God is Stronger!

Gennady Chepak

Gennady Chepak

My name is Gennady Chepak, which means "noble" or "of noble birth". And indeed, the beginning of my life corresponded to my name. I was born into an ordinary, and loving family. In general, from my childhood, I have only the best memories.

What went wrong?

At school, together with other guys, for company`s sake, I started smoking. Like most children, we thought that this way we looked older, and in high school I began to try to smoke cannabis. After school, I wanted to have an independent life, so I went to study in another city, but a couple of months later I still returned home, and was studying at the local professional school. My life was speeding by so I decided to live for myself. I started to experiment with drugs, alcohol and other amusements. I liked this life. After graduation, so as not to upset my parents, I went to work at the mine. But, in fact, I did not want to work or study at the institute, but I wanted entertainment, sensuality, and it was during this period of my life that I tried an inject-able drug - opium. My friends and I were confident that we would be able to control this process, and at any time we would stop using the drug.

Remember, the devil carefully packs a deadly snare in a beautiful package of unique sensations; he whispers soothing words, but when you realize that you are trapped, it turns out that it is almost impossible for a person to get out of it. I got caught in this trap too. When I was 19, my mother was diagnosed with cancer, and nine months later she died of this disease. After her death,  nothing was holding me back, I wanted to drown out the pain of loss, and I found solace in drugs. My name, like my nobility, was recklessly lost. To buy drugs, I needed money all the time, so lies and stealing became my sources of income. It was no surprise that I ended up in front of a judge: the first two times I got a suspended sentence, and at the third sentence I fell under amnesty, so I thought that I was always lucky, but did not notice at all how the swamp of sin was sucking me deeper and deeper. Even the death of my friends due to overdoses did not stop me; I continued to walk in a vicious circle: theft, lie and drug highs. I stole from strangers and from my family, my father asked me to stop many times, but I continued to take from his house and sell everything I could. Sometimes, I hated myself for it, tried to straighten out, stop it all, but I could not. The drugs owned my mind, my needs, feelings and common sense.

And now the day of reckoning had come. For the next crime I was arrested and sentenced to five years. After many years of drug addiction, being in prison with no drugs readily available was worse than the prison itself. I went through hard withdrawals; it was like a crazy nightmare: the whole body hurt, you cannot sit or lay, you cannot sleep, and all your thoughts are only about one things - where to take inject the next hit? I hated myself and hated the day I first tried drugs. But as soon as I had the opportunity, I gladly took up another drug hit. When sober thoughts appeared in my head, I wanted to change something in my life, but, how to do it - I did not understand. I already had unsuccessful attempts to change. In prison, I met believers, but I said that faith in God is the practice and belief of old women, and even often argued about it.

Just over a year remained until my release, but I was given early release. “Finally, a streak of luck began in my life," I thought. I was convinced that I would not live as I did before. Now everything would be different: if I was going to steal, I would do it more cunningly and carefully; if to inject, then only occasionally. But my "theory of new life" failed, because I did not control my life, but sin and the devil did. I met my old friends, started drugs again, addiction, another crime, and as a result - four years of prison. After only 10 weeks after my release, I again found myself behind prison bars. I did not even have time to breathe in the air of freedom and to enjoy it. My hope to start a family was dashed. And again disappointment, emptiness, fatigue. "Will all my life pass like this?" this question constantly sounded in my head. And only God already knew the answers to all my questions, but I had not heard them yet.

An older prisoner told me that on certain days Christians come to visit and that only among them I will be able to find real friends. I went to the next such meeting; I wanted to see and listen to what these believers say. I did not understand everything, but I did not want to leave. After the fellowship, one of the Christians came up to me. I was surprised to see that I served my first term with him, and here I am again in prison for a crime, and he came to prison to preach. He invited me to the next meetings, and said that God loves me. These simple words pierced my soul: how can God love me, if I hate myself for my way of life? My relatives have lost all hope of helping me. Only later, I could understand that this is the meaning of the Gospel and the love of God – that He came to seek and save the lost. But before salvation, I resisted for a long time, tested God, gave Him conditions, and when He did not answer the way I wanted, I became angry. But constant communication with believers who were imprisoned with me, and reading the New Testament, did not go without fruit. I was very fond of reading, but did not understand anything in the Gospel, so when I finished reading it, I started again. And one day, I decided to turn to God in a prayer of repentance, hoping that He would change me. I thought, "If God cannot help me, then no one will help." In 1999, Jesus Christ came into my heart and gave me salvation.

