Leonid

    Leonid'The real life is within everyone's reach'
    My name is Leonid. I am 39 years old. I was born and lived in Moldova, in a family that kept Russian Orthodox traditions. My parents baptized me in the Orthodox Church in the age of three months. I was growing considering myself a Christian, ready to kill anyone who would dare stating otherwise.

    My father died early, in the age of 34, when I was 5 years old. My mother worked a lot to feed us and pay for the apartment. We, the kids, were basically left on our own. The authority for me was my older brother who taught me that in any situation I was always right, that in this world everything belonged to me, I only needed to know how to take it. My brother went to prison in the age of 18 for using and dealing drugs.

    I lived and gained “authority” in my city by brutal acts and other things beyond anything decent. I hated this lifestyle, but did not have the power to change it. Every time I would think about my day or my recent deeds before going to bed, I would scold myself and promise that it had been the last time, but in the morning I would wake up with the belief that I had done everything right. The Lord was merciful; I was not imprisoned. That was how I had lived - in the struggle with myself and according to the laws of the street – until I went to the army. I finished the service and got married. My mother hoped that having married I would settle down. But the marriage did not stop me.

    Since my wife had Jewish roots, we immigrated to Israel in 2002. I was hoping to start all over again in the new country, but here in my "new life" I was introduced to heroin, cocaine and various acids. My wife and I got divorced.

    Seven years of horror followed. I just wanted to shoot up a large dose of drug and die, but did not succeed. The Lord did not want me dead, glory to Him! There were moments when I would turn to God, and He would hear my unconfident appeals to him. Only He knew what I needed.

    Towards the end of that period I was living in Eilat, in the south of Israel. Sometimes I would go to Tel Aviv to get the drugs. On one of such days, running across a Tel Aviv street, I saw the following scene: an addict was sitting under the traffic light pole, his rotten legs exposed up to the knees, begging for money. Two men stood beside him. One had a guitar behind his back; the other was wearing black sunglasses. While I was running I made eye contact with the guy in the sunglasses. He said, as I thought, addressing me: "Brother, Jesus loves you! There is another life, a real life.” I asked with a grin: "Who loves me? Give me the phone number of that God, and I will give him a call." To my surprise, the men quite seriously suggested that I would write down a phone number. I remember it by heart till this day. It was a number of a Christian rehabilitation center. Later I learned that the man who spoke to me was actually blind. And he was not addressing me, but the man who was sitting under the traffic light pole. That guy, when he realized that the men would not give him any money, turned away, but at the same time God showed His mercy to me.

    The day came when I finally used this phone number and was admitted to the rehab. In April 2010 I started a new life, a real life. Thank God! What a Wonderful Lord we have! He used a blind person so that I, a “healthy" guy, would be healed and would realize that in fact I did not see the light which he saw.

    When going through the rehabilitation program, I had plenty of time to reconsider my life. The Lord showed me very clearly in my thoughts, how many times and in what situations He was there for me to save me. I started reading the Bible: at first, I did not understand anything, but I continued reading, listening to the brothers and their testimonies about their former life. And one day the Lord showed me the 24th psalm of David. This psalm entered deep into my heart. I read the words I had always wanted to tell the Lord, but had not known how to do it: "...O my God... Show me, O Lord, thy ways... Lead me... Remember not the sins of my youth, nor my transgressions... For thy name’s sake, o Lord... Turn thee unto me, and have mercy upon me... Look upon mine affliction... and forgive all my sins... O keep my soul, and deliver me."

    My eyes filled with tears, I hugged the Bible, pressing the psalm to my heart, and cried for the first time, not ashamed of my tears or of what other rehabilitants would think about me.

    From that day the Bible became an open book for me, and I read it all the time. A year passed and I made a covenant with the Lord by water baptism. And in three more years God gave me a family: He blessed me with a wife and a daughter. We called her Eve meaning "life" - in honor of the new life that the Lord gave me.

    Now I participate in the ministry for street people and give them the same phone number, on the same street where Jesus found me. We have a place there, where we distribute food, clothes, dress wounds and, most importantly, tell "us of yesterday," that there is another life, real life! Praise Jesus for His mercy!

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