Iaroslava lived a typical Ukrainian childhood. She wandered through the woods behind her home to pick berries and mushrooms. She used scrap materials to make dolls, handkerchiefs and aprons. And, during the winter months, she watched wild dogs play in the snow.
But as Iaroslava grew older, her childhood began to fall apart.
For most of her life, Iaroslava lived with her mother and grandfather in Borzna, a large town in northern Ukraine; she never knew her father, who abandoned her when she was an infant. To provide for her family, Iaroslava’s mother was forced to work increasingly long hours. This left Iaroslava under the care of her grandfather, who had gradually developed an addiction to alcohol.
For years, the family hung together by a thread—until Iaroslava’s mother grew ill. Unable to pay her medical bills, she fled Ukraine in search of a steady job and sent Iaroslava to Borzna Secondary Boarding School. The experience drastically altered Iaroslava’s life.
“So I often imagine this as just a dream, where I will eventually wake up and be with her.”
“My mom told me [she was leaving] a day before she left, which was unfair because I had no time to change her mind,” Iaroslava says. “So I often imagine this as just a dream, where I will eventually wake up and be with her.”
When she first arrived at the boarding school, Iaroslava relied on the support of her classmates—all orphans and abandoned children—to find hope. As time passed, she also became curious about God.
“She always wanted to know more about God and asked a lot of questions to everyone around her,” says Olha Serhiinko, Iaroslava’s school leader. “But in most cases, she didn’t receive answers.”
One Sunday, when her curiosity had piqued, Iaroslava visited a local church with her classmates. She learned “lots of interesting things”—and immediately began to dream of holding her own Bible. But when she finally received a copy from her local church, she struggled to comprehend the old church language printed inside. So she began to dream of holding a Bible she could read and understand.
Eventually, Iaroslava’s dream came true. In partnership with the Ukrainian Bible Society and generous donors, churches from around Borzna hosted an event at Iaroslava’s school to distribute children’s Bibles. Anxious to uncover the hope found in God’s Word, she immediately flipped open her Bible and began reading.
“When she saw us handing out children’s Bibles, she couldn’t contain her emotions.”
When the program ended, Iaroslava asked Serhiinko and representatives of the Ukrainian Bible Society to sign her Bible, leaving their mark on the book she once dreamt of holding.
“When she saw us handing out children’s Bibles, she couldn’t contain her emotions,” Serhiinko continues. “She started hugging and kissing it and proclaimed, ‘This is the best gift I have ever had!’”
Now 11 years old and trying to make sense of her broken childhood, Iaroslava has made a life-changing discovery: even in the midst of abandonment, addiction and poverty, she has a father in heaven who will never leave her side.
Kiho*, a ten-year-old boy from eastern Uganda, sat speechless in a small classroom. Facilitators of a Bible-based trauma healing session—organized for young victims of disaster and abuse—smiled next to him. The facilitators could tell he had something to say. They just didn’t know how to reach him.
Eventually, Kiho burst into tears and began sharing his story.
More than a decade earlier, Kiho’s mother had conceived Kiho with another man while her husband served in the Ugandan military. When her husband returned from active duty, he vowed to stick with her—but only if she abandoned Kiho. She agreed.
With nowhere to go, Kiho moved in with his uncle. But life in his new home proved difficult. He wore the same clothes every day. He dropped out of school. And he rummaged through abandoned gardens, markets and homes in search of food.
After years of wandering through life with little guidance or care, Kiho arrived at the trauma healing course. Sessions like this one regularly take place in Uganda and throughout the Great Lakes Region of Africa, thanks to the support of generous donors.
For Kiho, fighting through his tears and sharing his story helped. But he needed to rely on God for healing. So, with children from the session gathered around him, a facilitator prayed for Kiho. The experience made a life-changing impact on his life.
“[Praying] set Kiho free,” one facilitator says. “He became so free he started participating in the class.”
By reading God’s Word, Kiho learned to identify his pain, share his hurt, release his suffering and even forgive his mother for abandoning him. In a lament, he asked God for wisdom—and the strength to face the future. At the conclusion of the course, facilitators helped Kiho get his young life on track by re-enrolling him in primary school. They even gifted him a set of school supplies.
Even though he endured a childhood of turmoil and distress, Kiho has experienced freedom in God’s Word.
