There is a very special church in Kharkov named Kingdom of God, which also runs a Christian rehabilitation center. It is a “niche” church because it is comprised mostly of recovering drug and alcohol addicts. Both the church and rehabilitation center meet the needs of the most distressed in society, outside of orphans. However, you would not know this by the joy that you see on the faces of these people because of their newfound freedom in Christ and from their addiction.
The pastors themselves are also former drug addicts, who began these two ministries a few years ago. One of the two pastors (whose name is Igor) met his wife in the church, and married her despite the fact the she has AIDS. What a testimony to Christ’s love. He married his sweetheart despite the risk to himself!
Not only is this a thriving church, but the Christian rehabilitation center is nationally and locally recognized by the secular government. The residents explained to me that this is one of the few places available in the entire country that ministers to addicts suffering from AIDS. Truly this ministry is a beacon of hope in an overwhelmingly hopeless situation.
Needless to say, I felt honored and blessed to preach in this church of about 200 people last summer. When I gave the altar call at the end of the sermon, six people accepted Jesus as their Savior (You can see the photos at the end of the letter). It was a very joyful moment. The pastors were delightfully praising God for those six conversions.
But despite my joy, I also experienced heartbreak when one of the six converts cried and asked me to pray and intercede for his wife who had just been diagnosed with AIDS, and did not know Jesus as her Savior. After another holy moment when the entire church prayed, we all resumed the celebration, and many people came forward for individual prayer. It was a holy moment in time because you could sense the gratitude and joy in the midst of each person’s struggles.
A surprising testimony came back to me this winter when Artoem, one of the six converts who accepted Jesus that Sunday talked with our ministry. He reaffirmed his commitment to Jesus, and he testified that his life was truly changed since that day when he came forward for salvation. He is now forming a team of people to begin a new Christian rehabilitation center in the city of Dnepropetrovsk, which is about four hours away from Kharkov.
When our director, Vova spoke with Artoem, Vova said “I could see that his attitude was genuine and that he had much gladness in his heart.” Praise God! What else can I say, but praise God! Let Christ’s kingdom advance!
Please pray for the finances for Kingdom of God church and rehabilitation center, so they can continue to make an impact for recovering drug, alcohol, and AIDS patients. As always, thank you for all of your prayers and support. We appreciate you very much.