Here is another personal testimony from our church in Russia, Street Cry —
We would like to share with you the testimony of a man who graduated from StreetCry School of Ministry. You will see not only how he came out of 18 years of heroin addiction to the saving knowledge of Christ, but also what the Lord has done in him and through him since. Here is Leonid’s story:
I was born in 1958 into a normal family. At 13 I got very active in sports. At 16 I began to make money. Crime became a way of life for me. My “business” was to steal from tourists who came to visit St Petersburg. I came up with many ways of doing that. I was athletic and considered myself smart. It was easy to grab a handbag from someone and run. At 19 during one of these “operations” I ran into a dead end street where the police caught me. I was sentenced to 3 years in prison.
In prison I smoked drugs for the first time. Then later I injected heroin for the first time. All the horrible things I heard about drugs at that point seemed to me not true but when I got out of prison at the age of 23 I was addicted. I thought I’d be able to control using drugs but before I knew it drugs were controlling me. After 8 months
I was back in prison for theft. This time for 4 years in a strict regime. When I got out I decided to live a different life.
I got invited to participate in a promising business. I had plenty of money and no need to get involved in crime. I thought I’d never be in prison again but I was in prison already – the prison of drug addiction. If you are a drug addict you can’t live a normal life. I tried **** my own to fight this devilish affliction. At first I was hiding it from those around me and on occasion I invited doctors to my house, paid money, they’d clean up my body but in a few months I’d be back to the needle.
Time went by, I grew older and in order to clean up my body I had to go through treatment in a hospital. I was ready to pay any amount of money but deliverance from drugs was just not a thing I could buy. I lost my job but I didn’t even care. I was going down, down, down. My wife lost hope that I’d be able to do anything with my drug addiction and left me. Very soon the only thing I showed any interest in was heroin.
Life made no sense, nothing gave me joy, I could find peace nowhere, no one really loved me, I loved no one. Finally, I told myself that death is the best way out. On October 31, 1998 – my 40th birthday – I went to my country house with enough heroin to kill me – more than 2 grams, plus a liter of vodka and a pack of very strong sleeping pills. I had no fear, no regrets.
I wanted to die. I took this deathly mixture but in 2 days found myself still alive.
I did not die physically but inside I was dead. I felt neither joy nor sorrow, I had no plans. I had no understanding how should I live any longer. I moved just out of habit I had no hope. Again, I paid to get myself into a detox clinic. In two weeks, I got out and went straight to buy heroin. I lost all emotions. I lived like a wicked wind up doll ready to commit any crime for a dose.
I was telling everyone about my attempt to commit a suicide. I told my doctor who’d been trying to help me for many years and asked him: “What shall I do?” He suggested a more sure way of quitting my life – he suggested I find a building as high as possible and jump off, he assured me this would work. One day I was sitting in the apartment of some other addicts I knew, when a men came in and after hearing my story about suicide suggested help.
I did not believe my ears when he told me there is a Christian drug rehab center in the village of Sablino near St. Petersburg and he can help me get into it for free. In just a few days we went there.
Most of all I was concerned about withdrawals. But the guys in the center told me I would not have any because they would pray for me.
At first, I thought there was something wrong with these guys’ heads but when they suggested that I should pray too I thought: “If God really exists and will help me I will be with Him to the end. And if not – it can’t be worse than now”. So on that day, I cried out to God for help…
And guess what?! I DID NOT have any withdrawals. I slept like a baby. God did an absolute miracle. And it was just the beginning because God does exceedingly abundantly above of what we ask or think. One night in the rehab center, I was spending time in prayer, and the Holy Spirit touched me in such a mighty way that it is impossible to describe in words.
He completely changed my life. He completely changed me. I was born again. Since then 11 years have gone by and I never had a desire to do drugs ever again.
My past was as hopeless as could be. Everybody wrote me off. I wrote myself off. I did not see any way out of my nightmare. I thought I had no chances to have a different kind of life. But there was a chance. And this chance is there for everyone!
When the worst came to the worst in my life, when I saw no way out God was there for me. GOD ALMIGHTY! And He loved me so much that He gave His Son Jesus Christ to die! Jesus died but rose again and by His death, He paid for all my sins and mistakes. I cannot thank Him enough for this wonderful chance to receive forgiveness, to get set free from bondage and start from scratch a new life without sin!
During my time in the rehab center, I fell in love with Jesus. It became my dream to serve Him with all of my life. So in August of 1999 I finished the course of my rehabilitation, got water baptized in September and in October went to the StreetCry School of Ministry for two years.
At the same time, I lived and ministered in the rehab center, which I graduated from.
In December of 2001 God gave me a wonderful wife Olga (in the photo on the right) – we are together already for more than 8 years.
At the end of 2002, I participated in planting a church in Sablino village near St. Petersburg and served as its pastor for a couple years, training new believers. Later I gave the pastorate over to my assistant (the church is thriving to this day) and in 2005 Olga and I went as missionaries to Dagestan for a year. It is a part of Russia situated in the mountains near the Black sea and is populated mostly by Muslims.
In Dagestan we served under the leadership of Ruslan Kornev – the man who originally brought me to the rehab center and was my overseer helping me to take my first steps in Jesus. In the past, we were buddies in the drug scene of St. Petersburg but now – co-workers in the fields of our Lord! During the first 6 months in Dagestan we helped Ruslan to start a rehab center and the other 6 months – helped to start a church in a small town of Kizlyar. While in Dagestan we not only served but also studied in a mission school “Gospel to Islamic cultures”
At the end of 2006, we returned to St. Petersburg and God really strongly put it on my heart in prayer that I must focus on helping drug addicts like I used to be in the past.
So in April of 2007 one sister in Christ offered her house in Chernevo village of Pskovsky region for these purposes and I began a small rehab center there. As we had more and more guys coming in for rehabilitation we filled the house pretty fast and in May of 2008 we opened another center – in Popovka village near St. Petersburg (see the photo on the left). We named it “There is a way out”.
In September of 2008, a church in Pskov bought another house for us and we started one more center and called it “Harvest”.
In June of 2009, we bought a house in a small town of Porhov in Pskovsky region and started the fourth center there called “Rebirth”. We also rented 2 flats in Pskov – one is now a home for men who went through rehabilitation and are continuing a drug-free life. The other is a newly founded and developing women’s drug rehab center. And I believe that it is only beginning!
According to the official statistics of the Federal Department for Preventing Illegal Drugs now in Russia every year more than 80,000 new people are becoming drug addicts. Every year about 30,000 people die of drug abuse. 4% of the Earth’s population lives in Russia, yet Russia consumes 20% of all the heroin in the world. The harvest is plenteous the laborers are few. Pray to the Lord of the harvest to send more laborers, more support to this field.
Right now, my wife and I have 3 other leaders and 9 leadership trainees (some of them you can see in the photo on the right) helping us to run the existing homes and I believe that as the new leaders grow, we will be opening more new homes! Right now we are taking care of 50 men.