From Running from the Police to Running a Rehab Centre – Krivoy Rog, Ukraine
Sep 13, 2018 8712
When I was child, I would attend the Orthodox Church once a year at Easter. At that time in my life it was obvious that I didn’t know God. The only thing I knew about was the religious holidays when it was forbidden to do any work. I remember that when either my younger sister or I were unwell, my mother would pray for us, and splash us with holy water. I did not see a Bible when I was growing up, but I did see my grandmother’s religious icons.
The last time I visited the church on Easter I was 15 years old, and awaiting a trail. My mother and I were at the night service and she told me to throw around poppy seeds, saying, “In the same way that nobody can gather these poppy seeds, nobody will make this case clear.” At the trial I was sentenced to two years and six months. At this point in my life I was yet to try drugs.
I was imprisoned under the Soviet power and was released in 1991, at the collapse of the USSR. By this time my friends were smoking marijuana, and they introduced me to it. I began smoking marijuana everyday. A short time later, my friends tried heavy drugs. For some time I resisted joining them, not wanting to take drug injections, but eventually I tried these drugs too. The first time I took them, I did not like them. The next time I was offered them, I tried again, and after that second time, there were thousands.
Once I was going to an addicts’ haunt, where they prepared drugs, when two drunken young men met me at the entrance of the house. They started abusing me, and I could not allow them to do that, so I began fighting. After the fight, one of the men had a broken jaw, and the other man died in hospital.
I was tired of living the way I was
I had to flee the country, and went to stay with relatives in Russia, where I hid so I wouldn’t be caught and imprisoned. For ten years I was in hiding either in Russia, or in Ukraine at my grandmother’s, with whom I attended church and who prayed for me for a long time.
At last, I ended up in Lugansk. There I got married, but a week after the wedding the police took me to Krivoy Rog to put me on trial for what had happened ten years earlier. However, my parents bribed the police investigator and the case was closed.
I went back to Lugansk, where I took drugs. Two years later, I got divorced and ended up sleeping anywhere I could find. When I was caught by the police for possessing drugs, they wanted to take me to Krivoy Rog and imprison me, and I was glad to go because I was tired of living the way I was.
However, after I was released from prison, I returned to living the same way. I was tired of such a life and was waiting for the time I would die.
It happened that one cold February evening I met a friend in the street – my former classmate and companion in drug use. After he saw me he said, “This must be the reason why I ended up travelling by foot in such cold weather.” He told me that he had not taken drugs for three years. He attended church and Alcoholics’ Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous self-support groups in that church. He invited me to join him and I accepted his invitation.
My wife, my son, and I pray, thanking God for everything we have
After the first meeting, I began praying to God every evening, asking him to help me not to take drugs for a month. Moreover, my friend invited me to go to church. After the church service we went for a walk and he told me about God. I started regularly attending the church services and the meetings. At the meetings, I learned about a rehab centre in Poltava. I was eager to go there and prayed about it every evening. However, the police did not allow me to leave the city. They said, “What have you devised? What treatment? One of these days we will come after you.”
It took a month to set at rest the question of me leaving the city. The church I attended interceded for me and I was allowed to go. At the Poltava centre, a GNU pastor came to us. He gave me a Bible as a gift. Although I have another Bible now, that one still remains my favourite. After I underwent a course of treatment at the rehab centre, I started attending the church in Krivoy Rog where I was later baptised.
Now, I have a wife and a son who attend the church with me. My son goes to the Pre-Kindergarten at our church. I performed my service in the Narcotics Anonymous’ group in our church. The group’s meetings are conducted twice a week.
A year ago, together with the Poltava rehab centre’s team, I opened a branch of the rehab centre in Krivoy Rog where I work as the director.
I love God. My wife, my son, and I pray, thanking God for everything we have and receive. I am happy that my wife and my son love our church and attend the church service with joy.
Praise God for my family and such a life.
– Sergey (Edited by Ella Rodionoff)