Siberia : A Second Chance

March 26, 2013

A drink or two didn´t seem like a big deal. Sergey enjoyed getting together with his friends after work for a game of cards or to watch a soccer match on television. They shared laughs as they puffed on cigarettes and swallowed shooters of vodka. Sometimes they would hang out on weekends too. It was great fun.

The Russian man´s blessings multiplied. He got married and became the proud father of a son and a daughter. He had a good-paying job and was able to provide a comfortable home for his family. In the evenings or on weekends, he still joined his buddies sometimes for drinks. But in the intervening years something had happened. Sergey´s casual social drinking wasn´t so casual any more.

Alcohol became Sergey´s consuming passion. Getting his next drink was all that mattered. As a result, he ended up hurting the people he loved the most. His children, now grown and married, forbade him to see the grandchildren. His once-loving wife could no longer tolerate the violent drunkard. Even his friends kept their distance.

Desperate for help, Sergey sought counseling from the pastor of a church in his northern Russian town of Chernyahovsk. The pastor told him about God´s redemptive love and grace. He also referred Sergey to a Christian rehabilitation center for alcoholics and drug addicts, one of several centers run by New Life Mission, a Christian Aid Mission-assisted ministry in the distant reaches of Siberia.

“I agreed to go there. It was my last chance, my last way out,” recalls Sergey, who confessed to drinking for 25 years and smoking for 30 years. “Jesus did a miracle and gave me a new heart. He delivered me from alcohol and tobacco. I have a new life in Jesus Christ. Praise the Lord!”

Sergey is one of hundreds of success stories of those whose lives have been changed for eternity as a result of the Russian ministry. Since 2000 it has opened more than a dozen rehabilitation centers in cities like Chernyahovsk, Sayanogorsk, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Tomsk, Belovo, Achinsk, Kurga, Kogalim, Sharipovo, Saratov, and Viksa.

Russia leads the world in alcoholism, and drug abuse is also on the rise, particularly among the 18-to-24 age group. Official estimates reveal 40 percent of men and 7 percent of women are addicts of some substance.

Christian Aid Mission has partnered with the ministry for the past 13 years, supplying funds for church planting, a Bible school, a children´s summer camp, and other projects in addition to the rehabilitation program.

More than 1500 have overcome their addiction and returned home to lead normal lives. Most importantly, many of the participants, like Sergey, now have a relationship with Jesus Christ and are living testimonies of His redemptive love.