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Missionary Spotlight – Ukraine testimony

March 2004

My name is Aleksandr. I was born in western Ukraine and my childhood was typical of many who were educated by communist (Komsomol) pioneers. We were taught the non-existence of God and the essential greatness of man. After I had been to a Komsomol republican camp (‘Young Guards’) I became leader of the youth group council. I aspired to even higher leadership and thought myself very important.

Political college

While in the Ukrainian army I sought entrance into a prestigious military political college in the former Soviet Union. What was so satisfying to my pride was that I gained entrance without needing to ‘pull strings’ behind the scenes.

But then things began to take a different direction. While on leave, I met up with the girl I loved and realised (for reasons that I will not go into) that if I continued at the military college I would lose her. So I left the college.

As I reflect on this, I realise that my actions were driven by a desire for significance — to feel important and needed. All the while, God was secretly at work, controlling the direction of events.

Secret service

On returning home, I was invited to study at one of our training institutions, in its department of law, and then go on to work in the secret service. It was a tremendous surprise to me to receive such an offer — I had never dreamt of such an opening. It was also deeply satisfying to my ego. Here was prestigious work, giving me new significance, power, access to privileged information and the ability to manipulate people. As I engaged in this work it lifted me into a different kind of world, and I began to disregard my own family and those who had been dear to me. It encouraged me to live deceitfully; I enjoyed living a lie. I congratulated myself on being very secret, and thus very clever.

Humbled

But after some years I faced a series of devastating situations that I could not change or control, in spite of my high-ranking position. These situations humbled me. They made me feel guilty before people, and even before God.

By 1998 I felt deceived, wasted and broken, with many unsolved personal problems — including a ruined family life, the loss of my best friend (killed in a restaurant), and the beginnings of alcoholism. Somehow, I understood that I must turn to God.

Seeking God became a matter of supreme importance to me, even more important than human relationships. For the first time in my life I began to pray to God, to ask him to change my life from its deep selfishness.

Transformation

What amazed me was that God heard my prayers. My life did indeed begin to change for the better. Eventually, in November 1998, helped by a small group of Christians, I asked the Lord to forgive me, enter my life and change it. I knew that this was a special and irrevocable step. I found peace, calm and forgiveness.

For two months my wife couldn’t believe what had happened to me, but the changes that Jesus Christ had made in me were unanswerable. I turned from hard drinking, smoking and immorality. My attitude to my wife in many areas began to change.

I told her of my worries, problems, failures and successes. I became frank rather than deceitful. The Lord gave me a desire to stop lying. I was a forgiven sinner, loved and justified by Christ. It was so important to me when my wife told me she wanted us to have more children. It meant that she once again fully trusted me.

Witness

I began to speak about the Lord to my colleagues in the secret service. It came as a big shock to them. They treated me with distrust and waited for the moment when I would become ‘the same Sasha’ again!

Their attitude gave me the opportunity to explain that the God of the Bible is not an imaginary, make-believe God, but a real and living one.

God had changed my worldview. I began to treat my colleagues differently. I prayed for those who hated me and distrusted my new faith in Christ.

My values, views and behaviour had all changed. Yet I also sensed a new trust from my superiors at work (even though they put my moral improvement down to self-effort!).

Mission

I left the secret service in 2001 and was accepted for service with the Ukrainian Christian organisation ‘Hope to People’.

I am very happy that the Lord enables me to participate in the most important and serious work on earth — preaching the gospel. I am convinced that there is nothing more important than telling people about God’s mercy and grace in Christ.

I work in Hope to People’s missionary department. My responsibilities include supporting missionaries — solving problems, arranging meetings, looking after administration and providing resources such as video and audio materials and literature.

I help to organise conferences, seminars and evangelistic meetings, and also help with the work of the Rovno Bible School.

With my wife and three children, my purpose in life is to serve people. Life is not always poetry; it is often prose! One may not always have good moods and good days, but I know for sure the unchanging Saviour in whom I believe.

He always loves me. It is he who begins this good work in us and will continue it until the day of Jesus Christ!

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Ukraine