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'In America I was suffocating': why the Kievite did not take root in the USA and returned to Ukraine

Andrey Kuksenko is a former military man, and now he is a pastor. He immigrated to the United States and founded a church there. The immigrant was able to overcome all difficulties and achieve success both in the States and in Ukraine. The pastor's story was told by the publication MC.Today.

Photo: Shutterstock

Further - from the first person.

Life is given to us on a lease basis

Our family left for the USA in 2006, primarily because we are believers. I used to be in the military. Having already become a believer, I began to understand that life has been given to us, so to speak, on a lease basis.

At the end of 2005, I had the feeling that I needed to go somewhere and serve. Then everything turned out: both the knowledge of the language and other factors.

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In the United States, we settled in the state of Washington. We wanted to start something new. They opened a church there.

At first we had Russian-speaking parishioners, but because I speak English, a mixed audience gathered: Americans, Mexicans, and in general, people from different countries.

We were united by two factors: of course, faith in God and bilingualism. This is how the multicultural church was born.

But when we moved to the USA, we were not really understood. They asked me: "Why did you come here, because you have a reputation, respect, and a big church in Ukraine?" And when we returned to Ukraine, we were told practically the same thing: "Why did you come, because the States have more opportunities."

This once again confirmed, however religious it may sound, that on this earth we are all strangers and strangers. We are in this world for a very short time, there is no need to “stick” somewhere.

The USA is one big immigration. Someone in the first generation, someone in the second and third. Mostly they go there because they want to somehow arrange life. Many people think that money grows on trees in America, and this is the most popular misconception.

Yes, you can get something there faster: buy a car, some things, save up for travel, buy housing on credit.

But here the flip side is manifested: a person understands that all this did not produce the effect he expected. So it's good where we are not, and the grass is greener near the neighbor.

I had different expectations and motives. Upset only one thing: there were no people with whom you can talk. Being an enterprising and energetic person by nature, I myself organized intercultural and interethnic evenings - thus we have got an intercultural community.

My wife once said: “It feels like all immigrants who come here are led through a black box. They are being washed there, but they are not being washed, and they are not yet Americans, but they are no longer bright representatives of the countries from which they came. "

Why People Don't Assimilate

Once in a store we saw a woman in shoes that were worn in the USSR in the 1970s. You can still meet a man wearing a "bat" jacket, which was fashionable with us in the early 1990s. These people are somehow not assimilated.

We lived in an area where there was a fairly large Russian-speaking community, and there it is noticeable. You won't find this in New York: this is not the USA, this is the center of the world. There are not many people like this in Los Angeles, but you see them: gait, attitude, speech, facial expression that does not change.

We tried to fly to Ukraine twice a year, after all, our relatives were there.

Once, when we were returning, at the Amsterdam airport, a customs officer asked me to translate something from English into Russian for our man. We met him, and I asked him how long he had been in the States. It turned out to be 25 years old. What about English? He answers: "Why do I need it, I communicate with our people, and I don't need him."

In my opinion, the biggest problem with immigration is when people try to take advantage of the benefits of their host country, but preserve their culture. There are those who like to create problems for themselves, and then with a cry "Hurray!" solve them.

One of my close friends is going to return from the USA to Ukraine. He has a beautiful large house of 300 squares - even by American standards, this is good.

But he arrives home at one in the morning and leaves at half past four in the morning. He has his own truck there, several people work for him. He says that he only spends the night in this house and can no longer live like this. It seems that everything is there, but he does not live his life.

How everything really works

Once, in my opinion, George Marshall expressed an interesting idea that after the Second World War everything that exists in the world is systems. The United States is also a system that requires a certain sacrifice. This sacrifice is your life and your time. If a person wants to immigrate there, he must understand why he needs it.

If you don't have a goal and you go there for some kind of fuss, it will swallow you. It will provide access to benefits, but you will not have to live, but plow. Over time, this sucks all the juices out of a person. And he no longer understands what he is doing. Therefore, many want to return from there.

