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Heroes: Lives That Inspire - Alex Krutov
The Grammy’s, this past February, started out with a tribute to Whitney Houston. LL Cool J spoke of the Grammy family losing someone who inspired so many. It certainly was a tragedy that Whitney Houston lost her life; not because she had a great voice, but because it was a life that apparently ended in turmoil. Whitney’s story is one that has played over and over throughout time: fame and money do not bring happiness, and accolades of many do not bring peace.
There may be those who inspire us for a moment as they put on display the gifts they have been endowed with, but there are also those who inspire us by the lives they live. I first learned of such a life while on a mission trip to Russia. Since then I have followed him on Facebook, and recently I read the inspiring story of his life in his book, Infinitely More.
Imagine starting out your existence, on a cold winter’s day in St. Petersburg Russia, by being tossed in the dumpster as your mother left the hospital after giving birth. Such was the plight of Alex Krutov. Alex’s early years were wrought with malnutrition, developmental delays, and a variety of medical issues requiring multiple hospitalizations. Alex had a difficult life living in inadequate orphanages. He was bullied, beaten, endured a failed adoption, and lived on the streets; these are just some examples of what Alex had to endure over the years.
A 2010 New York Times article states there are approximately 700,000 orphans in Russia. Each year over ten thousand orphans age out of the orphanages, and with no place to call home they get involved in gangs, prostitution, theft, and do whatever they can to survive on the streets. According to International Adoption Guide, 21% of Russian children who age out of orphanages are dead before they reach age 21. What then made a difference for Alex? He had every reason to become like the other orphans and fall into the trap of alcohol, drugs, and stealing. As Alex states in his book, “Whether it was out of pride, stubbornness, or God’s hand of protection on me, I don’t know, but I refused to be bullied into drinking or smoking or swearing. I never followed the crowd…to steal bread.”
At the age of 16, through the influence of American missionaries, Alex put his faith in Christ. Alex admits this didn’t make his life better at the orphanage; in fact, he states his circumstances got worse. There were times his faith faltered, but God had his hand on Alex’s life. God brought Alex on an amazing journey that transformed his life. He became the co-founder of, The Harbor, whose vision is: “To restore thousands of lives branded as hopeless, to their God-given potential thus breaking the cycle of poverty and abandonment among Russia’s 10 million children at risk and turning them into productive citizens.” Alex now spends his time between Russia and the United States raising funds for The Harbor.
I believe our culture has it backwards: the attention we give to the rich and famous is misplaced; many of the heroes we set before our children are unmerited; and those living humble lives in service to others are often overlooked. Look around and you can find many ordinary people who are living extraordinary lives. Take a moment to thank them, share their story, and hold them up to your children and grandchildren as heroes.
The Harbor: St. Petersburg, Russia
“I had always assumed that heroism was reserved for the very few, but I no longer believe that to be true. I have come to believe that heroism is clearly attainable to each of us–that all we have to do to become heroes is, with God’s help, to grow into the ideal each of us harbors in our hearts.” –Joe Wheeler, from Everyday Heroes