LEONID LEGKOV — Set Free

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. Continue reading

Zhenya Kopushu

Zhenya Kopushu is one of the young ladies who lives with us in Russia. She’s working in a hospital for abandoned children.  She is praying about being one of the counselors when we build Immanuel Children’s Home (more about that later).

Below is some news from her from our church’s website.

NEW MINISTRY – TO ABANDONED CHILDREN IN THE HOSPITAL

Zhenya Kopushu graduated from the StreetCry School of Ministry in 2004. Since then she worked as the Russian language and literature teacher in the Harvest Christian School, served as children’s pastor in our church and is currently heading intercession.

This year the Lord opened doors for Zhenya to minister in Tsimbalina hospital for abandoned children. Here are some of the most recent testimonies from her work there:

“For several months we prayed for doors to open. The Lord touched the hearts of the doctors to receive us favorably, even though it is a rare case in Russia that hospitals would be open to Christian workers coming to help with the sick, to pray and preach the Gospel.

Children are taken to this hospital from the streets and from broken homes of drug addicts, alcoholics, etc… Their parents do not care for them.

Every child’s story is heartbreaking. It still takes a lot of effort on my part to hold back the tears while I am in the hospital – I do weep though a lot, as I intercede for the children later at home. Every child has experienced malnutrition, severe beatings, often times even rape.

In addition to many sicknesses, they suffer from loneliness, rejection and fear of the future, which for most of them is uncertain.

At best, it’s a Russian orphanage with very little true concern from the heart, for these children…

They are hungry for love. When I come, they run to me, take me by the hands, call me Mom and do not let me go. At the end of every visit, they ask me to take them home with me and I just wish I could – I want to take them all.”

Here is just one of many stories:

Masha Orehova, 10 years old  was brought to the hospital from a home where both mother and father are alcoholics. I first met her a couple months ago.

She crawled to me on the floor, called me Auntie – her look was so miserable, and voice so faint that everything inside of me crumbled with pain. The same evening the doctors described her background.

When she was 5 years old, her father being drunk threw her out of a 5th storey window. She survived but her backbone was badly damaged.

She was bed-ridden for a long time and eventually lost her ability to walk. Nevertheless, she was given back to the same parents again. Both mother and father kept regularly beating her up and father even raping her.

Finally, the authorities started the process of taking parental rights away from them, and Masha was placed in Tsimbalina hospital. Her first several nights in this hospital she refused to sleep in a bed but crawled under it to hide herself and slept there – she was bound by fear of everyone.

In the doctors and nurses, she saw a threat rather than people trying to help her. She looked at them as if she were a small wolf, hungry and fierce, ready to bite.

It is scary for me just to try to imagine the emotional and physical torment she has been going through all these years – I understood that only God could touch and restore her broken heart and broken body, giving her hope and a future.

I began regularly praying for Masha and telling her about Jesus. I told her that Jesus loves her and wants the best for her.

Slowly she started changing, fear was gone, and she began smiling as she saw me come. Every time I came, she asked me to tell her more about Jesus.

Faith was birthing in her heart.

Toys and games were not so important – all she wanted to do was lay there and listen to me speaking about Jesus. During Christmas, we brought presents to Masha as well as all the other children in the hospital. She was so happy – thanking God for all!

She wanted me to read her the story of how Jesus was born over and over again until she was able to repeat it herself.

Very recently, Masha received Jesus into her heart – I prayed together with her. Please join me in prayer for Masha’s complete restoration and for her future, for God’s will and plan to be done in her life rather than the devil’s plan for destruction.

Zhenya is seriously considering and praying through the idea of opening a small family type Christian orphanage where she and several other girls from our church, driven by the similar concerns and currently involved in different capacities in ministering to suffering children, could live and take such children in who have nowhere else to go, providing them with the atmosphere of God’s love, salvation, restoration, healing, hope and a future.

Missions to the Far North

Here is an update from Street Cry, our church in St. Petersburg.  Please visit the Street Cry site to learn more about the great work that God is doing through the ministry.

