Slavic Gospel Association
Helping Churches
Reaching the Former
Soviet Union

Outreach News -
Prisons & Drug Rehab

07 September 2018
It's a Wonder He's Alive!

By the grace of God,
this man was given enough time to repent

“Looking back, I would say that I am only alive only by the compassion of our Loving God. If it were not for God, I would have died when I was four years old. My parents were not at home, and I tried to smoke cigarettes. I caught the tablecloth on fire, and then the corner of the house was caught on fire. My youngest sister was at home too, and she was a baby. A pedestrian who was passing by saved our lives.

“Two years later when I was six, my life again came within a hair’s breadth of death. The mighty hand of God saved me when a bread delivery vehicle struck me. I sustained many broken bones and my kidney was badly injured. At the time, my father was heavily addicted to alcohol and my mother was sick, so I became a social orphan. I was sent to a children’s shelter in Kobrin before I had reached school age. When I was in that orphanage, my behavior was so very bad that they had to send me to a special children’s home. While I was there, both parents passed away and I became a true orphan. I began to drink alcohol in the orphanage and also to smoke.

“Years later when I graduated from the orphanage, I lived for five years in my parents’ old home and continued to sin. I got married when I was 21 years old, but my marriage didn’t stop me from drinking. Vodka ruined my life. I had trouble with the law and was convicted of crimes five times. I divorced my wife; my children refused to have anything to do with me; and I became homeless.

“The rehab center became my second home. While there, I became born again with a true relationship with God at the center of my life. Our daily reading of the Bible, spiritual talks and prayers strengthened me and caused my faith to grow. I have re-thought my life while here in the rehab center. I also noted changes in the hearts of other people who are at the rehab center. The people here were also bogged down in their sins, but God has changed their hearts. God, through the Holy Spirit, literally has raised us from the ashes. Praise the Lord!”

Many of our missionary pastors reach out to the community through their church-based drug rehabilitation centers. This testimony came via Pastor Vladimir in Belarus. You can help Pastor Vladimir and others reach out to hopeless criminals and addicts by designating your giving to our Prisons & Drug Rehab Ministry fund.

31 July 2018
Out of the Tunnel of Darkness

Denis got involved in New Age spirituality

(This report comes from one of the SGA-sponsored prison-ministry centres in Belarus.)

My name is Denis. I'm 36 years old. I was born to an unbelieving family, where no one ever talked about God.

One day, when I was 8, I happened to get a pamphlet about Jesus Christ. After reading it, I came to believe that Jesus lived on earth, did good works, and that I needed to do good works to be saved. I decided to try, but then I found it difficult to fit in with my peers, so good deeds were often replaced by disorderly conduct. Guilt would compel me to go to the Orthodox church, but it didn’t get better.

I later became acquainted with some people, who were into different religions; who claimed that the God of the Jews was not really God, but some energy. Buddhism, Hinduism, Krishna, Veda, Old Ritualism, Osho, Castaneda... I tried many things - many practices, evil magic, lucid dreams, etc. Thinking I was under the protection of these forces, I did what I wanted.

Before long, I received a suspended sentence. Soon after that, I got sent to jail for 3 and a half years. Once in the camp, I bitterly regretted the life I’d been leading. I realised right away I had to change something. Somehow, I remembered about God and decided to seek His forgiveness. Though ridiculed by other inmates, I started visiting the Orthodox church in the penal colony. I learned the Lord’s Prayer, tried to read the Bible, and got baptised for a second time (I was baptised for the first time in infancy).

Finally, I was granted an early release so I thought I was under divine protection! Upon release I returned to my old life, even observing my former religions and beliefs. A short time after that, I committed another crime and was sentenced to 3 years and 2 months in a high-security prison. This was when I finally gave up. I was entertaining thoughts of committing suicide, but the Lord miraculously stopped me.

One day, I met a guy who was also seeking. I saw he had an evangelical Bible study guide, and I asked to borrow it. When I got to John 14:14, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.” I wondered: Is it true? Is there a God? Does He hear my prayers? So I asked Him for something I couldn’t do in my own strength - to quit smoking. The next day I was smoking again and felt very disappointed in God. I decided to give up reading the Bible. But the next day, my desire to smoke had completely disappeared! That evening I felt urged to resume studying the Bible. I eagerly absorbed everything that was written there. I gave my life to Jesus and repented of my sins. A heavy load fell from my shoulders! I started attending the (SGA sponsored) Bible study.

