Sasha’s Story

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I grew up in a simple family in Kirovograd. My father is a miner, and my mother has been in sales all her life. For as long as I can remember, my father always drank vodka and “raised” me, my sister, and my mother.

Because of this, I grew up on the street, and the only thing my father demanded of me was always to tell the truth. Therefore, I was a virtual liar, making up all kinds of stories as I went along, and I was stubborn in my inventions-even when my father started beating me for lying, I still stood my ground.

I did not know what to do, so I decided to become physically strong. At 15, I began to train in boxing, and after six months, I never lost but won against everyone I faced.

The only thing my coach put into me is that everyone’s head is the same, no matter if there’s a mustache glued to it or how much body weight is under that head. That’s why I always hit clearly, right in the head. I liked hitting people so much that I deliberately, theatrically, dodged blows, giving my opponent the opportunity to wave his arms, showing what a loser he was.

I remember that my friends and peers counted their trips to the girls. I counted my fights. I had over 200 bloody bouts, sometimes with a broken nose.

After three years of this, when I started showing up at discos, cafes, and crowded places – everyone’s mood changed. I was once spotted by Kirovograd gangsters and started racketeering with them.

Therefore, it was no surprise to anyone when I ended up in jail. I was not the last person in the zone either, as I tried to stick to the correct “notions.”

But then something happened to me. After watching the movie “Les Miserables” in prison, all my pomposity went away, and I decided to go to a meeting of believers in the penal colony.

When I got there, I didn’t understand what I was doing here – an intelligent, proud man among the poor of the poor. Then I realized that that was when God showed me who my real brothers were, and not the brothers who were waiting for me in the barracks because I had food or drugs.

I started reading the Bible, even though I didn’t understand what was so special about it. The only principle in reading I had was to not smoke while reading it.

The first book I ever read was “Genghis Khan” by V. Yang. I was struck by how vividly and colorfully he described the fruits and sweets on the eastern tables, the motley tents, and the decorations of the warriors.

So when I read the Bible, I was really into the stories, like picturing Joseph when he was betrayed by his brothers in their colorful robes, etc.

When I found myself in a cell again (another conviction), I got to Isaiah 1:5 “Why should ye be stricken (beaten) any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.” I turned around and saw my bros – one had problems with his legs because of drugs, police officers beat another – I was the only healthy one. Suddenly I realized that I couldn’t wait – I had to repent; I realized the gravity of my crimes. I crawled with my head under a blanket and repented.

The next morning I decided to follow Christ. When I was born again, it’s hard to say because I still, after praying in repentance and making a decision for Christ, even after being baptized in prison, had sinned a lot, but I understood one thing clearly – I did not want to live the way I had lived before.

When I was released, I went to my hometown and the central church and asked the pastors for help. They offered me two options: either to Rivne, Oleg Beshta, or Makarov. I did not care, so they first called Makarov and told them I was coming to them asking for help. There they gave me the okay, and I came to rehab.

One day, in rehab, I realized I needed to give myself FULLY to Jesus, and I prayed this prayer: “Lord, my life is a blank slate. I put my signature on it, and You write Your plan. What you write, that’s what I’ll do; that’s how I’ll live.” After that decision, I suddenly realized that Jesus forgave me.

I went to rehab and got married. God sent me a wife who strengthens me immensely – she is a woman of great faith. I am slowly running my business.

I thank God for His patience and mercy toward me!

God has changed Sasha a lot – it’s rare to find such a kind and peaceful person as he is.

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