I had a difficult childhood. My father was an alcoholic and physically abused my sister and me. Our mother had health problems and was often sick. When I was young, I attended an Orthodox church with my mom. We kept the traditions they taught and hoped that would help our problems go away. But our dismal situation never seemed to improve.
In fact, fear nearly paralyzed my heart. I was terrified of the dark, afraid I would die in my sleep and never wanted to be by myself. My parents hired various healers to try to cure my troubled soul, but nothing worked. Fear lingered around every corner of my mind. I could not seem to shake it.
Then one day, my life changed forever. One of my mother’s friends invited me to go to her church. This church was different. I began learning who Jesus really is. Over the course of time, God became my Friend and Savior. For the first time in my life, He became real to me. Sometimes when things were rough at home I would look out the window and be reassured that He was near. Even in the most difficult times, I knew with God in my life I would never be alone. All of my paralyzing fears vanished. I had discovered God’s perfect peace and trusted Christ with my whole life.
As a young adult, God gave me a passion to help children from difficult family backgrounds. I started volunteering at a local orphanage, but I was anxious to do more. I decided to become a missionary, but I wanted to be well-equipped before embarking on this new journey. That’s when God led me to Kuban Evangelical Christian University (KECU) in Russia.
I was thrilled to be accepted into KECU’s Missiology program! I was given such a great education. I was thoroughly trained and grounded in God’s Word and learned the necessary tools for mission work.
After graduation, I joined the outreach ministry team of a local church. We had a program where we would go into the community and befriend those who were disabled and homebound. We ministered in practical ways by being a friend and helping with housework and cooking. Our objective was to make their lives more pleasant. I truly enjoyed this work, but I especially loved the other part of our outreach ministry – children! I was actively involved in our local orphanage and children’s hospital as well. It was during my time with the outreach team that I learned you do not have to go abroad to be a missionary. There’s work to do right where you are – in your home, your church and your community.
Currently, I am the leader of the women’s and children’s ministries of my church as well as a member of the deacon’s ministry team. In addition to holding weekly Bible studies for the ladies of our community, I lead out in our puppet ministry for children called God’s Ladybug. My team and I regularly visit the children’s hospital and our local orphanage to share God’s love with many precious children. It is wonderful sharing the Good News with young and old alike through fun and interactive puppet shows.
Once a timid, abused, fearful little girl, God has transformed me into a mighty missionary for Him. It is an awesome privilege to work for God!
“I genuinely love the ministries God has ordained me to be a part of! Thank you for helping us further God’s work in our corner of the world.”
– Olesya Shchepeleva