Many people think and assume that I’ve been addicted to drugs and alcohol. Or that I’ve had criminal ties in my past due to the fact that these are the types of people that I’ve ministered to since I turned to God. I heard about faith in God in my youth from my grandfather and grandmother, my parents were not Christian at the time. When I was nine years old, my mother died—I didn’t understand why God allowed this to happen. In my younger years, I had been in a musical academy and then my interest switched to sports because I liked having strong friends.
I wanted to try something of this world. I had friends who were a negative influence on me, with whom I had similar interests. Although in my early teen years I experimented with different things, I did not become addicted. God protected me many times from different situations that I got myself into. I almost envied my non-Christian friends—they sinned and didn’t feel remorse. When I sinned, I knew that there was a God and I couldn’t fully enjoy what I was doing because I knew that God was watching me and that He wasn’t pleased with me. When I was 18 years old, God touched my life and I repented. I made the decision that I would dedicate my life to the Lord. God freed me from my sins and from the desire to sin. I was overcome with the desire to serve people. With my church youth, we visited disabled people, the elderly, and people who were suffering, where there was pain and unpleasant smells—but the grace of Lord was in full effect. When I saw how people were dying from substance abuse, I was unable to just stand by and watch. With some of my Christian friends, I began visiting drug addicts and helping them turn to God, and later began to bring them to a recovery center in Ukraine. I knew of addiction not just by hearing from people, but I experienced it through my father and uncle. When I was a child, my father was addicted to alcohol and my uncle died an alcoholic.
When I was a teen, I had friends who were into sports and I looked down on and avoided people who were in addiction because they seemed to do whatever necessary to get that next fix. But when God fills the heart with love, then the desire comes to share that love with others without receiving anything in return. When we see a need, our calling is to become involved and help meet that need.
When I arrived in America, at first it was difficult for me because I had become accustomed to volunteering in the rehabilitation center, and serving in different ministries, where I had seen God transform many lives. Seeing the same need here in Seattle, I began to pray that God would save sinners. Soon, I had the opportunity to participate in prison ministry. God sent amazing people who also caught the vision to help open up a men’s recovery center and then also a women’s recovery center.
In the past 8 years of existence of the Gates of Freedom, more than 80 people have received freedom from addiction, some of whom serve in their local churches, others have gotten married and have children. Life is abundant with Christ Jesus!
I thank my God for His leading in my life, for my wonderful wife, for her support in this ministry. I am thankful for all of the faithful coworkers and volunteers of GOF. I am thankful for all of the people whose hearts are not passive towards this ministry, who continually support it both with their prayers and financially! May God bless this ministry and continue expanding it and may He reward all of the people who become a part of it.