When I was eventually released, I joined a local House of Prayer (church). I realised the Lord was calling me to minister in prisons. So I have started making visits and writing to prisoners. Recently, a joyful event happened in my own family: my mother got baptised!

Glory to our Lord that He saved me, washed my sins and showed the true way! Praise and glory be unto Him for all eternity! Amen!

29 January 2018
Kids Recognise Former Addict, Uncle Sergei

'Uncle Sergei' was living on the streets
before his conversion

Many testimonies have come to us from Russia and its neighbouring countries about men, women, and children being gloriously saved out of sin and despair! Each powerful testimony, especially when accompanied by visible changes, can convince others to believe. Here is one example: After last year’s Christmas outreach in Kabardino-Balkaria, SGA-sponsored missionary pastor Viktor wrote how a former alcoholic named Sergei amazed a group of needy children and their mother ...

“At this state sanatorium, there are 200 children who stay there for three weeks of rehabilitation. Then new children come. We offered to hold a Christmas program, and it was accepted. The children, parents and staff were happy and enjoyed the program.

I had invited Sergei to come along and help us distribute gifts. Sergei had spent 16 years in prison, and heard the Gospel when believers visited the detox centre where Sergei was staying. He asked us for help when he heard that Christ could set him free. We sent him to our Christian rehab centre, and there he repented. Sergei was baptised and now ministers in the rehab centre. Before his salvation, Sergei lived in the street, was often drunk, and slept on the ground. But God had other plans.

During the Christmas distribution, a lady with her children came up and expressed their great surprise. The children asked, ‘Uncle Sergei, is that you? You help with the puppet theatre? How did you stop drinking?’ The children told me that Sergei often used to stay at the entrance of their house and was often drunk. They noticed how much he had changed—he was dressed in good clothing and did not smell the way he used to smell when he was on the street. His eyes and facial expression were changed.

Sergei said that it was Christ who changed him. Others overheard this conversation. The mother of the children asked us for our church phone number and address. She said that she knew many dependent people and would tell them about our centre.”

17 January 2018
God at Work!
Terrorist's Father Goes to Church!

Vladikavkaz Market Bombing - 1999

Adam Tsurov blew up a marketplace in Vladikavkaz, killing and wounding many civilians. Now he's in prison for life. SGA-sponsored pastor Ruslan has been ministering to Adam and his parents...

“They had 4 sons, one is killed for terrorism, the second died in prison; the third – Adam - serves his life prison term as an assassin, and the fourth lives with parents and is an orthodox Muslim. The family lives as social outcasts. They are Ingush by nationality and nobody seems to like them. I have never seen them happy.

"We gave them the Bible and they began reading it. Yesterday we came for a visit and invited the father, named Musa, to come to our gathering, and he did come. He was shaken with what he heard in a sermon, and especially that people prayed about him, his son and their family. In fact, there were people in the congregation whose children died due to the bomb explosion at that very market place. These are the works of the Lord Himself!"

SGA supporters receiving our Prayer & Praise guide have prayed for the Tsurov family on 11th of December and 11th of January. How wonderful to hear this news about Musa!

30 November 2017
Guilty Lawbreakers Need Our Prayers

Former criminal, Ruslan, shares his testimony

“Then the righteous will answer him, saying,.. ‘And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” (Matt 25:37-39)

The Lord is seeking and saving the lost, even those that are guilty of some of the most horrendous crimes. Because He loves them, He sends His workers with the only message that can bring new life – that He redeemed them through the blood of His Son (Eph 1:7). The transforming power of this message is great, as Pastor Ruslan Osmanov’s own testimony shows. He was saved from a life of crime and drug-use through the power of Jesus Christ, and recently one of his former associates was also converted... “He had been imprisoned for 20 years, and for 30 years of his life was abusing drugs. Now he has been baptised, is married and lives in Moscow.” What a miracle!

