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Friday, May 08, 2009

Ten Years of Addiction - Now Free and Serving Others!

Every week Karen and I meet with a new young pastor, Sergei Zhaldak. We have known this young man for a little of two years and have had the joy of being a part of the team which discipled him. Here is his testimony.

Karen & Michael
with Sergei (in blue stripes)
and his team

I was raised in an average Russian family. My mother and father were good people and gave me a good home. I was an average student, but didn’t like school and never studied. When I was in elementary school I began to play chess becoming a skilled player and competed in many regional tournaments winning many prizes against players much older than myself. As I entered my teen years I began to play less and spend more time with friends on the street


I first used drugs at the age of 15 and for the next five years I used them a lot. During this time I was reasonably happy and I considered myself to be in control of my life. I thought that I could quit using drugs whenever I wanted.

Coming into my twenties I realized that I was addicted and that I had no control over my addiction and I began seeking a way out. I overdosed at least ten times and often when I regained consciousness my ribs would be broken and my body bruised because my friends were pounding on me to keep me breathing. I should have been dead several times. Twice I entered the hospital to shake my addiction, but nothing worked and I returned to getting high as soon as I left the hospital. I continued this lifestyle for more than ten years and was very tired of the addiction. It was during this time that I cried out to God asking to be free and if He would do this for me I would dedicate my life to Him.

One day a young woman with whom I would often get high began to tell me about a wonderful rehabilitation center she had attended where everyone was friends and people were happy. She had been in this rehab program but had left and was now using drugs again, but she was very enthusiastic about the program. She told me that if I wanted to break my addiction I should consider going into the program.

Shortly after this I decided to attend a meeting where we were told about the rehab program and we heard testimonies from former drug addicts. We were instructed that if we wanted to be admitted into the program we would first need to attend Cornerstone church on Sunday so I decided that I would go


That Sunday I went with my sister to Cornerstone church for the first time. I never imagined that a church could meet in an auditorium at a music school so right from the start it was a very strange experience for us. The small hall was filled with people raising their hands, people praying out loud, lots of loud music, and then the pastor preaching. I thought it was all very odd, but I really wanted to enter rehab and be free of my addiction so I stayed until the end.

After the service we met with the rehab leader and he told that there were no open places in the rehab so we would need to wait a while before we could enter the program. I was very disappointed and went home and got high.

The next morning I decided to call the leader and ask again if I could enter the program. He told me that if I really wanted to enter that badly they would make room for me and then he told me to arrange for someone to drive us out to the center the next day at noon. My father agreed to drive us to the center the next day in his car.

The morning of my entering the rehab program I was awakened by an addict friend who had come by and wanted to get high together. My decision was made. I told him, “No, I am going into rehab today.” That afternoon I entered the program.

At first the program was very strange to me with all the praying and Bible reading, but soon I came to believe that Jesus could help me and save me and I began to grow spiritually. My addictions left and my spiritual strength increased. After graduating from the first course I went on to the second course and it was during this time that I learned how to serve people and learned the basics of how to disciple people.

When I had completed both courses I wanted to continue serving God in ministry so I became one of the leaders and served in the rehab center for a year. While doing this I decided to enter the ministry full time and in the fall of 2008 I moved to Siberia where I attended a 3 month Bible school/Missionary school.

I graduated in January 2009 and moved back to the Nizhny Novgorod area where I gathered a small team and today we are living in the city of Dzerzhinsk which is situated about 50 kilometers from Nizhny Novgorod. There are many drug addicts and homeless people in this city of 250,000 people. We hope to begin a church, a rehabilitation center and a social center and though we are only just beginning we know that God is with us and will bless our work. I am already dreaming of new cities were we can establish churches and rehab centers in the future


Pastor Sergei Zhaldok


Warren Dale Brown said...

What a great testimony! Inspirational!

Amrita said...

This is God 's work. Praise the Lord