I have never raised a child, and I’m pretty sure I never will. But my heart aches today as if my only child was killed before my very eyes.

Hamzat Alexandrov was born April 17, 1998, God knows where in Europe. It could have been Russia, it could have been in some nearby country. His mother was a travelling gypsy who does not know the identity of the father. After raising him for several years in the travelling gypsy clan, one day she decided that she no longer wanted to be a mother … and she dropped Hamzat off somewhere.

I don’t know where she left him.

Several months later the Russian Government tracked her down and asked her if she wanted Hamzat back.

She said no.

I hope she did not just abandon him because she wanted the freedom to party. I sincerely hope that in her heart-of-hearts she believed that he would be better off being raised by others.

He ended up at the Yurievets Boarding School in the Ivanova Region of Russia, about 8 years old at the time and with no formal education to that point. He was way behind in school, but fortunately landed in a place where people love him.

I met Hamzat through a picture of him on a table in the foyer of church. A Christian organization had established roots in Russian orphanages, and he was one of many Russian orphans who needed a sponsor.

My wife Sheri liked his salute in the picture, thought he looked like a real character, and suggested that we pick him. I agreed, and I am so thankful we picked Hamzat.

Last June we had the good fortunate to be able to travel to Russia with a group of others to spend a week in Yurievets, and it was one of the most difficult yet rewarding weeks of my life. Getting to know Hamzat and the other kids at the orphanage was a special blessing that I will always cherish.

Since returning from our trip, we have written to him regularly … and periodically we have received updates about all the benefits that the sponsorship program provides the kids, including a personal note from Hamzat.

Until now.

Incredulously, the Russian Government has decided to end this particular sponsorship program. This means that we can no longer sponsor Hamzat financially, we can no longer send letters to him, and we can no longer receive updates about him and from him.

I don’t know whether to sob or scream … I keep bouncing back and forth.

I feel like someone has killed my only child right before my very eyes.