Evgeniy 'My soul was surrounded by guilt'
My name is Evgeniy. I am 42 years old. I come from Russia, from the city of Birobidzhan. I arrived in Israel in 1997, at the age of 23, with his brother. He went to play football to make a living and I went to work. Two months later some friends of mine came to me from another Israeli city. I got to know them in Birobidzhan. I went to one of them for a visit and there I got acquainted with heroin. My first shot was an overdose, and I told myself that it would not happen again, because I barely survived. First of all, I was really frightened, and secondly, my friends and I used to hate drug addicts. Many smoked cannabis, but did not use heroin. I did not like heroin, but this drug can patiently wait for its time...

I had no friends in Israel who did not abuse some kind of drug. At that time they were already in the "system". Many of them today are no longer alive! I continued to work, and on weekends visited my friends or they visited me. And heroin's patience was rewarded. Less than six months passed, and I started using the drug, and soon imperceptibly became addicted to it.

A year later my parents came to Israel (and all other relatives as well). As the time went on, they learned that I was an addict and became very worried about me. They constantly helped me by being very compassionate and by trying to make me go through withdrawals at home, or my brother would take me to the base where he played football. But nothing helped. I would return to drugs and would suffer from another overdose...

In 2002 I learned from my mother that my uncle was in a rehabilitation center in Haifa: he was a former drug addict who now served in this rehab. Mom called and I talked to him. I arrived at the rehab, but left it in 9 days. Then I came back and stayed for 2 months. These two times I went there just to recover, but on the third time I took a serious decision, and two months later the Lord gave me repentance. I felt I was changing: I loved everybody, asked all my relatives to forgive me, constantly wanted to spend time with the Lord in prayer. I could not stop reading the Bible. About six months later I made a covenant with God by water baptism.

Then there was the fall. I went back to drugs, still living in the center. At first I concealed my problem, but could not keep it inside of me for too long. It was very hard. My soul was constantly tormented by the sense of guilt. My former joy was gone. The purity that was in my eyes faded away. I repented and asked for God's forgiveness, and then approached the leaders and revealed my situation. I was transferred back to the first level. And then I took offence at something and left, and, of course, continued abusing drugs. I decided to start a methadone program, hoping to make a "ladder" this way and pull myself out of the addiction, but I got stuck in the program for about 10 years. In addition to methadone, I also used all sorts of pills. I already started shooting methadone and tried to get rid of it through rehabilitation programs, but after each of them I would still wake up in hospital as a result of an overdose... One day at work I fell down from the height of 8 meters onto a concrete floor (I was under the influence of pills), but God was merciful to me. Only now do I understand and see how God is longsuffering and of great mercy. Several times I wanted to kill a man, but on the way the police would arrest me, or I would come, and the man had been gone somewhere. The Lord took care of that as well. All the glory is to Him.

My whole family suffered. I'm sure it was very painful. I tried to switch from methadone to another drug, but nothing changed. Then I cried to the Lord. Tears ran down my cheeks. After that I went with a friend to Tel Aviv to buy pills, and he told me: "Let's go to the Christians in "Aviv Center" and drink some tea." We went, and at the entrance of "Aviv Center" I saw Ilya – a guy who was with me on the methadone program. I asked him: "How did you recover so well?" I saw joy and light in his eyes. He told me how the Lord delivered him when he was already dying, and I remembered how a few days earlier I cried to the Lord. I understood that God was answering me already! This thought made my flesh crawl. Ilya offered to pray for me. I agreed and entered "Aviv Center". He and someone else prayed for me and my friend, and from that day on I would visit the center regularly. I understand now that these people constantly prayed for me. I felt that! I could not comprehend why suddenly I did not want to smoke and why drugs were no longer interesting to me. At the same time I felt death at my side. Whenever I spoke to my relatives, I would immediately start crying. I began to understand what harm and pain I had caused them – something I had never realized before, being too cold.

I cried to the Lord again, went to "Aviv Center" and asked to be taken into the rehab in Ashkelon. The Lord granted me freedom. I had almost no withdrawal pains, and there was not a single day that I could not sleep. I am grateful to my Savior Jesus Christ for this rehab and for the brothers and sisters that I have found in Christ. Two months later with the brethren I started going back to Tel Aviv streets where I was taken from. There we feed people, dress their wounds and tell them how we were set free and that there is another life.

All the glory is to our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.

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