NEWS / REHAB

Feeling God’s Mercy

“Hello, my name is Armen and I am 33 years old. I am married and have two children. Presently, I am undergoing rehabilitation in the Christian rehab center and I am thankful to the Lord to be here!

 

Two months ago my life was a total wreck, but my struggles began many years ago. When I was young, I was a carless person and I didn’t care about other people. In my self-absorption, I lost interest in education and began drinking alcohol and smoking cigarettes. Despite my many moral failures, I somehow graduated from high schooland entered the railway academy, where I began using illegal drugs and became an addict. To keep high, I lied, stole, and got into legal trouble. I was spiraling down the drain quickly. 

 

Five years ago I met my wife and I was inspired to become sober. I admitted myself into an addiction treatment center and sought medical help, but I could not break free from my addiction – will power wasn't enough. I was released and then got into multiple car accidents while intoxicated -- fortunately, my life was miraculously spared.

After these accidents, I seriously contemplated my life and began to seek God’s help.  My friend agreed to meet with me and he told me about a ‘Christian rehab center’ where he gained freedom from his addiction. I was inspired by his testimony, so I applied and was accepted as a patient. 

It was here that I was introduced to the Bible and learned life lessons that I had never known about previously. After about a month of Bible studies that were conducted by Slavic Christian Ministries, the Word of God became clear to me. I was especially inspired by the small groups and quiet time where the other patients would meditateon the Bible, so I began to do the same. After many biblical discussions, I saw my depravity and realized that I needed Jesus Christ as my Savior! Last Sunday (during the service), I prayed the prayer of repentance and asked Jesus into my heart. And for the first time, I truly feel God’s mercy!

My greatest desire is for my family to be saved, learn about God’s love, and to glorify Jesus Christ with me. I also want to continue my biblical studies, get baptized, and discover my calling as I go forward in my newfound life. I need God's wisdom and direction, so I would deeply appreciate your prayers as I go forward! Thank you to the SCM staff for helping me, bringing me to Christ, and helping so many other people find freedom from their addiction. Thank you!”         - Armen

 

Armen’s story gives us hope too; we are never beyond God’s merciful hand, no matter how far we have gone. I am reminded of Romans 5:20a-21, “But where sin increased, grace increased all the more, so that, just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

 

Please continue to pray for transformed lives in all our ministry areas, so others will be changed, like Armen. We have seen 989 people make first time professions of faith, since I began this ministry in 2001. Our hope and prayer are to see our 1,000 people make the same commitment as Armen before the end of the year, if not sooner. Because of your sacrifice and prayers, we continue to make kingdom impact one person at a time.

Healed Hands and A Healed Heart

“Hello, my name is Sergey and I was born in the town of Poltava, which is located a couple hours drive from Kharkov. I am 33 years old and I used to be a drug addict. Formerly, I was an unbeliever and because of my sinful actions, I was drowning in personal guilt. Because I don’t have any relatives that are Christian, I never knew anything about God, until I came to Kharkov for employment. Then one day, by happenstance, I found a Bible on the side of the road. No one claimed the Bible, so out of curiosity, I began reading the Word of God.

 

God used this season of my life to draw me closer to him, but I also realized that I resisted his call upon my life, because I was enjoying my sinful ways. On Easter morning, when I was completely intoxicated by drugs and alcohol, I had an accident and seriously injured my hand and several of my fingers stopped functioning. This was tragic because my livelihood is based on me being able to use my hands. I cried out to God for mercy and help and almost immediately, God sent a A photo of Sergey, after he discovered the Good News and gave his life to Christ. Christian into my life, who guided me to the rehabilitation center, so I could be free of all my sinful entanglements. When I was admitted to the rehab center, I discovered that many people had a similar past as me; people who had been reckless and were spiritually lost and needed physical and spiritual freedom.

 

The atmosphere at the rehab center was welcoming and appealing to me, and for the first time in my life I felt at peace because of the love shown toward me by Christians. During my stay there, I attended Slavic Christian Ministries’ theology class that was based on Ron Putnam’s books. I cannot express what a huge blessing this course has been for me; I can now view my life from God’s perspective.

 

One day, after interacting with many Christians, studying God’s Word, and taking the theology class, I fully gave my life to Christ and I now have freedom from all my sins! Because of God’s work in my life, I now want to serve my Lord and help people realize how much God loves them too! In another miracle, God healed my hands, so I could work again. Now that I am sober, I want to appreciate this miracle by once again working with my hands and never take for granted God’s mercy that was pour out to me. I praise God for all he has done!” - Sergey

The Testimony of Dmitriy Naumov

“Hello, my name is Dmitriy, I used to live in the town of Makeevka, which is next door to the city of Donetsk, which had become its own self-proclaimed republic with the help of Russia (Donetsk National Republic). This is where most of the fighting remains.

