Zulfiya is one of our current School Without Walls students in Perm, Russia. Today she is thriving, growing in her faith, running a business, and leading an NGO that cares for homeless people in her community. But before her miraculous transformation, drug addiction stole 18 years of her life. She shared her story with us of how God rescued her from her addiction and led her to get involved in School Without Walls: “I could have died from drugs, and lost my husband and son and parents,” shares Zulfiya. “I never would have lived to see another day full of joyful laughter, the blue sky, and warm sun. Drugs stole 18 years of my life, and took my family and everything I held dear from me.
“There was one day in my life that changed me from a young girl into a lonely, miserable creature living in the basement of an apartment building. I would come there alone to shoot myself up and would stay the night there because I had nowhere else to go. I had no hope for the future.
“One night I heard voices of unknown men and I was scared for my life. That was what made me realize that I actually still wanted to live! I realized, ‘I’m a mother – I have a son. I’m a wife – I have a husband. I have parents who care about me.’ I couldn’t wait for morning to get my life back in order. I had always believed in miracles but thought they wouldn’t happen to me. However that changed – I went to a rehabilitation center and there I met Christians who told me about Jesus. I am a Tatar, and my people are Muslims who don’t want to have anything to do with the “Russian God,” as they call Him.
“But when my Christian friends told me that Jesus died for my sins and loves everyone, I experienced God’s hand on me and made a decision to accept Jesus into my life. I had never heard any of this before, and learning that Jesus had shed His blood for ME was mind-blowing! I read in the Bible that I am His beloved daughter and that He has forgiven all my sins. I realized that I had been believing a lie, thinking that I was useless and headed to the grave. But I learned that there was One who had come to save the worthless and the disillusioned – Jesus! And my life began to change and continues to change to this very day.
“God changed my life radically! Thanks to Him I now run an NGO called Do Good, through which I work with others to feed the homeless. God put it on my heart to serve people in the same situation that I used to be in. I also a run a business which helps provide jobs for people in the same trap of hopelessness that I once found myself in, and I use the opportunity to tell them about the salvation available to them in Jesus. This year I started School Without Walls, and it has been enormously helpful. I have particularly appreciated the NGPLI events which showed me how I can minister to people through my job.
“I now know that what is most valuable is our lives and that we can only live them once – we only get one shot at them. I now know why I live and what I need to do. Thanks to Jesus I am like a child again, just in love with life!”
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