I was born in the Soviet Union, the country that first officially declared atheism as its main religion. In 1960, Nikita Khrushev, Soviet leader, even promised that there will be no religion in the country by 1980.
My father died when I was 2 years old. My mother raised me and my sister by herself. I’m very thankful for all she has done for us. After Soviet Union was down we lived poorly. As a teenager, I believed in everything God, astrology, superstitions. I never denied existence of God, but He was the last thing that was in my list of interests. I was never attracted by Islam as a religion and saw religious procedures only during funerals. My dream was to have a good job and to become rich, have a lot of women and money. I believed that when I reach my sixties I will be able to spend my money to benevolence and thus earn my way to heaven.
When I was 17 and my sister 15 we started attending English school called International Learning Centre. We didn’t have enough money to pay for them, so our mum managed to find a sponsor who covered our entire course. This school was run by American Missionaries. They were not allowed into the country openly so they came as teachers of English.
I was always attracted to my American teachers because of their friendliness. Our level 3 teacher was very open and eager to go out with us. I accepted his invitation and we went out to have a cup of tea. I still remember it was Saturday, 28 November 1998, my father’s birthday. And this day I heard that I also have a heavenly Father. I was asked a question: “Farhad, do you know why you live in this world? I had no answer. He told me about God and Jesus Christ, about sin and salvation about the Lord’s second coming, showing verses from his Bible. He offered me to bring Russian Bible and I accepted it. On the day when I got my Russian Bible I got drank in the morning. So after the English class when I was in the bus with my sister, holding my new Bible, I felt bad about getting drunk and I made resolution not to have alcohol anymore. A day before Christmas I made decision to quit smoking.
In January 1999 Ryan (my English teacher) invited me to the Bible study at his flat where he and the other guys of my age were studying the Scripture about who Jesus is. On 31 January 1999 my sister and I went to the church for the first time. There I saw a lot of my countrymen converted and believing in the Lord Jesus. This was a clear testimony of who Christ is. So, both of us made resolution to follow the Lord.
However satan was around and tried to steal the seed sown in our hearts. We had a strong opposition in the face of our mother who is an atheist. She was afraid that we are members of a radical sect that is brainwashing us. We were not able to go to church very often but we kept attending Bible study.
For the period of 2001-2009 I had a problem of backsliding. I thought God was to slow in solving my problems and I believed that I know all the answers myself. I believed that I knew success formula. But all this instead would bring me pain and feeling of emptiness while my lifestyle wasn’t much different than the world’s. I didn’t treat it important to proclaim good news about our Lord and Saviour to others. But as Paul writes to Timothy, if we are faithless, he remains faithful- for he cannot deny himself (2 Tim. 2:13). I kept going to the church over and over again and was there every Sunday. God provided me 2 friends Josh and Tunde whom I could open my heart and who, I believe, faithfully prayed for me.
In 2008 I met my future wife Liene. We were just friends then. She was so excited about God and she kept sending me Gospel stories and testimonies in MP3 format or Youtube links to them. In spring 2009, I made a resolution to trust all my life to God and to allow Him to run it. I was inspired by the example of John the Baptist in John 3 who was excited that all his disciples are gone to Jesus. It made me fall in love with Christ again. All the things that were attracting me before, I counted boring and useless. There was almost no evening and morning that I would spend without devotion and listening to a good theology. This made to give up some of my big habitual sins. It made me to see the greatness and sovereignty of God. I understood that it’s not me who made decision about my salvation but it is the Holy Spirit that gently blew over me (John 3:8). I understood that the very same Gospel of Christ that led me to salvation will lead me to the very end of glory. I felt peace and freedom from sin and fullness of heart. After that every time I would meet with my friends I tried to share with them what the new things I learned and how important it is for me.
In the conclusion I really hope that this will be read by non-Christians. My call to them is to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ until it’s too late. And those who are backslidden I call to reconcile with the Lord without delay.