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!