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.

“It was hard for me to refuse. I did not think of the consequences, because I was young and strong. I had a passion for drinks and I became alcohol-addicted,” said Sergey. “I started having trouble in my family and at work because of drinking. I lacked courage and strength to solve this problem.”

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.

“People avoided me, and my wife turned away from me. My granddaughters were afraid of me,” he said. “My wife often sent for the police. I began to hate her. Then she decided to send me to the mental hospital.”

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.

The founder of New Life Mission was once among those startling statistics. His addiction landed him on the streets and eventually in prison. It was there that he experienced clinical death from a drug overdose. When he recovered, he committed his life to the Lord, Who then used the young man´s testimony of second chances to deliver others from spiritual darkness.

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.

Those who enroll in the Christ-centered treatment program stay in private houses and buildings rented by the ministry. Depending on the type of program, they may remain there for six months to a year. During that time, they undergo counseling, participate in Bible study and prayer, and attend worship services and evangelistic crusades.

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.

Prayer requests:

Currently 15 people are enrolled in the treatment program at the center in Chernyahovsk. The cost for food, lodging, and other related expenses comes to approximately $600 per month for a group of this size.