’s spiritual decline. He began to make good money and take care of himself independently. He stopped going to church and became independent of his new parents and the government. Now, he has no close relationship with the family and is often out to sea for 6 months at a time. Lena and Sergey (father) are grieved about this. Although Sergey (son) was accepted by the family, the church, and even the youth group in the church, it was hard for him to refuse the lure of the world (no different, really, from some Christian teens in America). And, at least for now, Lena and Sergey are happy that he is not homeless, not in prison and not jobless. These would all have been Sergey’s future if the Borblicks had not been led by God to help this young boy. They feel that one day he will return to them and to his faith in God.