Finding Christ behind bars – Train a Leader

Dmitri Dukhovenko began drinking as a teenager. By 19 years old, he was a drug addict. The next 11 years were a nightmare. At 30, he was in jail for the possession and sale of narcotics. During the trial, he attempted suicide by cutting his throat, but God marvelously preserved his life. He was sentenced to 27 months in prison. While there, believers visited and conducted services for the inmates; most of the believers were former convicts themselves. Dmitri decided to attend the services, and in a short time, he received Christ as his Lord and Savior. His life was changed. After his release, he started attending a church and was baptized. In 2006, he enrolled at the Zaporozhye Bible College and Seminary (ZBCS) in Ukraine and joined the prison ministry that had visited him. It was a poignant moment in his life when he made his first ministry visit to the prison where he had been physically and spiritually imprisoned to preach the Gospel. His testimony was astounding to both the security guards and the prisoners, especially those who remembered him as a prisoner. Now he has a Bachelor of Church Ministry degree and leads a weekly preaching ministry in the maximum-security prison. Many prisoners have heard about Christ and turned to Him. A new believers’ group has been formed; they in turn will emerge to freedom as Christians like Dmitri.

Fifteen years ago, Sergei Reus was invited to participate in a church service in one of Odessa’s prisons. Deeply inspired, he continued attending. “The more I was there, the more God was opening me up for what He wanted me to do: to carry out a ministry among the people staying in institutions of confinement.” Feeling he lacked enough biblical knowledge for the task, he attended a one year missionary training program at the Odessa Theological Seminary (OTS) in Ukraine. “The program was just [what I needed]. What I learned in the seminary is still a very good knowledge base for my ministry.” In 2000, Sergei was ordained for pastoral ministry among prisoners. “I always felt that I had to do something for people staying inside [the prisons].” Today, a team of Christians from several churches assist Sergei in his ministry. They regularly visit men’s and women’s prisons and investigative isolation wards. “I have seen many inmates accepting Jesus into their hearts, and after being discharged, [they] become members of local churches, start families and raise children.” Some of the former inmates are even working on the team now. “As we do our ministry, we trust that God would bring…many more people who are now in the slavery of sin.

“…This is my gospel, for which I am suffering even to the point of being chained like a criminal. But God’s word is not chained.” 2 Timothy 2:8b-9