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01Our School of Ministry graduate and missionary to the Far North of Russia, Arkady Ledkov (photo on the left; we wrote about his evangelistic work among the nomadic people of the north in the March 2009 issue of our newsletter) spent the summer of evangelism with us in St. Petersburg actively participating in all of the street evangelism events. Then after the summer season ended here, he joined a team of Canadian missionaries for his next trip with the Gospel to the nomads of the tundra. Here is his report:

02This time we started from Salekhard city – the capital of Yamalo-Nenetsky Autonomous Region.  The goal of this trip was to visit new believers who accepted Christ during our previous trips, encourage them in the Lord and bring humanitarian aid to them.  At the same time, we purposed to visit new villages where no one preached the Gospel yet.

Therefore, we rented a boat and went down the Ob River from one small village to another, from one camp of reindeer shepherds to another.  There are actually no roads or way to reach them besides the Ob River.

It was a wonderful time!  We fellowshipped with the reindeer shepherds; they hospitably received us in their tents (called “chooms” in the local language) and introduced us to their families.  We showed the Jesus film and distributed evangelistic literature. God’s presence went with us. And the nomads opened not only their homes but also their hearts to us!

In one place, we were guests of a family of seven and as a result of our visit, all of them repented and accepted Christ as their Lord and Savior. I cannot adequately describe the joy that we all experienced! Continue reading

Testimony from Street Cry

Here is another great testimony from the work Street Cry is doing in Estonia:

We continue to have meetings in a women’s prison every Friday night, preaching the Gospel to the unsaved and equipping the new believers by teaching on the basics of Christian life, praise and worship, prayer, and personal relationship with Jesus.

As a result, the girls who are the most serious about the Lord started getting together every day 2 hours before dinner for a time of worship, prayer for each other’s needs and reading the Bible together. They invite whosever will come! N. who got saved during one of the meetings, is now sharing the full version of her testimony:

“I was born into and grew up in a good, I would even say practically an ideal family. My parents were both doctors, very intelligent, with high morals and they did their best to instill positive things into my wonderful sister and I.

Nevertheless, I remember growing up with a strange feeling that there must be more to life than what I had. I have always been looking for something… Something I could not even define, but I knew I would recognize it when I found it..

At 18, I graduated from high school with honors and then entered medical college to be a paramedic. After graduation, my parents helped me to get a good job and gave me an apartment. Soon I got married to a nice caring man and over the years, we had 5 sons. Life was going good, except for the feeling, ‘there must be something more…’

Then I met another man… we had an affair, later he introduced me to methamphetamine… It all definitely felt very thrilling…at first. But before I knew it, I had turned into an addict and a drug dealer and everything else that goes with this way of life… Continue reading

More Good News from Street Cry

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Our church, StreetCry, continues to do great work in St. Petersburg. Here is a portion of the most recent update. Please visit the church site to learn more about the ministry.

Our School of Ministry graduates Natasha Bakshaeva and Kirill Borodichuk (you may read their testimonies in the March 2009 and December 2008 issues of our newsletter) have a burning desire to bring the Gospel to young people lost in homosexuality just like they were before encountering the transforming power of Jesus.  So they go witnessing to the places where such kids hang out in St. Petersburg.

Recently they met a girl named Nastya who came from Moscow to St. Petersburg University to study. Nastya was touched by their testimonies and genuine interest in her life. She came to our evangelism coffee-house, then to a mid-week service and repented of her sins and accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. God is changing her day by day. Now she often joins us in witnessing during our street concerts.

It has become more ‘exciting and challenging’ this year to conduct street evangelism concerts – as the official permission from the government (which has been required for several years) has been declined numerous times, and when the odd time occurs that we do get permission, the authorities have come to the concerts trying to find fault in our permits.

But with a lot of prayer, faith and perseverance the band and personal evangelism teams continue to go out preaching the gospel. As a result hundreds continue to hear the message of the Kingdom and many are responding and getting saved.

After one concert our worship leader Nastya Bosonogova (in the photo on the right) spent 3 hours talking to a girl visiting from Murmansk named Yulia. Yulia is a vocalist, too and sings in her college band.

Here is some of her story: Continue reading

Irina — A life reborn in Christ

Our church, Street Cry, is starting a ministry in Tallinn, Estonia. Here is the testimony of a young lady, Irina, who came to faith through their prison ministry:

“I was born into a family of unbelievers and that is why I never heard about Jesus.

The only godly thing I remember from my childhood is my grandmother telling me that up there, there is someone who would judge and punish people for their sins.

Violence ruled our household. My father was an alcoholic and constantly beat up my mother and myself. I grew up as a fearful little beast fighting everything and everyone around me.