Prisons ministry is powerful, but not always safe or easy... “In the photo, you can see me on a visit to the high-security facility in Vladikavkaz. Nine years ago, I witnessed in a similar prison camp in Chechnya and declared that I am a Christian. I was almost killed!” Praise God, Ruslan was delivered from that situation and continues to do the work. He recently shared some of his prayer needs with us...

Firstly, he would like us to pray for a group that were in the Disciplinary Cell (a ‘prison within prison’)... “The prisoners agreeably listened to my testimony in silence. The Lord touched their hearts. Muslims sat on the sidelines and listened as well. I closed with prayer then we distributed Christian literature and food.” Secondly, we can pray for those he ministered to in the Tuberculosis Ward.. “There were about 10 people gathered and among them was one important criminal kingpin. I shared from the Word of God and gave them Christian literature. I went back several times. The inmates asked questions about repentance and read the Bible.”

Pastor Ruslan in the Tuberculosis Ward

Thirdly, Ruslan asked us to pray for Adam Tsurov, an ethnic Inquish that took part in a terrorist attack. He blew up a marketplace in Vladikavkaz, killing and wounding many civilians. “Everybody hates his family. Their other son was killed, he was also a terrorist. They have a younger son, Iriskhan, also a dedicated Muslim.” Over time, Ruslan’s love in action has affected the whole family. “Iriskhan asked for the Bible and I brought him one. They started reading the Bible and seem open to coming to the church.”

So please pray for these beloved lawbreakers and for Ruslan’s ministry. “I would appreciate your prayers for my health [he has problems with his leg] for the Lord to give time and energy to minister to inmates sentenced to life-imprisonment; and for opening doors to pre-trial institutions in Nalchik. Thank you for your prayers!”

03 November 2017
Testimony of an Ex-Murderer

Sergey (front) with Pastor Kosykh (right)
and the Bible study group

“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin.” (Romans 6:6)

Looking back on his life, Sergey can’t recognize the man he once was… “weak”, “ungodly”, “depraved”, an “insidious liar”. The old Sergey murdered 3 people and is serving his 4th sentence with a total of 25 years behind bars. The new Sergey wakes every morning observing the “ordinances of God”, “thanking the One who created this wonderful world” and trusting God to help him be obedient and “observe His commandments.” This is the power of the One seated on the throne, “Behold, I make all things new” (Rev 21:5). Sergey Dudin’s testimony was sent to us by SGA-supported pastor Sergey Kosykh, of Novosibirsk, Russia. May you be blessed as you read this wonderful account God’s transforming power!

Read Sergey's full testimony here

02 November 2017
Female Prisoners Brought to Tears

Yuliya gave her testimony

Yuliya was serving a three-year prison sentence when her life changed... Now she is married, has two beautiful daughters and participates in church ministry. How her life has turned around!

Recently, Yuliya was back at the prison, but this time it was to testify about how God changed her life. The meeting was organised as part of a rapidly-growing prisons outreach in Novosibirsk. It was a large gathering; praise God, nearly 120 inmates responded to the invitation! Yuliya’s husband – also an ex-prisoner – was there for support as she sang hymns and gave her testimony. The heartfelt message from one of their own had a powerful effect... “Many of the women broke into tears,” says Alexander, a member of the team. “God’s Word and the sincerity of the songs made an indelible impression on them.”

After the event, attendees were able to ask questions and receive literature. 13 Christian ladies from local churches continue to minister through correspondence, so those who are searching can ask questions and express their needs. What a wonderful work the Lord is doing among those that have lost their way. We pray for His Spirit to work in their hearts, bring them to repentance and give them new life with Christ as Lord.

Literature was distributed

01 November 2017
Prison Ministries Novosibirsk –
Off and Running!

Mikhail presents a Gospel song

A group of prisoners gathered in a meeting hall at the prison. Some curious, some sceptical, some desperately seeking for hope for their shattered lives. An event would be presented by evangelical Christians – the same group that run weekly Bible studies. The prisoners were early, but they already had questions for these Christian visitors. The interest of the prisoners pleased the team from Novosibirsk, as they had waited so long to get access into prisons like this. It all started in 2007...

