From Death to Life – A Siberian Testimony
I was born in 1974 in a small village in Siberia near the city of Tumen. My name is Vitali. When I look back on my childhood I cannot remember a single happy day. This was because both my parents were alcoholics. My father hardly ever worked and when he did all the money, or most of it, went on drink. Fighting, shouting and screaming were regular events in our home.
When I went to school I was unable to make any progress as my mother was never in a fit state to help me. Our teacher, who knew all about my home life, consequently expected nothing at all from me. Even today, I wonder how I didn’t end up in prison. This is because after I finished school I consorted with wicked youths on the streets of my village. By this time my parents had divorced and I began to drink as heavily as my father had done. I had no profession so I couldn’t work, no, and I didn’t want to work.
Finally, my mother kicked me out of the house and I had nowhere to live. Being alone and homeless I looked for some place to live. It was then that I took up with a girl whose manner of life was just like mine, and I moved in with her. Several times we tried to reform ourselves found work and earned some money, but it never lasted long and we started drinking again. There was no church where we lived so we never heard anything about the Lord Jesus Christ and didn’t want to. Sometimes it seemed that our life was getting a bit better, but it always proved illusory.
In 2004 my wife became seriously ill due to the kind of life we were living. Instead of stopping drinking, and receiving treatment, she raged against everything in her life. In my grief and despair I almost managed to stop drinking myself, but I was powerless to stop her and in a short time she died. I was left without a roof over my head, without money, and without hope. I no longer wanted to live and I became a vagrant once more.
I decided it would be easier to survive in the city, so I moved to Tumen. I found a room in a basement and began to beg on the streets. One evening as usual, I was on the streets looking for something to eat when a young man approached me and asked me if I liked living this way. We began to talk – and for the first time in my life I felt that here was someone who was sincerely interested in me; I was surprised! He began to tell me about God and about his church and I began to tell him about my problems. He told me that his church in Tobolsk had a desire to help people like me in a practical way, if I was interested and really wanted to be helped. I accepted his offer and he bought me a ticket to go there.
I soon found myself in a small village outside Tobolsk. In one of the houses lived about twenty men in a similar situation to myself. I was made welcome and was surprised at the friendly atmosphere and the people’s sincerity. I found that there were men here whose lives had been even worse than mine had been. Life in the Centre began every day with prayers and Bible readings and, on Sundays we were taken to the service in the Tobolsk church.
I didn’t notice the change that was gradually taking place in my heart. I realised after several months that I had lost my desire for alcohol. After some time I turned to the Lord in repentance and later on was baptised; I had begun a new life! When people ask me how old I am I usually answer, ‘Four,’ even though I am now forty.
The life I lived formerly without God really wasn’t a life at all, just painful existence! After two years at the Centre I moved to a hostel whose purpose was to help us adapt to everyday life. Here I was taught a builder’s basic skills and soon found a permanent job. I am regularly attending church and our house-group. I am so thankful to God and to our brothers who ‘found’ me and led me to Christ. My mouth is always open to witness to those who are perishing without Christ. My heart overflows with gratitude to God for giving me this spiritual rebirth and a new life in him.
Vitali’s pastor, Valeri Boichenko of the Tumen church, writes on 6th March 2014 and says,
By such experiences God is inspiring us to do everything possible to expand and develop this ministry. Please remember to pray for us at this difficult time for our country. For me also, because I come from Ukraine and am seeking Russian citizenship in order to stay and work in Tumen.
Taken with permission from The Slav Lands Christian Fellowship, Spring 2014.
Secretary: Roger Weil, 28 Hayesford Park Drive, Bromley, BR2 9DB
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