How I Escaped from East Ukraine and Came to Jesus – Oleg’s Story
Mar 6, 2015 2016
My name is Oleg. I am 25 years old and I lived in a town near Luhansk in Eastern Ukraine. One day in late August 2014. I went to work, and when I came home, separatist rebels had shelled the apartment block I lived in. Under the rubble was my mother, who had been killed, together with many other people – over one hundred.
When the rescue teams arrived to rescue people and look for survivors, the separatist rebels would not allow them to do their work. The rebels fired a warning shot, and they only allowed the rescue teams to look for survivors the next day. In this way they showed their superiority and that they were control.
I had a grandfather in Poltava in Central Ukraine and so I decided to travel there. It took me three weeks to get to the city of Poltava. I got there by walking and by travelling on the platforms of the freight cars in the open.
When I arrived in Poltava I went to look for my grandfather and I found out that he had died six months earlier. I was all by myself and did not know what to do.
Some people on the street told me to go to the monastery to see if I could find a job there or find some food, but the priest there said that it was a women’s monastery and they didn’t have any jobs there. However, the priest fed me and gave me 20 hryvnia (approximately $1.00).
This money did not go far, and I didn’t know where to go. So I spent time sleeping on the night trains.
Then I went to an Orthodox church and saw some people working there, and I offered my help. They said no, but they heard my story and they gave me a hat, because it was winter and it was very cold.
I was very hungry and had not eaten for two or three days. I went to buy something in the store and I saw a yellow piece of paper that when I read it, I saw that it was a job offer. It was offering free housing in return for someone taking care of pigs.
I called them, and they said OK. At first it went well. But then I started having problems. The man stopped giving me food and money. The same man also ran a carpentry business, so I also worked for him there. He didn’t pay me anything, but he gave me a free bed. He also had some grain for feeding his pigs. I took some grain and I tried to cook it to make a cereal, but it didn’t come out very well. The man caught me doing this and began yelling at me that I had stolen from the animals and left the pigs hungry. He had 15 tonnes of grain and I had taken only less than a kilo.
There was another refugee family staying with him from the Luhansk area. A pastor had called them on the telephone, inviting them to come to some meetings about the gospel. This refugee family said to me, “Come with us. Maybe you will get some help.” When I went to the meetings and the pastor gave us some food. Finally it was enough food for my hunger. Even this other refugee family, who had four children, was fed.
The refugee family moved out because they were able to rent an apartment, but I stayed with the carpenter. I talked with the pastor about Bible studies, and he put me in touch with another man who could give me Bible studies. I was staying on the outskirts of the city. And my employer said, “Well, if you need to go somewhere, you can go, but I am not going to give you money to pay for your bus fare. You can walk if you want.”
I was hungry and weak, and at that time I despaired and I thought that I would not be able to make it into the city to learn about the gospel. I always carried a prayer written down with me and I read this prayer before going to bed. At that time I felt better. So in the morning I did walk into the city, and as I walked, I read this prayer and it strengthened me. It took me six hours to walk the 32 kilometres into the city to study the Bible.
And so I came into the city to learn about the gospel, and the man who studied the Bible with me gave me money so that I could catch the bus home and to travel to have more Bible studies with him. He was kind and he also gave me something to eat.
Finally my employer said, “Get out of here!” It was winter and very cold. The man with whom I was studying the Bible said to me, I know a man who can help. He has a job and a place to stay. And so I went to him and I have been with him until this day. All of these people helped me. If not for them, I don’t know where my life would be. Everybody helped with what they could.
I have a cancer of the thyroid, and now I have to go to Kiev for surgery, and I have decided to be baptised. This is a bad case of cancer and I would like to be under God’s protection when I travel to Kiev.
It was so hard at some points in my experience that I thought I would die. I was in so much danger, and I suffered so much hunger. However, I believe that God has sent me trials to strengthen me. And now I have given my life to Jesus Christ.
I know that many people who will read my story live in countries where there is safety. I would like to wish for believers everywhere in the world to never experience what war is really like, and what its devastation and destruction is all about.
My fellow-believers should know that our Almighty God helps us, and regardless of the trials he may send. I lost my mother and I lost my home. I have nothing.
When things like this happen, you can be tempted to think, “Why do you need to live like this. It is better to kill yourself.” I had my struggles, but now everything is OK.
I love the Word of God. When I read it, I feel like what it is saying is really taking place in my life, so I really understand what it is talking about, because I am living it. I want to live for Him, not just to do Him lip service, but to be always with Him. The Word of God gives me faith to believe that no matter what trial may come in the future, I am a child of God, and I am loved.
Note by Eliezer Gonzalez – Oleg shared this story with me and with Dr Philip Rodionoff just a few minutes before his baptism. Immediately after he shared this story with us, I had the privilege of sharing a gospel message with him and those who had gathered together to witness his baptism. Oleg was then baptised into the Kingdom of God on 3 March 2015. Until his departure for Kiev, Oleg had been eagerly coming to the gospel evangelism meetings being held by myself and Philip. Good News Unlimited made a financial contribution towards Oleg’s travel to Kiev for treatment for his cancer.