Excited to have her own Bible, a 15-year-old learns more about God...
Doeun Chin Lan has experienced a lot of loss.
"My mother died when I was little," explains the 15-year-old. "I don't even remember her face. All my older siblings left me to work in Thailand. My father is very elderly and poor.…I want to see my whole family together again."
When the message of God's love came to the small village where Doeun lives, her heart finally began to heal.
"I am very happy that God loves me," she says. "Whether I am in the countryside, in the forest or anywhere, God still loves me."
Doeun says she enjoys hearing stories about God at church. "But sometimes I don't understand," she admits. "When I heard they were going to give out Bibles, I was very happy."
"My Bible is small and easy to carry around and the writing is easy to understand. I believe this Bible will help me know God better. My father can't read so I want to read to him so that he can also put his faith in God."
For many Cambodians, especially poor farmers living in rural areas, obtaining a Bible requires much sacrifice. It takes months to save money for a Bible. But thanks to generous donors, Doeun and others have Bibles of their very own!
Please pray for others like Doeun who still need to know about God and engage in His Word in Cambodia. Ask that Scriptures will be made available in different media so that the entire population, especially the youth, will understand and experience the love of God.
Though Christianity had been part of their culture for 100 years, there was no Bible in the Beembe language. It took 20 years of dedicated translation work for them to get a Beembe Bible – but when they did, they showed us how to party…
Imagine fumbling through a dense, tricky text in a second language. You can read it, but it’s hard. You understand in part, but you can't quite capture the meaning. This was the case for the Beembe people of Congo Brazzaville, who only had access to Bibles their second language: French.
Lost in translation
‘For me, the problem with the Bible in French was that I had trouble understanding certain concepts and words. So I didn’t read the Bible very often,’ 54-year-old farmer, Pierrette, explains.
Pierrette’s experience isn’t rare. For many people reading the Bible in a second language, the challenge of understanding is significant. But not only that, they’re not experiencing the message of the Bible in the words they can relate to; the words they use in their thoughts, their hearts.
A word in season
More than 1,000 people gathered for the ceremony to launch the first ever Beembe New Testament in early 2014. Elders banged drums and shook rattles. Young dance troupes performed energetic routines. People cheered.
Though Christianity has been part of the Beembe culture for 100 years, this was the first time the community had Scripture in their language. And the joy was palpable.
‘Now we have our own Beembe New Testament, I am very happy,’ Pierrette says.’ It will help us strengthen the faith of our children, who will discover a deeper relationship with God.’
Decades of dedication
Jacques Mberi is the man behind the Beembe Bible. He has spent decades poring over Hebrew and Greek, considering the best ways to convey the meaning of each verse – especially when there’s not always a direct translation.
He smiled through tears as he said, ‘I am like Simeon, who waited years and years until he could see the Lord Jesus, and then once he did, he could die. I have worked hard to see this translation finished. It is my child, my pride and joy.’
Completing the task
Now the Beembe people have asked to have the Old Testament translated into their language and Jacques is already on the case.
But until then, we’re celebrating that this people group are now experiencing the New Testament in the language they most love and truly understand.
62-year-old Mbambouloulu Evelyne clutched her Beembe New Testament and said, ‘I am delighted with this New Testament. It touches my soul. It allows me to feel closer to God, and I give thanks to God for this precious gift.’
In Laos where the purchase of the Bible remains a luxury for the 3.3% Christians, Scriptures are going to those in need – thanks to supporters of Bible Societies.
Life in the landlocked Republic of Laos is basic and under Communist rule. But its Christian population has more than doubled in the last 10 years to more than 200,000.
Thaungxay Sanyahak – a reserved man, expresses joy beyond human understanding in his circumstances as a Christian.
In 1988, Thaungxay married Chanda, a strong believer in Christ. He respected her Christian way of life and became a Christian. But he admits he did not take his new faith to heart.
One day, a significant event caused him to encounter God.
Thaungxay recalled, “My boat capsized on the river during military training. I made it back to the river bank but all my belongings including my gun, machete and identity card disappeared.”
Soldiers who lose their weapons are severely punished, and would lose their jobs. Thaungxay was the sole breadwinner in his family.
He was distressed and confided in Chanda. She called her mother and they prayed.