Gradually, changes began in me: I stopped playing dominoes and cards and God began to purify my speech. I asked the Lord to set me free from smoking and drugs. And others began to notice it, in prison such changes become very noticeable. As a Christian, I served my term for another three and a half years. Sometimes, thoughts came to me: what if it all is a deceit? Wrong choice? Some kind of game? Sometimes I was ashamed when some prisoners laughed at me. But the Lord helped me to cope with doubts, gave courage and affirmed me in faith. While in prison, I finished the correspondence school "Emmaus", and before my release, the Rehabilitation Center of the Light of Resurrection Mission was started in Makeevka, and the brothers invited me there. Now I was a free man, I really had a chance to start a new life without addiction, without fear, without stealing. God gave me this opportunity.

In order to restore the documents, I lived with my relatives for three days, and realized that I was absolutely not adapted to life. I did not know how to work, I did not know how to live, and, therefore, I could not find my place in life and the old way of life would drag me into the old swamp. And my relatives did not care of me much. Therefore, the rehabilitation center became my home.

There I learned all over again: the Christian life, communication with people, work, and I grew spiritually. For people like me, this is very important. Being engaged in a useful work and being in a Christian surrounding, feel the support of the brothers, my mentors – it is the main value of the rehabilitation ministry. I am grateful to God for the team of prison ministry, for my brother and friend Vadim Chubukin, who became my support on my way of spiritual growth.

After rehabilitation, the brothers invited me to stay, and become a staff member of the center, to help people who lived the same destructive life as I used to do. Today God knows me by name: "Gennady, which means noble," He reminds me that I was created by the Creator Himself and for His Glory. Therefore, I gladly serve Him and love my Lord.

In 2004, God gave me my wife Natalia, with whom we have been working together for 13 years and praising God.

Often, I tell people the story of my life, and one day, I was asked a question: if you could start life all over again, what would you change in it? I answered without hesitation that I would like to be born in a Christian family, so that I would know and love God from childhood, then I would never have experienced this hell and slavery under the rule of Satan.

But I rejoice that God is stronger, He has found me, saved, changed, purified, redeemed and glorified Himself in my life! And all the glory and gratitude be to Him!

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Literature in Lithuania

Our dear friends and fellow partners of our ministry,

 

This year Reformed Literature Centre in Vilnius is celebrating 20 year anniversary of ministering the local Christians with solid reformed books translated into Lithuanian language. Over this period, by the grace of God and mostly by your generous donations, we translated more than 50 different books for various groups of readers – children, pastors, ordinary Christians, those beginning to walk in faith, and Sunday schools. Among the genre of books, mostly doctrinal reformed literature including confessions of faith, catechisms, commentaries as well as the biographies and different topical literature of well-known authors were translated, published, and printed.

But there is some literature that our readers still lack. We’ve observed it during the last couple of years as we met lots of customers looking for the practical and counseling related materials as they do not know how to apply the doctrines in their daily lives and deal with various struggles Biblically. Even one pastor did not understand the question when asked if it’s hard for him to apply the Gospel in his daily life. He did not understand that Gospel is not for unbelievers, but for believers as well.

When we translated into Lithuanian language the Respectable Sins book by Jerry Bridges, it became very popular even among Roman Catholics who highly appreciated this book buying it at the Catholic bookshops. It even has become one of the most-studied books among the elders at one evangelical church in Vilnius. That shows that there is a gap and huge need in practical books. Another sign for us was when last year we had a Counseling Conference where we had a book table with counseling books in Russian. We were amazed that a pastor of one Evangelical Church and his wife have bought almost all Counseling books in Russian we had, acknowledging that among churches we do not have serious Bible-grounded counseling for people. It was said by a pastor who is in ministry for 25 years.

The next book which will help to counter the lack of such literature is How People Change by Tripp/Lane which is ready to be printed. Another two books that we are looking to commence the translation of are on the topics of marriage and depression. After these we have ideas of books on fear and on addictions. So as you see there are plenty of topics to be still translated in our language and we ask you to remember us in your prayers as well as contributing the much needed funds for such tremendous work. We wish you God’s richest blessings through Christ Jesus.

