When I was fourteen I tried drugs for the first time. I drank vodka and smoked marijuana. When I was eighteen, I was put in prison for robbery of a military unit. In prison, I got really sick because interrogating officers beat me. As a result one of my eardrums broke and became infected. The infection spread from my ear to my face. Two months passed before I got any medical help. In prison I still used drugs. There were plenty of them.
In six months I was isolated from other inmates and transferred to what was called a “tricky house”. This place was for inmates that were considered “negative elements,” those who did not want to submit to authorities. Prison administration created awful conditions for such inmates. Frequently, I was put in an isolation cell – two weeks in a concrete basement with high humidity and half naked. From 6AM the bed is strapped to the wall. You can`t even sit down for a minute. The bed was then unstrapped at 10PM. Because of the conditions, many inmates contracted TB. It was so humid that you could not see past two meters – fog and cold.
There were about 2 thousand people in that prison. Because of the uprising of 21 inmates (including me), a Special Forces unit was called. All the inmates were put in their barracks and it was very quiet. Then, the Special Forces unit threw a grenade into our cell. They ran in with shields, machine guns, and riot batons and started beating us and throwing us into the yard. Two Special Forces unit soldiers escorted each of those 21 inmates to the prison exit. Along the road, the soldiers beat us with their military boots in our faces, head, and other body parts. My spine was severely injured and my legs failed. I had to be carried to the vehicle to which they were taking us. There were some people in the vehicle with open fractures and cuts to the bone on their faces and heads.
We were taken to a prison that used to serve as a prison for those inmates that were waiting for execution. It was a death penalty execution prison. The same Special Forces soldiers served as prison guards. We did not get any medical assistance. On TV it was said that an inmate revolt had been put down.
To make long story short, when I was released from prison, I still did not change much.
"I blamed myself for not being able to change."
I blamed myself for not being able to change. I looked at people, their families with kids and thought, “Why can’t I be like them?” More and more, I tried to kill my consciousness with alcohol and drugs. I wanted to live in illusion. I was afraid of reality. My mom gave up on me. She said I was lost. When alone, I cried and screamed to God: “If you are there, please help me! I want to die”. I tried to slash my wrists with a razor blade.
One morning, I saw my old friend. He told me he had found the way out. It gave me hope. Without hesitation I surrendered to God. I went to Vinnitsa rehabilitation center, "The Father`s House." During the rehabilitation program I grew in faith. I realized that God gave me freedom and I wanted to live and be useful. God`s love filled my heart. Every morning when I open my eyes I thank God just because He is my Father. I was an outcast for all, but I was accepted into God’s family.
Now, I serve God. He called me, and I treasure it. I serve people that are in the same situation as I used to be in… in the place where God saved me. I have a big family, I have many real friends. My wife and daughter are too part of this family. Seeing my new life, my wife and daughter came to God as well. They came back to me. Now we are a strong, loving family. My daughter loves me very much and says that I am the best daddy ever. Only the One True God can do something that amazing! His unconditional love melted my heart of stone. He is the Way. Praise be to Him.
"I was an outcast for all, but I was accepted into God’s family."