My mother died of a stroke four days after my fifteenth birthday.
I believed God was responsible for her death. I could not reason how a loving God could take my mother from me.
She was nominally Russian Orthodox and encouraged me to get closer to God by being baptized. However, I felt angry when a priest poured water on my head, gave me a piece of bread soaked in wine, told me to kiss the cross and declared me Orthodox. I thought, “Is that it? Where is the encounter with God? Who is He? What am I supposed to do with my life? ” My questions remained unanswered. Consequently, I concluded God was not interested in me so neither was I in Him.
I concluded God was not interested in me so neither was I in Him.—Dimitri
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, my country gained independence which opened a brief window for Christianity to enter. A librarian gave a lecture about God at our school. I thought, “Come on, what new information can she tell me about Him? I went to His church and He was not interested. Even if God exists, He is cold and distant.” However, the things I heard on that day transformed me and changed my eternity.
Most importantly, this woman invited me to come the way I was, without any pre-conditions. She did not require me to learn prayers in old Slavic, memorize names of the saints or light candles. Instead, she said I needed to ask God to forgive my sins. We were not allowed to pray in the class, so I faced the window and got on my knees at home. I told an unknown God, “If you really exist, and if you love me and want to forgive my sins and give me eternal life, I want it. Come into my heart and save me!” It was like jumping off a cliff, but God caught me! As a result, I felt clean and purified. Joy poured into my heart.
Threatened by Jesus
At the beginning I didn’t know or believe much, only that God truly loves me. I joined a church planted by missionaries and began to learn God’s character. My relationship with Him became the most important thing in my life. Unfortunately, it also became a threat to my atheist father. I told him I love God more than my parents so he slapped me, tore up all my Christian books and placed me under house arrest. However, the Lord used my ten minute trips to buy bread to introduce me to other believers. One believer gave me a New Testament.
I took my new Bible but it would have been dangerous to keep it at home. My elderly, upstairs neighbor, Ms. L. kept it and my father gave me permission to visit her for the next 15 months. I read the Bible out loud for us and explained to her what I knew about God. Eventually my father allowed me to attend church and Bible School. After that, things were going great until my mother died.
It became my mission to punish God because He had hurt me.—Dimitri
Consequently, it became my mission to punish God because He had hurt me. For months, I began smoking and drinking with bad company. My father was furious and ashamed of me. He told me to get out of the house saying, “No one will save you. Not your church, or pastor or Jesus Himself!” Suddenly sober, I thought of Jesus. “Where was He? He was probably left far behind, so far that I would hardly see Him if I turned around and looked His way.“
Face to Face with Jesus
After I left the house, I traveled into the wilderness to be alone in nature. I sat on the ground and literally looked back to find Jesus where I left Him months before. When I turned my head I saw His face in front of me. He was so close I could touch Him, but I was afraid He was angry with me. I stared at Him looking for condemnation. Instead, I saw love in His eyes. ONLY LOVE. Overwhelming, absolute and astonishing love.
During one second in His presence I realized how empty and worthless were the things in which I was filling my life. Later that summer, I devoted my life fully to Jesus.
As a result, I am honored God has chosen me to lead the new Connect Center team for such a time as this. I am glad to share my testimony with my people. My heart rejoices at the thought of impacting the lives of people in my country for Jesus.
The message of Jesus is blocked in many parts of the world and people are living without hope. Through innovative technology, Global Heart bypasses political and cultural barriers to spread His message across the Middle East and Central Asia. Our partners like Dimitri are working in our Connect Center to make disciples and connect them to the Underground Church. They give the hope of Jesus to those seeking Truth.
Will you give today and ensure believers like Dimitri can reach their people with the hope of Jesus?
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