Church Planter / Pastor - Siberia
Andy was miraculously saved by the Lord, both physically and spiritually, and he has great confidence and hope in the Lord to save the worst of sinners. It is this hope and confidence that fuels his pastoral and evangelistic endeavors.
Testimony of Conversion
I was born into a family with many problems. I never knew my biological father. When I was 6 years old, my mother met my future stepfather. I also had an elder brother, Sergey, who was 5 years older than myself. When I turned 11 my stepfather beat up my mom and shot and killed Sergey in front of me. He also wanted to kill my mother, but I didn’t let him do that. By God’s grace, I got the gun away from him and hid it. Afterwards my stepfather was sentenced to 15 years in prison. But my life started decaying and I started drinking, smoking, and using drugs. I also joined a gang that thrived on theft, mugging, and extortion. In 1998 I was sentenced to 8.5 years in prison but the correctional system didn’t change me. I was still using drugs and involved in crime.
In 2000 my mother died, and I got sick with tuberculosis and was sent to a medical-correctional facility in one of the regions of my city. My disease was progressing and by 2005 doctors diagnosed me with Fibrocaseous Tuberculosis in both of my lungs. Simply speaking, it meant that the medical drugs they gave me had no effect. There were one inch holes in my lungs and the upper parts of my lungs had began rotting away, and I was coughing blood all the time. To decrease the blood loss doctors made intravenous injections to thicken my blood. After examinations the medical board proclaimed me invalid and I became a physically disabled person.
My disease was progressing very rapidly and nothing could stop it! Just a few months; maybe days were left for me on this earth! I was placed in barracks with many others in the very same situation. On a weekly basis I saw corpses of men who were diagnosed with tuberculosis carried out of the place where I was dying. I realized that my destiny was awaiting me very soon also. The doctors had given up on me! They were just watching as I was gradually fading away and couldn’t do anything!
But praise the Lord at that exact time evangelists came to our colony! They would speak about the Lord and two girls from South Korea would play on violins. They gave me the gospel of Jesus Christ and a blue Gideon’s New Testament! I was interested in reading it but there was a lot I didn’t understand. In the depth of my soul I felt the extraordinary truthfulness of the words that were written in the Book; especially when I read the Sermon on the Mount. I didn’t understand then that it was God working in my heart! Later I found a Christian book where I was called to repent before God and reconcile with Him through faith by the atoning sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ! I don’t know what happened to me then but I saw very clearly the Son of God was crucified for my sins, and I realized that I should renounce my former life of sin (or rather what was left of it) and rely on God fully! Though I had nothing to lose, I was still struggling inside because my flesh didn’t want to surrender! But glory to our Lord Jesus Christ that He finally won! His grace, His amazing mercy and love conquered my heart that was worn out by sin! Glory to Him!
It was in the fall of 2005 I was born again! The Lord gave me a new chance and a new life! Oh, what a wonderful time it was! The Spirit of God literally was carrying me in “His arms!” What joy was overwhelming me! A new world was opened to me then – God’s world. I saw this life in its true light as it is in reality. What happiness was overflowing in me! It didn’t make any difference then where I was, outside of or in prison; the main thing was that no matter where I was, my Lord Jesus Christ was always with me.
Where people put a period, God wrote a comma! In His mercy the Lord healed me completely from this horrible disease. I know for sure that I’m able to write these lines now by the grace of God. If not for Him, I would have died there in that prison long ago. My body would be buried in the cemetery and my soul would be doomed to the eternal torments of hell! But Jesus stretched His hand of help to me and snatched me out of the mouth of death and hell! Glory to Him!
God’s plan was not just to save me but also to prolong the days of my life on the earth for His glory! Earlier in prison I couldn’t even dream that I would have my own family. After my mother’s death I had became an orphan. God gave me a wonderful wife (a Christian) and five children (3 sons and 2 daughters)! I always wanted to have big friendly family!
Jesus forgave me, freed me from the bondage of my sin, washed me by His innocent blood, and received me in His family. There are such forgiven sinners like me all over the face of the earth today and we all are brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus our Lord!
In January 2007 my imprisonment ended and I was freed. From the first days of my free life the Lord gave me opportunities to visit various prison camps and witness to convicts about Christ. Later, God opened the door for me at the same prison where I served my sentence! The impression that was made was unusual because I knew all the people behind the “fence” and they knew me and I came and went like a guest. The people didn’t understand how or why I was visiting them. Why, after so many years spent in that terrible place, would I go there again without compulsion?
On July 1, 2007 I made a covenant with the Lord through water baptism. I also led a ministry via a correspondence Bible school, evangelized in prisons, spread the gospel in the Gideon organization, and preached in the local Church. In 2010 I was ordained for pastor’s ministry.