I think that when I left for the USA, I won. But when I returned, I won too. I called this trip a second higher education, because I ended up in a country that, in many aspects, is 20 or even 100 years ahead.

For example, you see in our Ukraine people who shout: “This is necessary, this is correct, let's do it,” and you understand that this path will lead to nowhere.


A simple example: people strive to provide a cool life, comfort. It's fun at first. But in reality, you earn, you reach a certain level, and then you need to provide and protect what you have achieved.

But people do not understand this and, having achieved something, they expect that it will continue to advance. But this is not the case.

In the States, I saw that some businessmen, after the second or third cycle of such falls, come to the fact that they just start living, and do business additionally.

On the contrary, the cart is in front of the horse. And I'm trying to explain: very soon you will come to understand that everything you have achieved is nothing. And you will no longer get satisfaction from it. They don't believe me, but after a while they come with the words: "I remember what you told me."

Bringing up children

Everything according to Benjamin Spock: you need to give freedom, you cannot limit the child so that he becomes a free person. And this is gaining popularity with us.

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I saw these children: they are completely uncontrollable, half of them are on antidepressants in elementary school. And to those who admire Spock's system, I want to say: look at the people she raised, what kind of parents they became, and what kind of children they have. These are traumatized people.


Now regarding the Christian world: what we perceive today as "wow, this is something new" was already there 20 or 30 years ago. And the Americans already know how it will end.

There are about 15 different social projects in our Christian Social Center - I have seen such projects in the USA, and they work. That is why I think that I won in both cases: when I left and when I returned.

Here the church is only now coming to the conclusion that we somehow need to interact with society. In the States - a society that was created by the church.

The church brings these values ​​not when it is closed, but when it interacts with society at the usual social level.

Many of our people want to return, but do not return. Those who want to leave, having American citizenship or a green card, having been in Ukraine for a month or two, see that it is not easy here too, so they return.

For some people, the United States is almost a promised land. If a person has an inner need to do something somewhere, then the necessary doors will always open.

3,5 thousand people leave the ministry in the USA a year

There are already many churches in America. So why did I go there?

In the early 1980s, there was such a person in the Christian world - Boris Perchatkin. He opened the entrance with a password. A password was a bill or amendment that allowed persecuted people to immigrate. He himself was an immigrant and pushed the idea.

And a lot of people from the former USSR came this way. When I spoke to American ministers and politicians, they said that they expected something completely different. In the United States, they understood what price people in the Soviet Union pay to be believers.

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Americans thought that believers who experienced severe persecution behind the Iron Curtain would bring fire, ignite others, and bring revival. Imagine the surprise of American ministers when our immigrants came and just arranged their lives.

The population of the United States, if I'm not mistaken, is 337 million people. According to statistics, about 3,5 thousand people leave the ministry there a year. Only at first glance it seems that this is a Christian country. Yes, there are many churches, but these churches are half empty.

The states need Christianity even more than they do here. And there you will not be able to be a nominal believer, as sometimes we do. There you have to be either burning or nothing. Because the pressure is enormous. They have a long Christian history with many disappointments and failures. I had a clear fire and motive to serve.

Why we returned to Kiev

After 3,5 years, my wife and I realized that it was necessary to return to Kiev.

I was born and raised in Kiev, and in cities with a population of less than 1 million I start to choke. It so happened that in the city where we arrived, the population was maximum 300 thousand. And all these four years it was humanly difficult for me. I'm not used to this pace.

We continue to keep in touch with some of the people there. For me, the effectiveness of what has been done is evaluated by the fact that those who are able to teach others and convey certain values ​​to them - this is the most important thing.

We had a 42-year-old man in church, a former homeless man who has been using drugs since he was 13, half Mexican and half American. When he recovered, he began to minister to teenagers. And that's great.

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