“I had never really felt God as a tangible presence and found it very difficult to pray. Yet, I prayed with my wife and mother-in-law.”
Three days later, Thaungxay found his belongings lying on the riverbank, in perfect condition. This miracle led him to read his Bible and pray daily.
“The Bible became my new weapon,” Thaungxay exclaimed, believing that God is His protector.
Challenges to his faith
But life is not easy for Thaungxay Sanyahak, a soldier and Christian in Laos.
His family was ostracised in many villages. They finally found a village to settle in, and were encouraged by a visiting pastor. But the pastor’s kindness cost him his life – he was murdered on his way home. The family cried out to the Lord in despair and God sent the village chief who offered them a plot of land to build a house, along with a supportive community who gave them free bamboo for building.
Unfortunately, the house they built was burnt down and they lost all possessions. But the Lord provided a church that contributed money, clothing and other basic necessities.
As a Christian, Thaungxay is unlikely to be promoted in the army and his family members struggle to get by. Not all his children are able to attend school. His 14-year-old son is an ‘A’ student but had to withdraw from the state school as his father could not pay his fees.
Yet, Thaungxay is joyful in giving…
More blessed to give than to receive (Acts 20:35)
Despite the challenges, his family does not lose heart but is renewed day by day as they put their hope in the Word of God (2 Corinthians 4:16 ESV).
Thaungxay seizes every opportunity to share his faith with others. Besides the two Bibles in the house belonging to his family, there are several New Testaments that he bought to give to friends.
Jesus said, “In the world you will have tribulation” (John 16:33). However, in the same sentence, He tells us to “take heart” in this world of tribulation. While tribulation and suffering is inevitable, Jesus has “overcome the world” through us. As ambassadors of Christ on earth, Christians have been empowered by the Holy Spirit to stand in the gap and help those who are suffering. The Bible Society of Singapore and United Bible Societies have responded to this calling diligently.
Tribulation and suffering in this world come in many forms. Blindness, disease and hunger are some examples. According to the World Health Organisation, more than 34 million people now live with HIV/AIDS and 3.3 million of them are below the age of 15. 285 million people are visually impaired worldwide. 868 million people or 12.5 per cent of the global population were undernourished between 2010-12. Most of those suffering from the above afflictions live in developing countries.
Bible Societies around the world have been reaching out in love to these people, providing them with Bibles so that they may experience God’s love. Bible Societies have also provided donations, infrastructure, education, spiritual and emotional support to those in need, helping to improve their quality of life.
Lives Touched by UBS
Daifa, 10, from China, was abandoned by her parents when she was born blind. Adopted by a home for the disabled at six, she became fearful and distrusting of others. Daifa learned to read Braille and was provided with Braille Scripture from the China Christian Council (CCC) and UBS.
Daifa mentioned seeing God as her “Father in heaven, just like a father on earth,” and Jesus as her “best Friend”. She even has plans to become a pastor when she grows up.
These are just some examples of how the United Bible Societies (UBS) is teaching the blind how to read Braille, providing them with Braille Scripture and encouraging many blind people to be trained in life skills so that they can earn a living.
Bible Societies have helped in areas experiencing chronic hunger. Simon, a young boy from a village in Lodwar, had been living in poverty even before Lodwar was hit by drought. His schooling was hindered as his father had no money to buy any of the textbooks. He often went to bed hungry. After the drought, the family struggled even more as they lost most of their goats: their main food source.
The Bible Society of Kenya took steps to reach out to the people of Lodwar who, like Simon’s family, were unable to produce enough crops or livestock to feed themselves. They managed to deliver 11 tonnes of food which was distributed to 500 needy families. They followed up by sending Bibles to these families who hunger for God’s Word.
UBS is working to bring hope to those suffering from HIV through its Good Samaritan programme. This ministry helps those with HIV come to terms with their situation and encourages them to open up. Winnie Ncongwane from Swaziland received ministry through the Good Samaritan programme.
When Winnie became pregnant, she felt unwell. She discovered that she had contracted HIV from her unfaithful husband. Winnie urged her husband to test for HIV, and when he tested positive for the virus, he turned violent towards her. Winnie’s husband passed away while their daughter (who was HIV negative) was only a few years old.
While searching for support, Winnie started volunteering at the Bible Society of Swaziland, where she first heard about the Good Samaritan programme. Going through this programme sparked a turnaround for her life.
