‘Where Death Reigned, Now There Is Life!’

The conflict in East Ukraine has long been forgotten by western media, but its consequences and fallout persist. That fallout has been tragically destructive – violence and death, the destruction of property, the break-up of families, and the displacement of hundreds of thousands of ordinary people. However, there is another side to the story, exemplified for us in the life of one of the men supported by SGA through its 70th Anniversary project ‘Supporting the Seventy’.

Denis Kuzmenko Working

Denis Kuzmenko

Denis Kuzmenko is 42 years old, born in the small mining town of Molodogvardeisk in the Lugansk region of E Ukraine.

He is married to Victoria and they have five children. He is the pastor of the ‘Narrow Way’ in the city of Kharkov, and also serves and ministers to two smaller fellowships.

His life story is a remarkable example of the power of the Gospel to deliver men and women from sin.

He describes his lifestyle before conversion as similar to the Gadarene demoniac of the Gospels, living in the tombs, engaging in every kind of sin and godlessness.

He grew up in the Soviet system, and in his words, learned ‘to take everything you want from life,’ and to ‘try everything in your life’!

His parents didn’t care about him. They both worked at the local mine and had little time for him. Moreover, his father was an alcoholic, and home life was dysfunctional.

Following his philosophy of trying everything in life Denis worked and played hard. Nothing satisfied – sport, work, alcohol and tobacco, immoral sex, and finally he turned to drugs. By the age of 25, he had become a hardened drug addict.

He tried many times to break free of this bondage, even changing his place of living more than once to try to throw the habit. He was hospitalized seven times, but not cured. He was prosecuted for illegal possession of drugs, but nothing brought freedom.

Unsurprisingly his health deteriorated seriously and he developed hepatitis C and stomach ulcers. Things at home also fell apart. His mother lost all hope that he could change and she left. His father continued his heavy drinking and eventually this killed him.

With both parents gone, the apartment in which he was living became a ‘hangout’ for drug addicts. I had come to the conclusion that I too would soon die.

One day he met an old friend with whom he used to share drugs. He told me about a rehabilitation centre he had stayed in. He writes of what happened subsequently.

‘In the winter of 2002, I went there and for the first time I took the Bible in my hands. From it I learned about Jesus Christ, Who He is, why He came, what He did for me. I believed that He died for me on the cross. He died for my sins. I was so happy that Jesus did that for me, to give me a freedom which I could not even dream of.’

Denis Kuzmenko Preaching

Denis 's heart is burdened for the thousands of young people in East Ukraine who die each year from alcohol and drugs.

He is passionate about ministering the Gospel to such people and in the churches planted in Kharkov and also Severodonetsk, there are many former addicts who have come to Christ and found forgiveness and freedom in Him.

He writes:

'My heart is overwhelmed when I see those saved from inevitable death. Where death reigned, now there is life!'