 

In Christ alone,

Julius Jonusas

Director of Reformed Literature Centre in Vilnius, Lithuania

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6 Reasons to Pray

By Pastor Dennis Boris, Kazakhstan

1. Prayer helps us with understanding the Word of God. Just as the Word of God helps us to pray, so the prayer helps us with an understanding of the Word of God. Oftentimes when you pray about the passage that is not clear God gives you a better and deeper understanding of that passage. Besides that, prayer cements what’s been read in the Word. 

2. Prayer draws us closer to God. “The Lord is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth (Ps.145:18)”. If you want to be closer to God, pray! 

3. Prayer calibrates our wishes and desires and heals our laziness and foolishness. We pray so that our desires are such that God could listen to them. None of us would pray for something sinful. You would be ashamed to mention anything like that in prayer. Besides that, prayer heals us from laziness and foolishness of our souls. Do you know why we don’t receive what we ask for? There are 2 reasons for that. First is mentioned in James 4:2. We simply don’t ask. Laziness. Second, we don’t ask in accordance with God’s will (James 4:3). Foolishness. Prayer heals us from laziness and foolishness of our souls. We don’t know what we want. Let us pray for God’s will to be done. “He fulfills the desire of those who fear him; he also hears their cry and saves them (Ps.145:19)”. Pray the prayers that God cannot answer. Pray for the unity of the church, for the growth in holiness and so on. 

4. Prayer makes us grateful. We ask God for something and when we receive it, we are filled with gratefulness. We always receive good gifts from God because “every good gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17)”. Let us pray and ask and be grateful for God’s goodness in our lives. 

5. Prayer puts us in our proper place. Prayer reminds us that we can’t do anything on our own. All prayers are reminders of our dependence and inability. Every prayer screams, “I can’t! Help me, God!” I cannot understand your Word, obey it, share it unless you help. Help me, O Lord! “Heal me, O LORD, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved, for you are my praise (Jer.17:14).” 

6. Prayer helps us get reconciled with people and get people reconciled with God. If somebody irritates you, annoys you; if somebody hurt you, pray for him or her. Take it, as a rule, to talk to God about the man before you talk to the man. The same rule applies to evangelism. Talk to God about the man before you talk to the man about God. 


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WinterHelp and a Silent Prayer

WinterHelp and a Silent Prayer

Together with Pastor Edward we come to the old apartment building and visit a family consisting of three generations of women - grandmother Larisa, Natalya and granddaughter (also) Larisa (21). The elder Larisa and Natalya are widows, and the younger Larisa is disabled. She cannot talk, cannot walk, her hands practically do not work and her mental abilities are at the lowest level. It's hard for them. Grandma is also weak physically. A special experience was added to these difficulties - last summer their apartment was robbed when they were not at home. Robbers took all that could be taken. The family lives at the expense of the grandmother’s pension and a small disability allowance for a granddaughter. Our assistance was used to purchase diapers for the granddaughter, medicines and potatoes.

Volunteer Opportunity - Reformed Presbyterian Church of Miskolc, Hungary

Do you have freedom to travel, a desire to be a blessing to the church of Christ, and an interest in other cultures and places? The Reformed Presbyterian Church of Central and Eastern Europe church in Miskolc, Hungary is interested in receiving an English-speaking single or couple for 6 to 12 months to help with teaching English both in and outside the church, as an outreach project.

Life Eternal - by Pastor Denis Boris, Kazakhstan

Are you alive? Are you in Christ? Do you yearn for Christlikeness? Does your life bring the peaceable fruit of righteousness? If you don’t have this true life, repent and believe. If you do, live it. Live it to the full, knowing that you were created for such a life. Praise be to our Savior Christ Jesus who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel (2 Tim.1:10).

COAH Board Members Wanted!!!

COAH would like to add 2 new board members, one Canadian and one American. We are looking for energetic persons who have a strong desire to help promote the good of God's kingdom and church in Eastern Europe, and would like to invest their gifts and time in furthering the work of Come Over and Help. The ability to travel to Eastern Europe occasionally is necessary. If you are interested, please contact the administrator Raymond Roth at raymondroth@coah.org

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