Winnie learnt to be open about her illness, and not hide in the darkness of shame and secrecy. This helped her to deal with her issues and she could help others with the same problems. She spent much time reading the Bible, and found hope and God’s peace. Now, Winnie is employed with an organisation which fights tuberculosis, and continues to volunteer with the Bible Society of Swaziland.
The Work Carries On
However much has been done through our missions efforts to benefit those who are suffering in the dark, marginalised and oppressed by society, much more still remains to be done. There are millions of people with HIV or AIDs and other fatal illnesses living lives of hopelessness, poverty and hunger. Millions more around the world suffer from vision impairment or blindness, but the Bible in Braille currently only exists in 40 out of around 7,000 languages, and audio Scripture distribution is similarly inadequate.
The Bible Society of Singapore (BSS) is doing its part to let those with visual impairment gain access to the Bible. Our Word Intake for Spiritual Edification (WISE) programme encourages the regular hearing of God’s Word through audio Scripture. We have recorded solar-powered audio Scripture in many languages, and these devices have proven very helpful in reaching the blind locally and abroad, especially in rural areas.
BSS has also been helping the less fortunate who do not have access to God’s Word through Bible Distribution Trips. In 2012, we made four trips to Nanjing, Anhui, Myanmar and Cambodia. We rejoiced in witnessing many who received with tears of joy their personal copy of God’s Word. We made trips to countries struck by disaster, like Indonesia and Philippines, to bring hope through the replacement of lost Bibles for free.
Despite the suffering present in the world today, we should still take heart, for the Lord is able to overcome tribulation through the help of His people. We ask that you prayerfully consider joining us in bringing alleviation to a world of suffering.
Nearly a year after three earthquakes devastated Nepal’s capital, Kathmandu, and surrounding areas, Tej Jirel, General Secretary of the Nepal Bible Society, has been reflecting on how Christians have coped with the tragedy.
“I was in the middle of preaching at a church on April 25 when the first earthquake hit,” recalls Mr Jirel. “I stopped preaching, held onto the pulpit and prayed for the earthquake to stop. Some people dropped to their knees in prayer, and others stood to call out to God.
Shaking really violently
“That first quake went on for a while. The pulpit fell over and hit the Communion table. The pillars in the church were shaking really violently. As soon as it was over we evacuated the whole congregation and made sure everyone was standing safely away from the building.”
The congregation joined hundreds of people who had come out onto the streets. Some were weeping as aftershocks continued. Mr Jirel and other church leaders reassured people as best they could.
“I felt that, in the midst of all this, we should honour God by going ahead with taking Holy Communion, as we had intended. Between aftershocks, some of us went into the church to bring out the Communion table. So there, outside the church and beside the river, we took Communion in remembrance of what our Lord did for us.”
Powerful and memorable moment
For those present it was a powerful and memorable moment, and typifies the reaction of many Christians to the tragedy caused by the earthquake. Scores of churches were damaged or destroyed in the earthquake, and there were around 500 Christians among the 9,000 people who died. Those who survived have remained strong in their faith, according to Mr Jirel and his team, who have travelled to many of the affected districts.
“Church services in all the affected districts resumed almost immediately, despite the fact that they had nothing to shelter under,” comments Mr Jirel. “A lot of them still haven’t yet been completely rebuilt, due to lack of funds, and services are held with no roof, using tarpaulins or roofing sheets to protect worshippers from the sun or rain.
“But people are holding onto their faith. I remember one elderly man I met, Padam Bahadur Bhujel, who had been buried alive, along with other worshippers, when their church building collapsed on them. They were all eventually rescued. Mr Bhujel told me he’d remained calm because he had complete faith that God would save them. He said, ‘If you have great faith in God, He will do great things for you.’ I felt very inspired by that.
“It was quite a shock to see that church reduced to rubble, along with the rest of the village. We’d run two programs there a few years back, one for leaders and another for youth and career development, and I remembered how nice the church building had been. When we visited after the earthquake we found the pastor and his family living in the middle of a field, with no proper food to eat.”
Having witnessed the urgent humanitarian needs of people in the various affected districts, the Bible Society began working to bring them the items they most needed. Over the past year, they have helped provide roofing, tarpaulins and other materials to hundreds of families who lost their homes, most of them non-Christians.
