Baptised on the Flick of a Coin! – Poltava, Ukraine

Jun 15, 2017 5650

Baptised on the Flick of a Coin! – Poltava, Ukraine

“Every day I thank God for being baptised.”

Well, there was more to it, but one of the strangest baptisms I’ve ever been involved in happened this year in Poltava, Ukraine. I’d never seen anyone baptised on a flick of a coin – although there was a lot more to it than that!

Some men from the local drug rehab centre had been attending the Gospel meetings we were holding in Poltava. As I was speaking from the front, I noticed a man named Valerii who was regularly attending the meetings. He would sit next to his friend, and turn to him with a laugh from time to time when I made some spiritual points about Jesus or the Gospel. I knew that he was from the local drug rehab centre, and I imagined that he was just acting tough when faced with some of the spiritual truths that we were presenting.

On the day of the baptisms, after everyone had been baptised, I decided to make a final call. I invited anyone else who had been attending the programme, and who wanted baptisim, to come to the front and be baptised. I told the people that if there was anyone else we would baptise them then and there.

I had hardly finished speaking when Valerii almost ran up from the back of the hall, pointing to himself, and fist-pumping the air in excitement! He ran to the front and stood at the edge of the baptismal pool, not knowing what to do. We helped him to get changed. In a few minutes he came out again, stood at the edge of the pool, and threw his arms in the air with joy. He then crossed himself in the orthodox way as his instincts and upbringing took over, and jumped into the pool – almost a dive-bomb! There was the laughter all round, but it was the laughter of joy!

Valerii almost ran up from the back of the hall,  fist-pumping the air in excitement!

After the baptism, Valerii came to tell me something, and he gave me a shiny Ukrainian coin. As he excitedly spoke to me in Russian, I called our interpreter over, because I couldn’t follow what he was trying to tell me. The interpreter told me the amazing background to Valerii’s baptism.

Valerii had been sitting at the back of the hall. He had no intention of being baptised, but when I made that final call, he felt God strongly calling to his heart. Still he resisted, so he flicked a coin he had in his pocket, and he prayed, “If it comes up eagles, then I will know you want me to be baptised.” As soon as the coin landed eagle-side up, he came to the front and was baptised.

Here is Valerii’s story in his own words:

I thought about God for the first time when I was in prison in 2002. I was a drug addict, I had stolen drugs and therefore I was put into jail. I started going to church services in prison but only as my mother sent me things through the pastor. Normally she was only allowed to bring me things once a month. When I wasn’t in jail, my mother would give me beer for each time I would attend church. Out of jail, I continued using drugs and returned to jail two more times.

It was only in 2015, when I was being treated at the rehab centre where the GNU pastor comes to share the Gospel, that I decided to learn about God, for the first time having no ulterior motive.  

One time we talked about the importance of making vows to God, and I promised Him that I would read the Bible every day. That day I received the gift Bible from the GNU pastor. Since then, I’ve read at least 1 chapter from each of the Testaments every day.

My eyes began to open as God repeatedly saved me and continues to save me. I have had HIV since 1998. In 2010, I was in hospital for the HIV and also for sepsis, a common blood poisoning. I was very tormented and afflicted and asked God to die. But I’m still alive.

Another time, when my parents died, I had a lot of debts, including a loan in a bank. They seized the apartment. And I still do not understand how, but I became free of those debts.

I am very optimistic about the future.

When the evangelists from Australia came this year, I went to all the meetings. The pastor invited me to be baptised, but I refused. I came on the day of baptism just to watch, with no intention of being baptised. But after everyone was already baptised, the pastor stayed in the water, and the evangelist made a call from the pulpit. I felt that he was talking directly to me and I consulted my friends on what I should do. They also encouraged me to be baptised. I threw a coin and decided that if it fell out the eagle side up, I would be baptised. The eagle side came up and I went to the front and was baptised. 

I had finished my last packet of cigarettes before the baptism and I decided not to smoke anymore.  A week later I began to study to become an Addiction Recovery Consultant. I talked to a group of men about how I quit smoking, and during the two-week session all 15 of us quit smoking! 

 Every day I thank God for being baptised. I am very optimistic about the future. God has already done a lot for me, so I believe that he will continue to give me both work and strength, despite the fact that I have a trophic ulcer and physically I cannot work. I could not even pay for the tuition, but my new Christian family have found a sponsor for me, and I am able to study for free.

On top of that, I have 6 months of freedom from drugs this month!

– Eliezer Gonzalez

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