LIZA BACHI — Healing in Her Heart

Here is another personal testimony from our church, Street Cry, in St. Petersburg.

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Liza Bachi, 26, recently received her medical degree from a University in St. Petersburg and works as a cardiologist in Mariinskaya hospital of St. Petersburg. God often moves through her in the gift of healing.

She has a heart of compassion and love, which moves her to intercession for the poor, needy, sick, for people who do not know Jesus yet. She is a big blessing for everyone she comes in contact with. Here is her story:

image011I initially accepted Jesus in 2001 at the age of 17. Growing up in a Jewish family, I knew religion as a set of rules to obey. But when I began to ask myself questions like “Who is God? Why do I live?” that set of rules did not give me any satisfactory answers.

But one day my close friend Nastya Tsarevskaya (see her testimony in November 2008 issue of our newsletter) told me that she became a Christian. I saw drastic changes in her and wanted to know more about it. Thus, I ended up going to her church. Once the service ended in an altar call for repentance – I came out and prayed the sinner’s prayer led by the pastor.

Still for quite a while, I stayed religious as opposed to having a vibrant personal relationship with God. May be because I was always a good girl and even after praying the sinner’s prayer, I did not have an understanding that I cannot live Godly life by my own strength. Time went by.

I attended church, prayers, outreaches – because it was proper. Not even noticing how I was turning my newly found faith into just a set of new rules to obey…

At the same time, I studied medicine in a university. One guy in our group was direct opposite of me. I was a believer – straight, good and righteous and he smoked, drank, partied and skipped lectures more often than not… Nevertheless, we kept company and were buddies for a year and a half. Sometimes looking at him, I thought that he was leading a more honest life following his basic instincts than I did trying to obey my rules. Continue reading

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

Valera Pavlov — A Life

By Le Ann Dakake, director of New Horizons for Children, a hosting program for Russian orphans –

n57702888_30198416_2635In the fall of 1986 a baby boy, Valera Pavlov, was born to a young married couple in the small village of Chubaksari, Russia. He was the 2nd child born of their 3 children and everyone was quite happy! However, in the height of the Soviet Union rule, the family did what they could do survive and lived day to day making money to buy food and maintain a place to live.

Communism was a part of their everyday life, and while it promised equality and provisions among all, not everyone actually received the care and support that was broadcast to the world in government’s propaganda. A couple of years later, the couple gave birth to a daughter as well, bringing the family to 5.

Soon after the arrival of Valera’s sister, while trying to survive and provide for his growing family, the father was forced to take on odd jobs working on other’s farms to make ends meet

In 1991, Valera’s father took him, at about the age of 5, to tag along for a day’s work on a farm to chop wood. This had become a normal part of Valera’s life as mom was now at home with his toddler sister. On these days, Valera would entertain himself while his dad plowed fields, watered farm animals, sheered sheep, butchered hogs, milked cows, did simple repairs or like today; he chopped wood for the coming winter.

At the end of the day, if the work was satisfactory, the family might invite them to have leftover dinner portions. On this particular day, the father’s work seemed satisfactory, so he and Valera were given some food to eat. After dinner, as is customary, the woman who owned the farm handed the boy’s father a glass of wine.

However, this day’s glass of wine was very unlike any previously offered to his dad. Apparently, the family didn’t have the money to pay for the day’s wages and some alternative was sought to get out of doing so.

Not quite understanding what he saw, Valera would later remember something: the woman took a thermometer, broke it, and poured some liquid from it into the glass of wine. She then handed it to his dad. Continue reading

Luba Timofeyeva

This was recently posted by friends of our, Charlie and Miki Chastain.  I’ve known Luba for many years.  She faithfully serves women in prison in Ryazan (in picture below).

I was a schoolteacher of history and a strong atheist.

I taught my students that the religion had been a deception and that exploiters had devised it in order to wield power over poor people.

I thought only about my family welfare and my work at school. I was sure that my lifestyle was good and virtuous and didn’t understand that I was a great sinner.

Life was not easy and was unpredictable.

My mom died from cancer at the age of 49. My brother was killed in Afghanistan at the age of 31. Even having my own family (a husband and two daughters) I often felt myself lonely and unhappy and started to think that there had to be more to life.

When the Soviet regime collapsed and many people rushed to Orthodox churches (we were not allowed to go to a church earlier), my younger daughter and I went there too. Later I had a desire to know about the real faith and wished to have the Bible.

It was in 1996 when I first heard about Jesus Christ and His gift of forgiveness and salvation. Two American ladies, believers, came to our school and had a meeting with the staff.  They showed us the Jesus Film, told us about the love of God and suggested to have a Bible study with us.

I and four more teachers started to visit the Bible study and at last could hold the Bible in our hands and read it. I was really interested in reading the Bible and later my knowledge of the Lord reached my heart and for the first time I felt the reverence for Him.

I repented and received Jesus into my heart. In 1998 at the age of 49 I was baptized.

The former atheist had become a Christian!

I am now a child of God inseparable from Him. Praise be to God!

And I am always very grateful to my American brothers and sisters in Christ that they’ve helped me to come to know God, that they helped us, Russian believers, to plant a church in Ryazan. And of course I understand that it is God who has made those amazing things possible.

God has blessed me abundantly with wonderful brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as with a wonderful family.

Charlie Chastain continues, “one of my fondest memories of Luba is one of the times she worked with us in St. Petersburg. Our team was staying at a guest flat owned by a ministry partner here in town – but the unique thing was that it had a large bookshelf full of Christian books: anything from novels to C.S. Lewis to deep theology. Luba was in heaven!

“She explained that access to this kind of literature in her town was next to nothing.  But because these books were only for the flat, she knew her opportunities were limited to dive in.

“So what did she do? At night, after all of our work was done, Luba would COPY these books by hand so that she’d have an opportunity to read them later.

“Ever since witnessing that, this has been one of the clearest examples to me of what desiring God looks like.”

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.

Nastya Shturmina — A New Life

streetcry-sm-logo Here is the story of a young woman from our church in St. Petersburg, Street Cry:

image010I am presently 26 years old. I come from Novorossiysk – a port on the Black Sea, but I have lived and traveled all over Russia.

Together with my brother, I grew up in a family where our father was an abusive alcoholic tyrant and our mom a workhorse for our family.

My conclusion about family life during those years of our father beating us all, and mother enduring, and trying to please everyone was that I WILL NEVER GET MARRIED. Why should I if the man in the family is a murderer and an adulterer while the woman is a silent slave who must endure everything plus keep four jobs to support the children and the husband’s drinking habits?!

If the world is such, I did not want to belong to this world.

So I left home at the age of 11 and began my quest for a different life.

Joining different groups of young people, I traveled the country. If no one opened a home to us, we slept in the parks, or in abandoned buildings. We hung out at rock concerts and made money by playing guitar and singing on the streets and on the subway and asking for donations.

From time to time, I visited Mom and Dad only to see that nothing had changed, so I had to go on the road again. I was really bitter and hated people, often using them for my own gain without any regrets for my behavior.

Life went on under the motto of sex, drugs and rock-n-roll. At some point, I became really interested in the occult, literally sold my soul to the devil, and did rituals, etc.

Sometimes I felt the horror side of it but curiosity won in every case and I continued on this road to hell. I did not think that hell in the afterlife could be any worse than the hell I was born into and grew up in. Continue reading

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