“We as a Bible Society are seen as a neutral platform, and we had excellent co-operation with all sorts of different churches, parachurch organisations and government officials,” notes Mr Jirel.
Much of this material was delivered to people living in remote areas that are hard to access, with Bible Society staff and volunteers walking up mountainsides with the materials on their backs, or transporting it across rivers on small rafts.
“So many people were thankful for the help we brought, because they hadn’t received any other relief materials like this,” says Mr Jirel. “I remember one widow in particular, who thanked us with tears in her eyes. We told them we were Christians. We pray that one day all these people will come to know and accept Christ.”
In addition to offering practical help to everyone who needs it, the Bible Society has also been helping Christians to replace the Scriptures that they lost in the earthquake. Many hundreds of Bibles, Children’s Bibles and Scripture booklets have been distributed to churches and individual Christians.
“We didn’t want Christians to be without their Scriptures as they came to terms with what had happened,” says Mr Jirel. “They greatly appreciated the Bibles and other materials we brought them, which helped them to hold onto hope in the midst of their grief and struggles.
“Without God there is no hope, and we continue to pray for the many people in Nepal who still don’t know Him. Please join us in praying that many good things will come out of this disaster, and that many more people will come to know the true God and Creator.”
This article was written by The Bible Society of Singapore.
In environments where education seems almost impossible for many children in the Middle East, SAT-7 KIDS breaks through physical boundaries and makes learning possible through satellite television.
As the first and only Arabic Christian channel exclusively for the children of the Middle East and North Africa, SAT-7 KIDS shares God’s Word and Christian values with children using entertainment, culture and knowledge. They aim to make the gospel meaningful to a generation that needs to feel God’s love, especially as they mature and take their place in a society where the future is so uncertain.
In December 2015, our team from The Bible Society of Singapore was blessed with the opportunity to visit the headquarters of SAT-7 Lebanon in Beirut. We were encouraged to hear how they were impacting many lives in difficult circumstances. We were particularly excited to know that our contribution to the programme Madrasati, also known as My School, has been helping children refugees to learn.
The idea first started when war erupted in the Middle East, which resulted in a refugee crisis. To address one of their needs, SAT-7 KIDS decided to provide education to children refugees through the television. Almost every family in the Middle East owns a satellite dish and these satellite dishes can be found in refugee camps as well. It was the best means possible to reach out to people.
“We thought that we needed a change in this generation and this change can be spiritual through SAT-7 KIDS; it can also be through My School by giving them basic education,” said Andrea Elmounayer, Broadcast Manager of SAT-7. “How can the children read the Bible if they don’t know how to read?”
Andrea shared a story of how a Syrian refugee family is learning together by watching My School. The testimony was sent by the mother.
“It is a sacred time for my kids when My School airs and no one is allowed to visit us – not the neighbours or the family – no one is allowed to call us either.”
Only their uncle and his children can visit so that they can watch the programme together. Her kids force them all to sit and watch and learn, and they forbid anyone to talk or move. They sit as if in a classroom and learn from the teachers in the episodes. Then, they would write down what they learn. They even got their mother, an illiterate, a work book. The kids said to their mother, “Here is your workbook. You must learn to read and write – go ahead now and start writing.”
My School is not only teaching the children but also educating adults who are illiterate. They are looking into widening the syllabus in their programmes as well as cater to the learning needs of a larger age group.
They asked us to keep their work in prayer as they make God’s love visible in the Arab world. The contribution we made has run out and they are not able to produce new episodes. They are currently re-running past episodes.
Nearly five years into the conflict in Syria, which has killed or displaced half the population, staff members of the Bible Society there are continuing their ministry to provide Scriptures for all who need them.
“The thirst for Scriptures among Christians here has only increased with all the unrest,” notes the Society’s director, who, along with other staff members, has stayed on despite the dangers. “The past five years have been very traumatic for Syrians in general, and for Syrian Christians in particular. Every family has a sad story. With this loss of hope, people are turning to God’s Word for comfort and encouragement.”
While nearly 4 million Syrians have fled their country, another 7.6 million have been internally displaced, leaving their bombed and besieged towns and villages to shelter in safer areas. Many are living in overcrowded houses and apartments with friends or family members, or with others who have opened their homes to them.
