Russia (MNN) — Russia has the largest population of injection drug users — approximately 1.8 million people. Six of every ten new drug users in the former Soviet nation are in Siberia and the Far East.
However, one addict-turned-pastor named Alexander is now reaching other drug addicts through a denominational halfway house ministry.
Global Disciples supports Christian denominational leaders in Siberia. The denomination runs a halfway house for drug addicts and introduces them to the Gospel.
Tim* with Global Disciples recently met with Alexander and other denominational leaders and visited their halfway house.
“In this halfway house, we visited and talked with about seven men there,” Tim says. “Some had gotten out of prison not long ago. Others were there trying to break the addictions of alcohol and drugs.
“We prayed with them [and] they shared their lives and how through Jesus, they have been given new life and hope.”
Click here to support Christian leaders in Siberia reaching the least-reached through Global Disciples!
As a young man, Alexander was one of many in Russia who found himself trapped in a drug addiction.
“He had no hope and he was on a path of destruction,” says Tim. “The Lord saved him out of that and brought him new life. But the good story about Alexander is that eventually he went on to Bible school.”
Today, Alexander is a pastor and leader in a denomination with about 40 churches throughout Siberia.
“After Jesus changed his life, he talked about how he went to his old friends — those who he had done drugs with or he had sold drugs to. One of those young men accepted Christ and came to know Jesus.”
Alexander’s friend, Anatoly, traded his drugs for Bible school as well, earned his doctorate in Missiology, and now leads their mission Bible school.
“One of the things that thrilled me that he told me after this story is, ‘You just never know what will happen when you witness to others,’” Tim says.
Hope for Siberia’s Addicted
Russians clung to drug addiction and alcoholism as coping mechanisms after the fall of the Soviet regime. Since the Soviets sent many people to Siberian labor camps or exiled them in the vast, vacant land, Siberia was left with society’s outcasts.
“A lot of people live there without hope and it seems that alcohol and drugs is one of the ways that they try and cope with their issues.”
Knowing the spiritual plight of Siberia informs our prayers as we support the local Church.
“In this area that is remote, it might have been an area that is cast out,” Tim says.
“We’re praying and we’re asking people to pray with us that this historically exiled, beaten down place would become a place where God’s people are finding refuge.”
*Last name withheld for security purposes.
Header photo courtesy of Cherry Laithang via Unsplash.