Before I gave my life to Jesus as my Lord and Savior, I constantly experienced God’s wrath and was entrapped in my sinful temptations of alcohol abuse, drug use, and fornication, to name a few. It is hard to describe all of my shortcomings and failures before I met Jesus, but my immoral lifestyle and bad choices made me a drug addict.

Deep down, I always knew I was lost and that God existed, so I researched various religions, but I never found God. Out of despair, I remained in my drug addiction and became very desperate. I even tried to join the army when the war broke out in an attempt to escape my situation, but the Army would not take me as a soldier.

After speaking to a friend about his rehabilitation process and the freedom he gained, my heart was touched and I admitted to myself it was time for me to receive real help. After my arrival to this rehab center, I accepted Jesus as my Savior and I have been clean from all my addictions for two years, By God’s grace, I am serving as pastor Zhenya’s helper. I can truly say that SCM’s Bible lessons, Ron Putnam’s book’s, and the continual Christian counseling have helped many patients, and has blessed me in my spiritual growth too. My relationship with Christ and my Christian maturing have been greatly enhanced.

In the future I plan to get baptized, continue my process of sanctification, being Christ’s disciple, and continuing my Christian education. My desire is also to get married, but I have dedicated my life to serving Jesus Christ. Thank you for praying for me!”

I Want To Win People For Jesus Christ!

“Hi, my name is Andrey. I am 37 years old and originally from Donetsk, Ukraine. Before coming to Christ, I was successful in making lots of money. But I used this success to engage in drugs for 13 years. During this period of time, I witnessed many tragedies, including the death of my close friends. These events only intensified my longing for drugs, which kept ruining my life. I was so addicted to drugs that I could not see a way out of my situation. My Christian neighbor couldn’t watch me suffer any longer and offered to help me enter rehab. She was so kind that she even paid for my transportation costs to get to the facility.

Unfortunately, I left the rehab center and returned to drugs for another year, but my brothers in Christ continued to pray for me. By God’s mercy I returned to the rehabilitation center and continued my healing process. The second time was much better, because it was during this second stint, that I gave my life to Jesus Christ.

With God’s help, I have studied God’s Word, learned spiritual disciplines, and I have been interacting with other Christians, like Zhenya. Over time, God has been transforming me from the inside out. My constant struggles with my sin nature resulted in my sincere repentance. Ron Putnam’s book and the course “A Key to Freedom” taught and helped me to gain the right perspective and direction in my life. Many scripture passages have encouraged me to seek Jesus and ask him to guide me in life. I am learning how to overcome my addiction and how live a victorious life in Jesus Christ. I am being set free from sin more and more! My counseling sessions with Zhenya have really helped me in my spiritual growth too.

I personally want to thank Zhenya and all those involved in this ministry; you are instruments in God’s hands for the expansion of his kingdom and the service of people like me! God has already revealed to me that I need to serve him. I still struggle, but my true desire is to cling to Christ and to his church. I also hope that God will allow me to get married some day and keep growing me in my spiritual walk with him. I want to win people for Jesus Christ!” – Andrey

What a transformation! Andrey was a very angry man who tried to destroy relationships within the rehabilitation center, and he did everything he could to push people away. But Jesus entered his heart and his entire demeanor and behavior changed. Now he wants to serve Christ with all of his heart. Praise God!

Sergey’s Story

“Hello, my name is Sergey and I am 43 years old. I was born in the city of Mykolaiv, which is just north of the Black Sea. I grew up in a decent family, but I was a disobedient teenager. My poor life choices eventually led me to using drugs, which then steered me to stealing so I could support my drug addiction. I was eventually arrested and I spent over 10 years in prison because of my drug habit. Ten years of my life were wasted in prison because of my drug practice!

I first heard about God in prison. After I began following God and trying to tell other inmates about God too. But once I was released from prison, I once again turned to drugs. I wasn’t trying to be rebellious, like in my teenage years, but I was trying to find the “meaning of life.” I now know it was a senseless decision, but God had not taken full control of my life yet.
Because I did have an awareness of God in my life, I decided to come to this Christian Rehabilitation Center, with the hope of getting my life and faith back on track. I am currently in my rehabilitation process.

I was given the opportunity to attend Slavic Christian Ministries’ Bible course and to study the Scriptures, but we have also learned additional important life skills by studying lessons like “Keys to Freedom.” Perhaps it would be more accurate for me to say that God transforms my heart through these classes. God has revealed himself to me through our study time, as I learn about Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, about creation of the world, and about his love for me, just to name a few. I have also discovered that God has a plan for my salvation which is great news!

