Here is another testimony of a young man from our church in St. Petersburg, Street Cry:
Roman is 31 and a second year student in our school of ministry. He plays drums on our worship team and participates as a drummer and a passionate evangelist in a couple other Christian bands doing evangelism concerts in clubs and on the streets of St. Petersburg and other cities. Here is his story:
“I was 15 years old when a music group started forming in my high school and I asked to be a part. No one could really play an instrument but we all had a lot of zeal and a great passion for learning. That sufficed. As probably does every musician each one of us wanted to become popular and famous, have money and fans, especially if they are girls.
At the same time, we had a more noble motivation, at least I did. I felt that there is power in music and it influences the hearts of people. I wanted to bring people joy, love… So one of us could play guitar – just a couple chords, the other studied bass. Honestly speaking, I really wanted to be a lead guitar player in our band but I was asked to be a drummer and so I agreed.
Somehow, our attempts to play music attracted the attention and touched the heart of one professional musician who began really teaching us. We began with “The Beatles” songs and became successful. But as it often happens among musicians pride entered in and hit a fatal blow at our unity. As a result, our promising band fell apart.
But I did not want to give up and continued in the realm of music. The type of music I played changed with the changes in my own character. Rock is not just a style of music. It is a way of living. So as I began playing rock, speedily my life began shaping accordingly.
We, young St. Petersburg musicians, did not just play, but we carried and promoted the idea, the lifestyle. The lifestyle that consisted of lots of occult, vodka, drugs, sex, motorcycles, fights and utter denying of and rebellion against everything that was not like us. The collective debauchery and high were followed by fits of depression and despair at the times when I was alone and had nobody to look cool in front of. Surely all that found its expression in our music.
As for motorcycles, it is a sheer miracle that I am still alive – usually we resorted to driving them when we could not walk because of how drunk and drugged we were. The last such band I was a part of was called “Odin” according to an old Scandinavian “god” (demon) we worshipped. The music we played was pure doom, pain and cruelty. The adolescent ideas of bringing people love and joy by the power of music buried long before, I kept degrading further and further into satan worship.
Strictly speaking, I did not consider myself a satanist, because I did not participate in physical sacrifices and rituals done by some of my friends. However, I certainly dressed like one, hated Christianity, as I knew it – mostly by people attending orthodox temples, kissing icons, burning candles and outside of that living lives that were far away from God. I considered it the utmost hypocrisy, so turning to Christ was never an option for me. Besides, now I can see that by playing the kind of music we played I definitely brought “the sacrifices” of praise and worship to demons that controlled our lives and music, thus empowering them to destroy us and our listeners even more.
One day my friends invited me to join them at a coffeehouse where the coffee was free. The fact that it was a Christian coffeehouse somehow escaped my ears. When we entered the place, I immediately felt an unusual atmosphere, like nowhere else we visited before.
We sat at a table and fellowshipped over a cup of coffee, then a girl named Anya approached me and asked if she could talk to me separately. I agreed, left my friends and occupied a different table with this girl.
At that time I had many friends, even close friends but for some reason I felt like opening my heart to this girl and share my life with her. In response, she very simply told me about the Lord. My first reaction was: “Religion?! No! Thanks! That is not for me! I am a long-haired musician, etc…”
That evening, I remembered it to the date – October 19th, 1996, I discussed many things with Anya, but the thing that stuck with me the most was the fact that God loved me. It blew my mind. How could it happen? How could it be? I doubted that anybody at all could love me the way I was… My friends were ready to leave the coffeehouse and called me to join them but I decided to stay and stayed until it was closed.
After that, my new acquaintance and I went home together – I discovered that we were neighbors and lived closely. We kept talking and my understanding of God kept changing. I realized that there is a vast difference between the dead religion, I so hated, and the living vibrant personal relationship with Jesus, that Anya so brightly exhibited.
Back home I could not go to bed and sleep, so I stood all night at an open window, smoked, looked in the sky and thought: “God, are you there? Do you really exist? Could it be that you really love me? Could you help me, please?”
In a couple of days I dropped in to the same coffeehouse again. Anya was there, she led me in a prayer of repentance, where I gave my life to Jesus. Maybe I did not understand all it entailed but I realized that I needed to do it: ask God for forgiveness of sins and dedicate my life to Him. I followed her in prayer.
From that moment on everything began changing. I was coming from death to life. Out of the pain of rejection I was experiencing joy again that I had not felt for a long time and nearly forgot what it felt like. Out of the shades of gray and black, the world around me was turning colorful again.
Some time went by and one day my old friends invited me to a concert where they were the main performers. I accepted. Besides lots of friends, it was lots of vodka involved in the event. The party went on but I discovered that this kind of fun did not bring me any pleasure any more. I was different. Different on the inside. Some of my friends started a fight. It was literally sickening for me.
As I walked home after this concert, I knew in my heart that I did something that was not pleasing to God. I immediately started asking Him to forgive me and help me to avoid such things in the future. The joy filled my heart after this prayer and peace flooded my mind, peace that I did not experience for a long time. Since then I never got back to the paths of old. I made a clean break with my old life.
Then I came to a church service. It transformed my view of Christianity – I saw people who took God seriously. I decided that if God is real with me I want to be real with Him. I wanted to dedicate my life completely to Christ and radically follow Him. I got rid of my old music, t-shirts with the images of the old idols, posters, magazines, books on the occult… I simply fell in love with Jesus!
On the outside I was pretty much the same – long hair and a leather jacket but I knew that God is looking on my heart. And my heart I gave to Him. I told everybody about Jesus! Many of my friends did not understand me, of course, many rejected me, and thought that I lost my mind or that somebody hypnotized me. But I was the happiest man on the face of the earth. If only somebody “hypnotized” me like this before! I could have avoided so many horrible events! But no, it was not hypnotism, neither a sect. I simply came to my Loving Father God.
I simply met Jesus who loved me and went to the cross for my sins to be forgiven. My friends had a chance to receive new life too. But many of them rejected it. One of them, Kostya, who was a lead guitarist and a song-writer for “Odin”, died of cirrhosis of the liver. He was a heavy drug user and contracted hepatitis C. The doctors warned him of the grave consequences of his lifestyle. Once he was rushed to intensive care unit by ambulance and I visited him there to pray for his healing. In His mercy, God touched him and he recovered to the great surprise of the doctors but continued to reject and mock my newly found faith and shortly died at a drunken party organized for his 18th birthday.
The pain I experienced still motivates me to relentlessly bring the Gospel to the young people – the kind like I was before. It is scary to watch how the devil is destroying the lives of many talented young musicians and literally killing them. Kostya was not the first and unfortunately not the last one. But he did not have to die. I have dedicated my life to making sure that as many young people as possible can get a chance to choose life with God instead of death without Him!” (In the photo on the right – Roma plays drums at evangelism concert in the park with his band).
This article is excerpted from the StreetCry Newsletter. More about the ministry is available at www.streetcry.blogspot.com. Please visit their site and support their work.