By the time I was twenty years old I was a hard core drug addict supporting myself primarily by pick pocketing and stealing the cash. One day while riding a bus a young woman and I realized that were trying to steal the same wallet! We thought that was pretty funny so we got off the bus together at the next stop and began to talk. We discovered that we liked each other and started living together, stealing and doing drugs.
After some time my girlfriend became pregnant. We had no desire to change our lifestyle, and neither of us wanted the burden or responsibility of a baby, so we decided to simply end the pregnancy with an abortion. Before we were able to do this we were both arrested. In Russia the law gives a lesser sentence to a pregnant woman so my girlfriend took all the blame, received a short jail sentence, and I was set free. Although the prison sentence was short, by the time she was released it was too late for her to get an abortion so we were stuck with an unwanted baby. Soon a little girl was born, but as unrepentant drug addicts we had no use for a baby so we left it with my mom and continued in our life of crime and drug use. I see now that even in my life of crime and addiction God was watching over me and today I thank Him for His mercy by not allowing me to murder my daughter.
I was arrested a second time and because of the long sentence my girlfriend decided to not wait for me. Instead, she started living with a good friend of mine. While in prison I remember burning with anger at her unfaithfulness and planning my revenge, how I would stab her to death after I was released. Fortunately, I never carried out my plans and we just went our separate ways.
I continued in my drug use and crime for years being utterly self absorbed; totally uninvolved with my little daughter. Her mother had also completely abandoned her. Since I persisted in using more and more drugs I was in and out of prison several more times and I understood that someday I would die from an overdose, but that was just the way life was. I had no hope for life; no hope for freedom from addiction. While my life continued to spiral downward my mom had been faithful to raise my daughter who was now 10 years old.
I began selling drugs to support my habit but I got caught and arrested. I was afraid because I knew that this time it would mean a very long prison sentence so I began to pray and said, “God, I don’t know if you are real, but if you are and you get me out of this mess, I will serve you." All I can tell you is that God in His grace and mercy works in mysterious ways. Not only was I able to avoid serving this long prison sentence, but the conviction for this particular crime disappeared from the court records. In my limited way I was sincere in this prayer, but sadly, as soon as the crisis was over I forgot about my promise to God.
One day a young guy, who could see that I was a drug addict, came up to me and handed my a small yellow flyer which read – Real Hope – Freedom from Drugs. He told me to call the number if I was tired of my life as an addict and that the people there would help me. As low as I had become in life, I still hadn't hit the bottom so I wasn’t really interested but I stuffed the flyer in my back pocket.
It wasn't long after that encounter when I resigned myself to the fact that my life was no longer worth living. I decided to hang myself and get it over with. I climbed up on a chair, tied a rope over a pipe and around my neck, and was about ready to kick the chair away when I stuck my hand in my back pocket. By this time I had completely forgotten about the yellow flyer so I can not explain why I did this, except to say that God was with me and remembered my prayer. I recalled that this young man had said I could find help, so I decided to call the number.
I spoke to a very kind brother, named Zhenya, who told me that they could help me. He seemed like a nice guy who was genuinely interested in me so I decided to enter the rehabilitation program and it was there that God finally got a hold of me and began to really work in my life. It was there in the rehab center that I learned about Jesus Christ and it was there in the center that He set me free from drugs. The first stage of the rehab course is four months long, but after only two months, with good intentions, but bad judgment, I violated one of the rules and I had to leave. During these two months I had become a follower of Jesus Christ and the work that God began in my life had really changed me. I started going to church and trying to serve God. I reunited with my daughter, who today is 14 years old, and now we have a good relationship. I have been completely drug free for three years. I have my own small business as a long distance truck driver and own my own truck. I love my new life, I love my work, I love my daughter and most of all l love God and thank Him for the great things He has done in my life.
We hear testimonies like this every week. God is doing amazing things as the Gospel brings hope and life to hundreds of ex-drug addicts. At the same time, every week on the local news, we see young men and women without hope who have ended their lives Thanks you for standing behind us as we serve the churches who minister to these young men and women.