Demand Increased Tenfold
Amidst this immense trauma and upheaval, the team has received far more requests for Scriptures than ever before. In 2010, the year before the conflict began, the Bible Society distributed just under 15,000 Scriptures. By 2014, the demand had increased tenfold, and nearly 159,000 Scriptures were distributed across Syria that year.
The distribution takes place through its two Bible bookshops in Aleppo and Damascus, and through partner bookshops, churches, monasteries and volunteers. Incredibly, the Damascus Bible bookshop has remained open throughout the conflict, while the one in Aleppo only shut for two days when the nearby fighting became particularly intense. A rocket hit the second floor of the building in which the bookshop is housed, but it didn’t explode and there were no casualties or damage to the Scriptures.
Although life in Aleppo has become very difficult, most Bible Society staff based there have remained, risking sniper attacks as they make their way to work and carrying out their duties to the rattle of gunfire just down the street. They welcome many visitors to the bookshop each day, including a steady flow of young people who are being offered free Scriptures through a joint project between the Bible Society and local churches.
Transporting Scriptures around the country is a challenging task, especially to Christians in the more remote areas. But the Bible Society uses all means available – buses, trucks, church volunteers – to ensure that those who need Scriptures receive them. Staff members themselves often make risky journeys to encourage Christians and deliver Scriptures to them, sometimes getting caught in battle zones.
The Bible Society has also begun to equip churches to offer Bible-based trauma healing to the many Christian families who need it. Late last year a group of church representatives spent a week in a remote monastery in Lebanon learning from a Middle Eastern trauma healing expert and sharing their own experiences of trauma.
“Some of the participants were from Aleppo, which was being besieged at that time,” one staff member recalls. “They were so worried about their families and kept phoning them in the breaks.”
Please pray for Christians in Syria, for the churches and for the Bible Society as it works to make God’s Word available in the midst of war and trauma.
Sasha’s entire childhood was blighted by alcoholism. When he was five his mother froze to death, too drunk to find her way back home. Shortly afterwards his father was sent to an asylum after stabbing someone in a drunken rage. When he left the orphanage where he grew up, Sasha became dependent on alcohol, which led him into a life of crime. He spent most of his late teens and 20s in prison.
“Realising that my life was turning out like my parents’ I lost all hope,” he recalls. “My body is full of the scars of numerous suicide attempts.”
Slowly blossomed in his heart
But then, in 1992, a fellow prisoner gave him a New Testament. It didn’t immediately change Sasha’s life but it planted a seed that slowly blossomed in his heart.
“The first time I read Scripture I felt disturbed,” he recalls. “I read the first six chapters of Matthew and then couldn’t sleep that night. The next day I returned it to my friend, saying, ‘This is a holy book and I’m a sinful man. I’m not allowed to touch it.’”
That first encounter with the Bible helped Sasha to get through some dark days ahead. While in solitary confinement he found himself praying words from the Lord’s Prayer, which he remembered reading. Later, he wrote to ask for his own copy of the New Testament through a program called, ‘The Gospel for every prisoner’. Although he wasn’t ready to commit himself to Christ he read his New Testament, particularly in times of trouble.
It took a dramatic situation and a lot of help from his Christian friends in prison for him to understand and accept God’s love for him. He was baptised, along with 18 other prisoners.
Free for the first time
“It was a great honour to die to my old life and rise to my new life of service to God,” he smiles. “While in prison I became free for the first time in my life.”
When he was released from prison, with the support of Revival Mission, a church-run organisation that helps addicts and alcoholics, Sasha started to share his story with other people. Today, he pastors a church and works with Revival Mission to help others whose lives have been destroyed by addiction. The mission uses Scriptures provided by the Bible Society of Belarus, which is committed to helping fight the scourge of drug and alcohol addiction.
“Unfortunately, the tragedy of Sasha’s childhood is not uncommon,” says Bible Society Executive Secretary Igor Mikhailov. “Alcoholism affects many families and the number of drug addicts here has increased sevenfold over the past 10 years, particularly among teenagers and young people. And intravenous drug use is closely linked to HIV – around 80% of injecting drug addicts are HIV-positive.
“More and more churches and other Christian organisations are getting involved in tackling this growing problem. We are supporting them by providing Scriptures, which are a key tool in helping people to break their addiction and discover a fresh purpose for their life.”
