“I wrote to you,” she said.
As director of Russian and Ukrainian ministries, I often speak at churches. Afterwards, people often come up and tell me they’ve written to me. When Vera approached me with a similar comment, I asked her to remind me what she had written.
“Well I wrote to you about my suicide,” she said.
It was a surreal moment as we stood there in this church, with people talking happily around us and music playing in the background, all the while this woman poured out her story of how she had tried to kill herself…
Vera started by saying, “My family truly loved each other, there’s no question about that, but we didn’t know how to live together. It’s great that you are doing those family programs because we just don’t know how to live, there’s just so little material for families that want to stay together. The norm is just to get a divorce that families rarely stay together.”
“One night my husband came home and we started arguing as usual, until he said he had had enough. He couldn’t take living with me anymore and said that he would divorce me. “This isn’t the way to live,” he said. I stood up from our bedroom and ran into the kitchen, closing the door behind me and putting a table up against the door. I thought, ‘I have to end it’ and so I took a knife from the counter and readied myself to cut my veins, but then I thought about my children, my little girls next door in the other room. What would they hear? The only thing I thought at the moment was to turn on our radio so they couldn’t hear what I was about to do. As I did, I heard a Christian radio program and I paused. The host said these exact words, “There is hope for you in Jesus Christ.” I then just had an out-of-body experience where I watched myself put the knife down and knew I wasn’t going to do this anymore.”
As Vera shared this, one of her little girls comes up to her side and pulls on her arm and says, “Mom, mom let’s go.”
Pulled by her child towards the door, she reaches out and shakes my hand and says, “Thank you, Victor for bringing my whole family to church. This didn’t just save my life, it changed everything—this has totally changed the life of our family.”
Her husband didn’t divorce her and their whole family is now in the church.
It’s stories like these that I hear all the time in Ukraine. The programs that are on air deal with the despair that is ingrained into much of the culture. Especially now in this time of war, people are turning to FEBC programs to hear of another answer, of how they can solve domestic abuse, how they can recover from seeing a father killed—their homes destroyed.
-Victor Akhterov, FEBC Ukraine Director
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