Meet Anastasia Kharchenko

Most know that I am a player and fan of tennis, always have been.  When we moved to Peru, I thought that would be one of the sacrifices I would have to make to live here and follow God’s call.  To my surprise, the house and neighborhood God provided for our family almost 7  years ago was across the street from a club with 10 beautiful clay tennis courts and a group of ladies just waiting to befriend me on the courts.  I am still amazed at how God knew me so well and provided in a way that only he could.  God didn’t have to do that, but He did, in His good plan.

My tennis club has recently began opening it’s doors to  professional tournaments, bringing in players from all over the world.  This past week, they held their second ITF professional women’s tournament and I enjoyed joining my tennis friends watching some great matches.  The winner of the last tournament was back to defend her title this time, a Ukrainian girl named Anastasia Kharchenko.  She stood out to me in the last tournament because she was so controlled, calm and focused as she made winning the tournament look so easy.  This past Monday, our paths crossed at the club and she mentioned that she was staying in a hotel across town, alone, no coach or teammates  and she spoke very little Spanish.  My heart went out to her and I quickly forgot that we were tired after having 5 weeks straight of house guest.  She eagerly accepted my offer to reside in our guest room.  And that’s where our friendship began.

Anastasia’s first night in our home, she told us her life story, her Christian testimony and how God has rescued her in so many ways.

“Coming from a poor financial background in Ukraine, Ana rose to the top of Ukraine’s junior tennis scene reaching #1 G18s.  She also reach #5 in Europe in G16s.  Then the sponsorship money ended… actually it was stolen.  She put her rackets in the closet and was ready to on with her young life.  Then a talent scout from the USA found her and brought her to a newly formed tennis academy.  The situation was pretty bad, though.  Ana slept on a bare hardwood floor. There was little food.  One by one all the players left as the academy went bankrupt. Ana was invited to train at another local tennis academy.  She accepted, but the situation went from bad to worse as different abuses were heaped on Ana by two coaches. The ICTA Women’s Pro Tennis Team journeyed to Juarez, Mexico, where they saw Anastasia in a very difficult circumstance.  Ana then escaped her abusive situation as ICTA flew her to Florida and offered her help.  A short month later, during ICTA Discipleship Training,  Ana became a Christian.  She believes God came to find her in Juarez, Mexico.  Her testimony has inspired thousands….Ask Ana what her goal in life is and she will tell you two things… #1. Reach top 100 WTA (she is currently 488 in the world), and #2 tell people about Jesus. She knows the better she becomes as a pro player the larger her platform to share her faith will be”. (taken from her coaches,Scott Paschal,  blog)
 

We were certainly blessed and inspired with her stay in our home and we hope we cross paths again.  Our prayers go with Anastasia as she continues her journey around the world on the pro tennis circuit.  May her gifts and talents help bring many lost souls to Jesus Christ!

(The girls trying to impress Ana with their Wii tennis skills. . .)

I love how God providential crossed our paths, a North American family living in South America and a Ukrainian girl traveling the world, only God could do this.  Missionaries helping and inspiring other missionaries.

*photo credit for the first 2 action pictures: Jose Salcedo Z
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