“Chreeza, Chreeza!  Photo, photo!” was Viktor’s mantra the entire time The Haven was at the Azov Sea.  After three days, my patience was wearing thin

I’d taken at least one hundred photos of him already so, when he’d ask, I started getting creative.  I’d pretend my camera was broken, I didn’t understand him, or I hadn’t heard him.  Of course I always gave in eventually, but I wanted him to work for it.

Later that day I realized how needlessly cruel I was behaving.  I’ve always had a problem with “teaching people lessons” if their faults are obvious.  It’s like road rage only much more passive-aggressive.  On some level, that’s exactly what I was doing to Viktor.

It’s something a lot of us do to “problem children”.  After all, it makes sense.  If they act inconsiderately towards us, and we respond in turn, they’ll see the error of their ways.  Right?

This is Orphanage #4, the closest thing to a home Viktor knew before The Haven.

Unfortunately, no.  According to renowned child psychologist and neuroscientist Bruce Perry in his fascinating book The Boy Who Was Raised As a Dog, “We tend to see children who are whiny and demanding and aggressive as spoiled and indulged, rather than recognizing that these qualities usually arise from unmet needs and unexplored potential, not from having too much or feeling too good.  In order for a child to become kind, giving, and empathetic, he needs to be treated that way.”

My mistreatment of Viktor lasted less than eight hours, but I still felt terrible. I was unsure as to how I could make amends so I did the only thing I could think of.  I set out to be infinitely patient, kind, and caring toward him for the last day and a half of the trip.

Victor is one of the most frustrating and inspiring people I’ve met here.

The next day Viktor came up to me and, with the help of a translator, explained that he wanted to tell me his life story.  I was stunned but eagerly agreed.

As the story began to unfold, a transformation took place.  Viktor changed from a thorn in my side into a confused and frightened child who had been terribly abused.  His body language was reminiscent of a toddler.  He was sitting with legs clutched to his chest, in the fetal position, and was unconsciously bringing his thumb to his mouth every time he paused for the translator to fill me in.

Suddenly the need for attention, the behavior issues, and even the story about how he had beaten another kid with a pipe made a lot more sense.  He wasn’t doing these things because he was spoiled, he was doing them because he was deprived

He wasn’t a monster-child enjoying violence… it’s just all he knows.  He was beaten his whole life, hit with fists, shoes, and night sticks by teachers, principals, and even police.  So it wasn’t anything new when he returned the favor to that other kid. 

Viktor has a family now, one that is committed to growing with him for years to come.

And I remembered the countless conversations about kids being beaten.  Liz Millikan, of Last Bell Ministries, told me a story where a little girl looked her in the eye and asked whether it was Liz’s father or Liz’s mother that had beaten her.  Liz said neither of them did.  The little girl got a very confused look on her face and asked, “Well…then who beat you?” When Liz said no one had ever beaten her, the little girl just stood stunned and said, “I didn’t know there were families like that.”

As Viktor continued his tale, he shared with me his biggest dream, to meet his parents and ask them why they didn’t want him.  He says that he knows this is impossible.  He isn’t even sure they’re alive, but that it is what he wants most in the world. 

And we all need dreams.

Viktor told me he knows he isn’t an easy kid to deal with but he doesn’t know how to change that.  He explained how he had given up drinking and wanted to stop smoking as well.  But it’s hard to fight against what you’ve been surrounded by. 

Viktor proudly informed me that The Haven has become his family.  A family helping him deal with his problems in a healthy way, encouraging him to be free of his addictions, and accepting him time and time again.  Viktor is still confused, frightened, and makes mistakes but he has hope now. He is not alone.  Viktor may never know why his parents didn’t want him, but he surely knows that his new family does.

With the help of this new family, Viktor will find the courage to let go of both the beast and the baby, growing instead into the man he was meant to be.

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Next Steps
    • You can help by financially supporting The Shelter & The Haven through online donations to Last Bell Ministries HERE. They could really use some consistent monthly sponsors right now.
    • You can pray for the ministry that The Shelter & The Haven are engaged in.
    • Consider becoming personally involved by committing to praying specifically for one of the individual at-risk teens, maybe even Viktor. More info on that HERE.
    Next Steps

About the Author: Christopher N. Cambell was a summer intern with World Next Door in 2010. He is a graduate of the Moody Bible Institute and an avid reader. He has an endless appetite for stories both true and otherwise and loves using those to better know and understand people.

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Comments

  1. RC Jones said... 

    Reply

    July 26th, 2010 at 7:41 am  

    I really enjoyed this post Chris. Thank you for your honesty and transparency in stories like this one about Viktor. God is working through you and it’s a beautiful thing to read about. -RC

  2. Jonathan Pomazon said... 

    Reply

    July 26th, 2010 at 10:19 am  

    Great story, Chris – this serves as a powerful reminder of why the work at Last Bell is so critically needed. I think you’ve given voice to all the Viktors who come to this ministry seeking wholeness out of their shattered backgrounds. Thanks.

  3. Jim.M said... 

    Reply

    July 27th, 2010 at 8:54 pm  

    “With the help of this new family, Viktor will find the courage to let go of both the beast and the baby, growing instead into the man he was meant to be…..”

    I would like to substitute “place”, or “a home” for the word “courage” in the closing line of this story.

    Chris, very nice story, as I read it for the second and third time I began to look at the world in this story through Viktor’s eyes.

    Looking beyond all of the unruly, annoying behaviors he might have, and his troubled past,…perhaps he has been the patient one, living the only way he has been shown, waiting for relief, waiting for answers… to who he is, where he is from, waiting for someone to love him, wanting to be ‘home”.

    Wanting to share this longing with you was an interesting turn in the story. Sometimes the mirror is held up to us by the most unlikely person.

    Thank you for sharing your part in this as openly as you did. We should all be so honest.

    J.

  4. charles said... 

    Reply

    November 28th, 2012 at 5:18 am  

    Hello,
    I’m Charles Edwin from India living in Chennai.I gone through your website I understand how children’s are struggling those life without parents. I would like to teach them how to make money through online trading $10 $30 in day .

    In God’s love,
    Charles.
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