I quickly learned the principle that attack is the best defense which I actively practiced in school and in relationships. I was very aggressive.

When I turned 12 my Dad left me and Mom for another woman. In my heart I branded him a traitor and all my life hated him for the pain he inflicted on me and Mom.

But moreover – this hatred was directed towards any male figure that would appear in my life. I lacked social skills and was not capable of building a healthy relationship. Continue reading

A Postcard from Russia — Dedication of Mira

Four yeas ago I  officiated the wedding of Maxim and Anya Zakharov. Two years later they asked me to oversee their dedication of their first born girl, Pelegea. This week they asked me to do the same for their second daughter, Miroslava (who is a real cutie, above). It’s a blessing to have been here long enough to share in their lives as they grow and change.

Olga has been teaching English classes. She started teaching just a few folks, and it’s grown into quite a group. Now she has several people from Street Cry attending classes a couple of times a week.

We had our first ‘event’ at Elama. Crimson Sails, a Christian shelter in St. Pete, took their kids for a cookout yesterday. This was my first visit to Elama this spring, and things were better than I expected since no one had checked on the place all winter. Someone had broken into two of the buildings and used them for sleeping and eating (I think it must have been ice fisherman during the winter). But overall everything is in pretty good shape.

In a week we’ll head off to Montenegro to be with a team from the University of Georgia for two weeks. Then we’ll visit friends and ministry partners in Hungary and Belarus.

Here’s a word from Olga: This year has been very good. We have seen a lot of life happening around us. God has blessed us with new relationships. I’ve enjoyed getting closer to people from our church and getting involved in church activities. Besides teaching English, I have been teaching single girls about married life, and it has been very rewarding and amazing. We do thank God for the life He’s given us.

God’s Love in Action

Olga and I have three young ladies from our church staying with us, Zhenya, Anna and Natasha.  I’ll post some pictures of our ‘new family’ soon.  Natasha works at Crimson Sails, a Christian children’s shelter.  Here’s one story of the way the Lord uses His people to save the lost. This is from Street Cry’s update

Dasha (in the photo at left) was sent to this Christian shelter by her district police station officer.

Her alcoholic mom’s alcoholic boyfriend attacked Dasha with a knife.  She managed to escape almost without injuries with her grandmother’s assistance. With no time to even get dressed properly, and without a coat or boots, this young child ran through the snow and frost to the police for help.

As the police inspected Dasha’s home, they found a destroyed apartment, with almost everything sold in order to buy alcohol.  There was no food and not only Dasha did not have a desk to do her school homework but she did not even have a bed where she could sleep.  The court case began by denying Dasha’s mom parental rights.  While the case proceeded, Dasha was placed in the Christian shelter.

Very soon, she received Jesus and began attending Sunday school at our church.

Continue reading

Arkady Ledkov

Here is some news from our church, Street Cry, about one of our members —

Arkady Ledkov (photo on left) has been part of our church, ministry and staff for a number of years.  Several months ago we sent him out with the laying on of hands to reach the people of his ancestry.

Arkady was born in a small Nenets (a national minority) village of Karataika in the Arkhangelsk region – the far North of Russia beyond the Polar circle.  His people are nomads, their main trades are still reindeer herding and fishing.

Nothing edible grows up there except for wild berries and mushrooms.  The villages are isolated from civilization – there are no roads to reach them. Continue reading

Kostya Protasov

Our church in St. Petersburg started (and continues) as a ministry to drug addicts and prostitutes.  In addition to street evangelism, city-wide worship services and other ministries, StreetCry has a two year School of Ministry.  Kostya is 26, currently in the second year of the program and is one of the leading evangelists in our church.

Here is his story:

My name is Kostya and I was typical of my generation.  Drug user, consumer, egoist – “mine, me, myself and I”  were the words describing my life credo.

Since I turned 13, my motto was “Take from life everything that it has to offer!”  Together with my friends I partied, went to discos, drank, smoked, used hash, etc… every day purposed to discover and experience something new.

I fell in love with the most beautiful girl in our class and – like in a fairy tale – she became mine.  We modeled our lives according to the latest Hollywood movies, only we were the main characters.

In the summer of 1997, I went to visit my friend in Voronezh region (south of Russia).  All summer we used hash and poppy that grew everywhere – we smoked, boiled and whatever. . . Continue reading