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Habitat Internet Connection Leads to a Change of Heart

A Siberian woman attracted to the work of Habitat, but not its Christian mission, is so touched by the love of her team members that she asks to bbaptized.

by Millard Fuller

Armin Hecht was a dedicated Habitat for Humanity worker in several countries, including Canada, the United States and Hungary. Several years ago, Hecht discovered that he had an aggressive form of cancer that made him progressively weaker. Eventually, he could no longer work with Habitat.

Determined to keep supporting the work, though, he got on his computer and began to share about this ministry with others. He began communicating with a woman in Siberia named Elena Loktionova. Very quickly, she developed a strong interest in the work of Habitat for Humanity. During the course of the correspondence, Loktionova learned that Habitat for Humanity was a Christian organization. She was not happy about that. She was not a Christian and she told Hecht in no uncertain terms that she did not want him trying to convert her.

They eventually got over that rough spot in their relationship, and Loktionova began to inquire about where she could go to see some Habitat houses being built. Hecht helped her connect with an American Global Village Work Team scheduled to go to Romania. She did not have any money, but she was so determined to be a part of the work team that she took out a bank loan for the trip. Loktionova rode two and a half days on a train from her home in Siberia to Moscow and then took a plane to Romania.

Loktionova worked on the house on her 40th birthday–which she described as the most meaningful and exciting birthday of her life. When the work team members learned of her financial situation, they organized an effort to raise the money to pay off her loan. They sent her the money after they returned home. The whole experience of working in Romania was deeply meaningful to Loktionova.

After returning to Siberia, she continued to stay in touch with Hecht, who was getting weaker and weaker. Just a few weeks before his death, Loktionova informed Hecht that she was determined to bring Habitat for Humanity to Siberia. Furthermore, she wanted him to know that she had decided to be a Christian. She was baptized on an Easter Sunday.