Mel Johnson, senior writer for “Godupdates” internet blog, shares this story with us. I believe it will increase your faith that God watches over us more than He does the sparrows. That’s why Jesus came for the broken and the lost because God loves all of us the same. From the addict to the thief and to the porn star — we all have a place in God’s heart. And it’s this truth that saved Viktor, an infamous drug dealer turned pastor.

Viktor fell into the drug dealing business in his twenties. He ran a major drug operation during the 1990s, which smuggled drugs into Central Asia where he lived. The job offered plenty of “easy” money, along with loads of adventure. And best of all, Viktor was good at it. So good, in fact, Viktor’s operation expanded. But it only takes one bust to ruin everything. And that’s precisely what happened to Viktor.

In 1996, Viktor’s success ended. Authorities caught him with nearly 9 pounds of heroin, which sent him straight to prison. For Viktor, it seemed like the end. But God was just getting started! Viktor’s long sentence behind bars dragged on. His mental state continued to deteriorate until he became suicidal. “I felt empty inside,” he said, “and did not want to live anymore. I did not know how long I would be in jail.”

And that’s when God got a hold of him! Viktor’s cellmate received the Gospel of John from his mother as a gift. He offered to let Viktor read it, but he refused. But one sleepless night, Viktor decided to give it a try. At first, it made no sense to him, so he gave up. Words like “the Word was first, and the Word was God” failed to register with him in any way. What did it mean? So, he put it away and stopped reading.”

But more sleepless nights followed, so Viktor tried again. This time, as he read about “eternal life,” and that caught his attention. He didn’t know anything about prayer, but he decided to call out to Jesus: He told the Lord, “You know I am not sure that You exist, but I want eternal life, and I want to be born again,” he said. He continued reading in the Bible alone in his cell with no Christians around. It was just him and the book.

Viktor realized that he was a changed man when some fellow inmates offered him some smuggled drugs. The old Viktor would have jumped at this. But the new Viktor turned the drugs down.

“Looking at the drugs,” recalls Viktor, “I knew that they would drive me insane, I was looking at death, not eternal life.” Examining John’s Gospel, Viktor wanted life, not death, so he made the decision to choose life. He sent the drugs back.”

Being saved doesn’t end our troubles on this earth. That’s when Viktor got some terrible news. Doctors diagnosed him with a terrible disease and informed him he had about a year and a half to live. The news should have crushed him. But instead, a joy that confounded his fellow inmates filled Viktor. Confident in his newfound relationship with Jesus, Viktor had no fear of death. He knew it led to Heaven. So, instead of despair, he found hope! He believed he still had work to do on this earth!

So, to everyone’s amazement, Viktor’s disease didn’t worsen, nor did he become thin and frail. In fact, he thrived! Viktor believed God was keeping him alive and healthy, and it was all by grace alone. And to thank his Almighty Creator, he and some fellow inmates started a church within the jail. The group gathered together to worship and pray. Soon, Viktor began preaching to the inmates.

Viktor finished out his jail sentence and decided to make his transformation of drug dealer turned pastor official. He headed to a Bible seminary, and while working on his studies, began sharing the Good News with drug addicts at a nearby rehab center. Now, he continues to share God’s lifesaving Word as the pastor of an underground church in Central Asia. And it’s no easy task. But for this drug dealer turned pastor, danger is nothing new. Only now, he serves and lives under the protection of the One True King!

“We realized it was not our own plan,” Viktor said, this was never my own plan to spread the Gospel and develop this ministry, it came from God. It is hard work and does not produce a high profit, but it works, exclaims Viktor!

How awesome is our God?! One of Victor’s favorite verses goes: “We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8-9) In fact, Victor is living proof that in everything we do, we show that we are true ministers of God. We patiently endure troubles and hardships and calamities of every kind. (2 Cor 6:4) We could say that Victor, along with the Apostle Paul said, that the road is not always easy. “I have been in prison many times. I cannot remember how many times I have been whipped. Many times, I have been in danger of death.” (2 Cor 11:23)

Keep this in mind: God may want to lead you to a mountain top experience, but first, you must go through a valley. That’s what Paul told the Romans: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us because He gave us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His love. (Rom. 5:3-5) – Dr. Robert R Seyda

About drbob76

Retired missionary, pastor, seminary professor, Board Certified Chaplain and American Cancer Society Hope Lodge Director.
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