I first came to the U.S. in 1995. I had left my family and home in Russia to stay here for a year as an exchange student. I had grown up in a country where the government controlled everything; what we read, what we listened to, what we wore to school, even how much we ate. I had grown up in bondage to a political system, and leaving that for a year felt wonderful. I didn’t know much about the U.S., but I had heard of how people decided what clothes to wear, what books to read, what music to listen to, and how much food to buy. I had heard that in the U.S. people had a choice in everything. To me, that was freedom.
A Greater Bondage
However, after having been a while in this privileged country, I started to read the Bible for the first time in my life and I found out that I had not only been in bondage to the government of my homeland. I found out that I was in a much greater bondage—the bondage of sin. This did not depend on where I was born or where I lived. I found out that I am a sinner by nature. Enjoying the freedoms of the United States did not set me free from the guilt of my sins.
Waking up to Reality
On February 28, 1996, I went to a funeral home. I had never seen a dead body before. I was faced with the reality of death and that just as suddenly it could be my turn to go into eternity. A friend told me that the body was in the casket, but the soul was in heaven, because the man had trusted Christ as his Savior, and his sins were forgiven. “If you died tonight,” she asked, “where would you be?” Right then I knew that I would be in hell, forever paying for my sins.
But later that night I realized that if God said that Christ had died for my sins and I was free, it meant I would not have to face the punishment! I trusted God’s Word, and that moment I was set free forever! Free from the guilt of my sins.
“If the Son [of God] makes you free, you shall be
free indeed.” John 8:36 – The Bible