Soldier, Gangster, Pastor

In this post Roy Stiff tells the story of Slava, former soldier and gangster who now serves God in Moldova

Slava usually starts his testimony from right before the fall of the Soviet Union. Slava was in the Soviet military, and in his words, a “believer”, not in Jesus, but in communism.

He was sent to Chechnya during the first war there, and he became disgusted with what he saw. The Soviet Union was on the verge of breaking up, and the corruption in the military had reached new lows. Virtually everything was for sale.

Slava and two of his buddies, eventually left Chechnya and made their way back to Moldova, where they started an extortion and racketeering gang. Slava became deeply involved in violence and alcohol.

When he first heard of God’s forgiveness he gladly prayed “the Prayer”. He was so excited and thankful, that he went and celebrated the only way that he knew how: by getting drunk. It was a few months later at a Christian meeting where he says that he got on his knees and repented, and where God got a hold of his life.

The first time that Slava told me his testimony, even though he met Christ over 20 years ago, his eyes stilled welled up with tears as he told me how deep was God’s forgiveness for all the terrible things that he had done, both in Chechnya and as the leader of his criminal gang. He is forever thankful for the new life and new mission that God has given him in Jesus.

Slava and his wife Lilya lead a house church. He also leads a men’s group, as well as an outreach to youth at a youth center in his city.

Slava is testimony that there is no one, absolutely no one, who is beyond God’s grace, and whom God cannot change. Drugs, alcohol, violence, victimhood (real or imagined), divorce, broken heart, poverty, God can redeem it, all through Jesus.

Please pray for God’s continued blessing on Slava and Lilya, that God would give them growth in their church, and that God would give them wisdom concerning their future. There is a desire to come on staff, but there are obstacles, one of which is their lack of support. Because Slava and Lilya are volunteers who do not speak English, if you would like to pray regularly for them, or support them, you will need to contact me ( I will gladly explain how you can be a part and help.