Running In The Right Direction – Stryi, Ukraine
Apr 26, 2017 1941
I liked going to church with my grandparents when I was young. But then I fell into the wrong crowd. I started taking drugs as a teenager, and later organized a criminal gang that had twenty people. When I got married, I went abroad to work, but I actually went there for drugs. I didn’t understand God. I thought that if I won at the casino or stole without begin caught, he was helping me.
But one day everything in my life changed. At that time I was the only one in my gang who wasn’t in prison. I broke into a flat and remember realising that I was all alone. I did not even have anybody to rob with. So once I left the flat, I put my SIM card into my cell phone and switched it on. I always kept it switched off as most of my friends were arrested because the police had traced them through their phones. There was a call within five minutes. It surprised me that someone would try calling me because my phone was always off. It was my friend Volodia who said, “Andrii, I have been sober for 78 days. Come to Poltava and receive treatment here”.
I made up my mind to go. I confessed to my parents that I had been taking drugs since I was a teenager and they were shocked. Then I went to Poltava. But it was to run away from the police and criminals who were after me. I did not go to be treated. While there, I snuck drugs. A friend of mine, Vova, visited me, but when he saw I was still taking drugs he just turned around and walked away. He was the only person close to me left and he didn’t even talk to me.
So I decided to try living without drugs and held out for two days. Then I became angry and demanded to be discharged from the hospital. My friend came and asked me, “Where will you go? What are you going to do?” I thought about that all night long. There was a poster on the door with the Serenity Prayer. I read it about 50 times. I remembered my childhood and my family and made a decision to stay and continue the treatment.
I demanded to be discharged from hospital three more times but each time I stayed. I started feeling a spiritual thirst. Studying the Bible, given to me by a GNU pastor, made this thirst stronger. I went to the meetings held by the GNU pastor at the rehab centre, and wanting to know more, asked for additional studies.
I learned that God came to save sinners and that I don’t have to pray for forgiveness for years in order to convince God to forgive me. I’ve learned that forgiveness is a gift. I have become gentler, and have stopped getting angry and quarreling with everybody. I pray regularly. I still have a long way to go spiritually, but I have hope that God will help me.
I still have family problems. My wife does not believe that I am interested in my son and my mother believes that I must be stealing if I don’t ask her for money. And I am searching for a job and somewhere to live. But the only thing I can do is get to know God patiently, to thank him and believe that he will provide everything I need.
– Andrii (Edited by Ella Rodionoff)