This Scripture-based approach, which is used by Christian-run drug rehabilitation centres and church-run programs in prisons, hospitals and other settings, is proving very effective.
70% success rate
“70% of our patients who complete the full cycle of rehabilitation stop taking drugs, have families and actively participate in church life,” says Averyanov, who leads a Christian rehabilitation centre in the Gomel region. “Having experienced the power of God’s Word in their lives, many of them share the Gospel with friends who are still drug users. Also, the patients’ relatives see the changes in their loved ones and want to find out about the Bible for themselves. Thanks to the Bible Society we are able to give them a copy.”
Another organisation, Mothers Against Drugs, told the Bible Society that the young people they speak to in schools about how to avoid addiction react very positively to the Bible.
“Almost all the young people we talk to in schools, colleges and universities have tried drugs,” notes Lidia Kotikova who heads Mothers Against Drugs in the town of Gorki. “We use drama and lectures to get them to think about addiction from a biblical perspective, and they find this very interesting. They tell us that they never had much guidance from their families. Many of them ask us for Bibles so that they can read it for themselves.”
Igor, who has led this Bible Society project for a number of years, says that he has been “personally amazed” to see the dedication of those ministering to addicts and their families, or teaching youth how to avoid addiction.
“Many of these men and women working in rehabilitation centres and other settings have burning hearts, having once passed through serious trials themselves,” he notes. “They are able to speak from their wealth of personal experience and help people to find the right path again and turn to God. This ministry is having a stunning effect, which I would not have believed if I was not witnessing it myself, over and over again.”
Read the testimonies below of a few of these former addicts who are now ministering to others.
The Bible Society supplies thousands of Scriptures to churches and organisations working to help people avoid and recover from alcohol abuse and drug addiction, but many more are needed. Please pray that it is able to provide Scriptures wherever they are needed.
“I spent 11 years addicted to alcohol and drugs. I had a daughter but I wasn’t involved in her upbringing. I was too busy destroying my life and going to jail. I realised that I was going to die if I didn’t do something, so I went to the Christian rehabilitation centre I’d heard about. There I experienced God and any doubts I’d had about coming off drugs evaporated. I went through the rehabilitation and also the program to help me reintegrate into normal life. I have my daughter back and I’m now helping alcoholics, drug addicts and their parents with mental and spiritual recovery.” – Mila*
“My parents were very caring but I started taking drugs because I wanted to be rebellious. My addiction nearly killed me several times and I only avoided prison through the intervention of Mothers Against Drugs, who got me sent to a Christian rehabilitation centre instead. It was only through God’s power that I was able to break free from my addiction. I now go to church and work with the rehabilitation centre, visiting schools to tell kids my story and help them avoid the mistakes I made.” – Alexy*
“I grew up seeing my mother and father constantly drunk. I had so much pain inside, which I dealt with by taking drugs in my teens. My mother became a Christian and invited me to church but I thought, ‘How can you find anything in religion? I’m fine. I can take care of myself.’ But then my mother died of cancer and I was diagnosed with a severe illness. I was told I’d be an invalid. I realised I was standing on a precipice. I went to the ‘Right to Life’ rehabilitation centre and God immediately started working in my heart, destroying strongholds that had held me captive for so long. In Jeremiah 33:3 God says, ‘Call to me and I will answer you and show you great and mighty things, which you don’t know about.’ I see it in my life. I am now working in the rehabilitation centre and have been blessed with a wife. I can testify that ‘He who promised is faithful’ (Hebrews 10:23). – Pavel*
“I grew up seeing debauchery, discord and death, and I liked it. I was cynical and constantly in conflict with other people. But at the same time I felt a void in my life, and drugs filled it. Everywhere I went I had plenty of money, women and drugs. I could find drugs anywhere. Then one day I injured myself and my mother asked me to please go to a rehabilitation centre. I didn’t want to disappoint her so I went. There I learned about Jesus and realised that he was exactly what I’d been missing in my life. I understood that drug addiction was not my only sin. I repented and, with God’s help, I am trying to become a new man. If it wasn’t for learning about God in the rehabilitation centre, I would be dead.” – Vitaly*
Click here to read a blog about a visit to a rehabilitation centre.
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