Oleg and his father rarely got along. Like many families in Russia, Oleg’s father struggled with alcoholism, causing him to lash out in anger at his son and wife.
After awhile the abuse grew to be unbearable and Oleg’s mother divorced his father, moving the family from St. Petersburg to Moscow.
School for the Blind
It was in Moscow that Oleg started to go to a specialized boarding school for the blind. For six days out of the week Oleg would eat, sleep and go to school away from his home and his mother.
Oleg’s exposure to the Gospel started during this time because of shortwave radio.
“I went to a specialized school for the blind and I had a pocket-sized shortwave receiver with an earpiece. In the sleeping room, which housed about 15 people, I would lie awake, listening through that earphone till 11:30pm.”
He was listening to a rock program from the BBC when he heard a Christian band play on the air. He was surprised, thinking: “there must be young people who are Christians as well.” Until then, Christianity was just a religion he had only heard about from an older generation.
From that point on, Oleg started to listen to Christian broadcasting from several different stations, including FEBC, and in February, 1987, Oleg gave his life to Christ, responding to an old-fashioned altar call.
After becoming a Christian, Oleg went to the University of Moscow for a degree in linguistics and during this time he got in touch with his father, who he had only spoken to a couple of times over the years.
“We had met a few times after the divorce but my dad was really difficult. He would lose his temper all the time because of his alcoholism, and couldn’t control himself. One day, I finally said, “Dad you are squandering you life.” He replied, “I don’t care what you think about my life, I can handle it myself.””
In 1992 I got engaged and I invited my father to the wedding. He refused to come, saying, “There are going to be all those Christians there and I don’t want to have anything to do with them.” This turned out to be the last time I saw him.”
Ten years passed, and in 2011, FEBC Russia invited Oleg to be a guest speaker on their programs that were airing in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The program’s subject was on what it means for God to be our father.
“On the program I was telling good stories about my dad and how much my dad had taught me, and that how so much of what our dads teach us stays with us through our lives. I then said, “Now let’s take this to a new level. What our heavenly Father does for us and what He does for us through Jesus, stays with us, not just in our lifetimes, but for eternity.”
“The program went well, ended, and I went home.
“But, that same evening the phone rang, and on the other end of the line was someone I hadn’t heard from in 10 years…my dad.”
Oleg’s father had been in a hospital in St. Petersburg with his new wife, who had just had a stroke. She was confined to a bed, and too sick to do anything on her own, she had asked Oleg’s father to find a radio station that she could listen to.
No politics, and no news—it had to be something calming. As he turned the dial searching for a station, Oleg’s father found FEBC Russia, and heard a familiar voice. He heard his son talking about him in a positive light, and was shocked.
“He calls me and asks, “Son, I don’t understand one thing. I hurt you and your mother tremendously, how can you could talk about me so positively?” “Dad,” I said, “On my own I simply couldn’t, but you know, the gist of the program I was just on is about what Jesus does for us. That’s exactly what He did. He changed me and that’s the only reason I could talk about you in the way that I did. I love you, and I forgive you.””
Oleg and his father talked for 2 hours on the phone, and at the end he gave his life to Jesus.
Two months later, his father passed away from complications with his liver, due to his lifelong alcoholism.
But Oleg was at peace. God had allowed him to reconnect with his father from miles away, and to witness his salvation, something he never thought would happen.
Oleg* is a now a broadcaster at FEBC Russia in Moscow, Russia.
*last name withheld due to security