Sergey Kosykh

Back in 2007, a drug-addict named Sergey Kosykh found faith in Christ when the Gospel was preached at a rehab centre. In 2008, he settled down and got married, and in 2009 he felt God calling him to minister among inmates of prisons. In 2010, a team was formed but then not much happened... “For an entire year, the brothers would faithfully and prayerfully gather, but for some reason the doors to evangelism in prison settlements stayed closed for us,” explains a team member. “In 2015, God commenced to act powerfully and since then the ministry has been developing at a dramatic pace.”

Throughout 2016, the group was so overwhelmed with the scope of work they struggled to cope. And today, access is open to 11 different prisons. Over 2,000 prisoners have heard the Good News of Jesus Christ and many are attending Bible studies. There have been 15 conversions and 4 ex-convicts are ministering in churches! God’s Word has been freely distributed, too. 1,300 Bibles and 3,000 New Testaments are now in the hands of those who need it...

Literature is given to those that seek

So, the meeting-hall eventually filled until about 50 men were present. Brother Mikhail presented a solo and Alexander preached. Then Dmitry, who had served three prison sentences, gave his testimony. The reaction was very positive. After the meeting, many signed up for Bible studies and there were many asking how to get to Christian rehab centres after their release. Gifts of New Testaments, brochures and chocolates were given away and according to one of the workers, “It was a great time of sharing. They did not want us to leave for another hour.” Praise God for opening doors into the prisons; praise God for the enthusiasm of the prisoners; and praise God for the work He is doing in their hearts!

09 June 2017
Prison Ministry Facing Difficulties

Pray that Ruslan (right) will continue to have more opportunities to visit prisoners

Ruslan Osmonov sent an update on his ministry….. “The ministry to prisoners is now facing difficulties. However I continue visiting high-security detention centres in Vladikavkaz (Russia). Our recent visits were fruitful as I was able to preach the gospel and witness to many inmates. I gave out New Testaments, Christian literature, calendars, fresh food and treats.

"God blessed my last visit in a special way. I was allowed into the solitary confinement wing, which is basically a prison within the prison. A group of inmates were waiting and I started telling them about God. I told them about my sinful life before I came to faith in Jesus, how I repented, and about life eternal. There were many questions and God gave me wisdom to answer. One inmate, who was resistant at first, asked me to pray for him. And what happened next was amazing! The other 25 hardened criminals (who were usually disobedient to any authority) stood with their heads bowed and were praying together with us.

"I gave out Christian literature and New Testaments here also, as well as some food products. Our team has been invited to come back again. I also visited a group of prisoners who have become believers. We gathered in a ‘prayer room’ where I shared my testimony with them and had individual talks with two men who were facing probationers. Please pray for my trip to the life imprisonment facility in Solikamsk.

“Visits with inmates in the tuberculosis infirmary were very fruitful. Most are drug addicts. I am convinced God sent me there. They are dying spiritually, and they are dying physically because their lungs are slowly decaying. One prisoner called Volodya is at death’s door and he has repented. Praise the Lord! Please pray for a spiritual awakening in the prisons and infirmary, and ask the Lord to give us ongoing visitation access for preaching the gospel.”

23 September 2016
A Decree Prohibiting Prison Visits

Please pray for the lives that have been changed
as a result of this ministry

A new decree prohibiting visits to penitentiary institutions was declared in some regions of Ukraine. However, Pastor Sergei and church elders managed to reach an agreement with the authorities of the local prison and they were allowed to hold services there.

“Attendance is not compulsory, so it was wonderful to see that many inmates had assembled in the dining hall. Words of instruction and encouragement from God’s Word were shared and I called them to turn to God, repent, accept His gift of salvation, read the Bible and follow Him. The Lord worked in hearts and 8 prisoners repented.

"We are very aware that with the regulations changing in many parts of our country we probably would not meet these people again, therefore this service was especially moving and encouraging.”

Pastor Sergei added, “We do not know if there will be an opportunity to visit them again, so please pray that the Lord keeps the doors to the prisons open to us and that we will be granted opportunities to bring the life-changing Gospel to the prisoners.”