Pastor Zhenya is always pointing me to Christ and continually setting me on the right course for the future. Now I am sure that the “One who began a good work in me will complete it until I have overcome my addiction and become who God wants me to be” (Phil.1:6). I want to thank pastor Zhenya and everyone for investing in my life. In the future, I would also like to help other addicts to gain real freedom in Christ.” – Sergey

Second Time is the Charm

“Hi, my name is Ivan and I am 37 year old from Kiev. I grew up in a respectable family and I had a normal childhood. As an adult, I became a very successful businessman until my life fell apart. Able to make a good income, I lived the “high life” and spent an enormous amount of money on alcohol and trying to live out my own personal fantasies that are portrayed in Hollywood. As you can imagine, I became an alcoholic and ruined my life.

During my crisis, my mom accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior and she was interceding for me in prayer on a regular basis. When I discovered this Christian rehabilitation center, I agreed to enter rehab in an effort to turn my life around. I was confident that I was able to stay sober after I completed my treatment, but I was completely wrong, because I tried to live in sobriety by my own strength. The result was a relapse for another 8 months of self-destruction until I came to the conclusion that I needed to repent of my sins, accept Jesus as my Savior, like my mom did, and give my life to God. I know now that the only way to stay sober is for me to rely on Jesus; I clearly cannot do it in my own strength.

With my second rehabilitation, I came with the sincere intention to getting myself mentally and physically healthy and restoring my relationship with God. When I discovered that Slavic Christian Ministries taught a Bible course, I was very interested in attending and went to every class.

At first, I was trying to comprehend simple biblical truths and what God expected of me … how to live and what to know about living as a successful Christian. Pastor Zhenya not only taught me the Bible, but gave me practical life skills on how to live a godly life and how to model Christ. I came to realize that I was being transformed in my mind and being! Looking backward, I can see the significant changes in my life. This Bible group has made a dramatic influence on my life. I have learned how to analyze my life decisions, the consequences of my actions and how to live for Christ going forward.

I thank God for Zhenya and Slavic Christian Ministries for helping me come closer to Christ and helping me gain spiritual wisdom and understanding on how to live for God. I am also thankful for everyone who supports this ministry, because it truly helped me in every way! In the future, I would like to be involved with a ministry that also helps recovering addicts, like myself, to find freedom in Christ and be delivered from their bondage.” – Ivan

Love and Forgiveness Supplant Hate

“Hi, my name is Vasiliy. I am from the city of Slavyansk (where much of the war has been fought). I am an alcoholic who has hurt many people in my past, including my closest relatives. In the past, I have dealt with much anger, hate, and unforgiveness.

When I moved to Kharkov, I met a Christian woman who told me about Jesus and invited to the rehab center. Knowing that I was in a distressed state, I accepted the invitation and became a patient at this drug rehabilitation center.

After entering the center, I was amazed at how many people were very friendly and sincerely open to helping me, accepting me, and just being there for me. This was a big change for me, considering how many relationships I have alienated and destroyed over the past few years. I was so pleased to see how faithful people were to God. I began reading the Bible regularly, and eventually, I repented of my sins and received Jesus into my heart.

I began attending the Bible study group and signed up for the Bible course “A Key to Freedom,” which was led by Slavic Christian Ministries employee, pastor Zhenya Gerasimov. As a result of the course and this group, my entire demeanor and worldview has changed. Instead of living a hopeless life of self-destruction, I have begun to see God’s hand in everything, including my punishment or discipline that I needed to endure.

Before being saved, I had the inability to love or forgive anyone. That changed here … I have received love and forgiveness in this rehabilitation, and also have discovered that that Jesus taught us to both love and forgive others, like he forgave us. I have learned that forgiving others has provided me with much joy and contentment in my life. Based on what I have learned and by the way I have turned my life around, my encouragement to you today is to love and forgive those who dislike or hate you! And may Jesus be with all of you! Amen.”

Continuing to Hunger for God, Despite Being Ex-communicated

“For a while now, I have been engaged in Christian counseling and teaching theological courses on Ron Putnam’s books, as well as, other theological topics. We have studied topics that are helpful to these patients’ rehabilitation. Topics include the spiritual disciplines of prayer, confession, fasting, simplicity, solitude and silence, love, grace, worship, studying God’s Word, the keys to freedom, the importance of salvation in Christ, one’s assurance of salvation, the process of sanctification, and knowing about the trinity.

These lessons are important because many of these men have been excommunicated from church. But despite their removal from church, God is not absent in pursuing them. Many of these patients have a sincere spiritual hunger inside of them to know the Lord, grow, and develop into greater Christ-likeness. My counseling is allowing me to develop relationships with the men and help them overcome their current situation. I was encouraged to see 16 people give their lives to Christ at the Liberty Rehabilitation Center in the town of Poktilovka.

The atmosphere in the classroom is welcoming and conducive to understanding God’s Word and sharing their thoughts and personal testimonies. One deep conversation occurred between a group of men and I after we studied the topic of “confession,” since confessing one’s sins is vitally important to becoming free from one’s guilty conscience. They learned with God’s help, they are able to eliminate the darkness and oppression of their lives and find freedom that comes through Christ and confessing one’s sins. This was a defining moment for these men.

I would also like your readers to know that I am also serving at a drug rehabilitation hospital. I come here regularly to evangelize people and offer them the opportunity to go into one of our Christian centers. It is amazing the various types of people who are in this hospital. The patients include highly educated individuals, big business men, army officers, entrepreneurs, and many homeless people. Some people are talkative and others are quiet, reserved, and don’t want to engage in conversation.

During one of my visits, I met a 30 year old man named Maxim. He had been imprisoned twice for drug abuse. Unfortunately, his addiction caused him to lose his hand, and perhaps a relationship with his wife and child. I was able to share my testimony and the Good News of Jesus Christ. I will visit him again and pray that he will accept the Lord. Another person I met is named Sasha, when I spoke to him about the Lord, he broke down into tears. There are many opportunities to witness in this hospital, but make no mistake, there are also very hardened people too. Please thank everyone for helping me witness to these people for Christ.”

Doors Opening and Attentive Listening

This month’s prayer letter concentrates on our newest ministry to recovering drug and alcohol addicts. It is a vital ministry because a huge percentage of the Ukrainian population is addicted to some sort of substance. In fact, many of the orphans we minister to are social orphans, which were taken away from destructive homes where the parents were destroying themselves and abusing their children because of their addiction.

With the help of another ministry, Slavic Christian Ministries was able to hire Zhenya, who is a Baptist pastor and former drug addict himself. He has an intense passion to see people set free from this very destructive addiction. Patients respond wonderfully to Zhenya and he is doing an amazing work in four locations:

• Adaptation Rehabilitation Center (Christian ministry)
• Liberty Rehabilitation Center (Christian ministry)
• Yasnaya Polyana Rehabilitation Center (Christian ministry)
• Kharkov Mental Hospital #15 (Government run hospital for addicts)

In the Christian facilities, Zhenya is engaging in counseling, Christian theological courses, and bring people to the Lord through friendship evangelism. We are pleased that Zhenya can work in these Christian centers, but I am personally encouraged by his work in the governmental hospital. Please read Zhenya’s recent note to me.

Dear Ron,

The ministry in the hospital is growing and I am very excited to report that beginning this August, God has opened the doors of three more drug abuse departments and one department for “special people” who have been treated in the hospital for many years. People from this department listened to the Word attentively, asked various questions, shared their own life experience and gladly received “New Testaments.” One man has been in this “special” department for 27 years, but he is very optimistic to be released and start a new life in spite of his long stay in the mental hospital. He was very sincere with his response to the Gospel and even began quoting Biblical passages after our interactions.

Lives are changing here in Ukraine through this ministry. People are turning to Christ and lives are being transformed! Last month God blessed me to bring one person from the drug abuse department to Liberty Rehabilitation Center. After moving to our Christian location, he has just blossomed as a Christian. I believe this man will continue toward a changed life in Christ. Please tell everyone thank you!

Yuriy’s Testimony

Hello, my name is Yuriy; I am 38 years old man who was born and raised in Kharkov, where Slavic Christian Ministries is headquartered. As a child, I grew up in a fairly common family – my father drank, but wasn’t an alcoholic. As I grew up, I began smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, smoked marijuana, and popped various pills, in an attempt to get high from the drugs. As I grew older, my drug habit morphed in to harder drugs, like opium.

After I met my future wife, I quit using drugs for the sake of my new family, but somehow, my wife came under the bad influence of her “so-called” friends and started using amphetamine. She has been addicted for seven years. Eventually, my resistance to abstain from drugs was lowered and I fell back into a destructive pattern, so I decided to enter myself into this drug rehabilitation center, where I met Zhenya, Ron’s ministry partner.

Since entering this rehabilitation center, I have met God, been studying my Bible, and I have been learning much about my newfound faith in Jesus. Zhenya is constantly reminding me to filter my life through the Scriptures for practical application and how to live in Christ’s freedom. I have discovered that meditating on God’s Word always helps me, inspires me, and brings me to a point of truth and grace.

My hope, prayer, and goal for my future is to complete my rehabilitation process and never return to my old life-style ever again. Now that I have accepted Christ as my Savior, I also want to get baptized in order to make a covenant with God and commit my life to Jesus, since he died on the cross for my sake. Once I am restored, I would like to also work with other drug addicts, so they can overcome their disease, know Christ as Savior, and have a better life. Please pray for me that God will me the strength me and give me the patience and time to grow in my faith.

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