An incredible miracle and conversion!
A miracle similar to the book of Acts
A month ago, on Christmas day, I had finished shopping and was on my way home to celebrate the event with my family. As I left the store, a man in a wheelchair approached me to ask for some money. He was with a woman who was helping him. I offered them some of the food I had just bought, and started to tell them about Jesus my Healer. After 5 minutes I said to the man that if he believed my message, I would pray for him and God would heal him. He looked at me shocked and confused. He did not believe it was possible.
One year ago, he had a horrific motorbike accident that almost killed him. All the doctors had given him a few weeks to live. Eventually, he survived thanks to a very expensive surgery, but he was left completely paralyzed from the waist down. All the medical records, he told me, indicated that he would remain in a wheelchair for the rest of his life. He had constant pains in the upper part of his body but was feeling absolutely nothing in his legs.
Unswayed by this intimidating information, I looked him in the eyes and said: "Arthur, I will pray for you and the Holy Spirit will touch you." The outside temperature in the parking lot was freezing, and as he started to feel an intense heat in his legs, he looked at me very surprised and encouraged. I asked him then to get up, which he did to his own amazement. Then I invited him to make a few steps forwards, and as he did, it shocked him even more. He was standing, feeling no pain anywhere, radiating with joy and wonder. After a few minutes, I pushed his faith even further and told him to squat up and down, which he easily did.
At this point, the lady who had been pushing his wheelchair was in tears. She was his girl-friend and she had remained the whole year with him in spite of the fact that he was paralyzed. Better than anyone else, she knew what kind of miracle had just happened.
That was just the beginning. Another miracle, even greater, was about to take place…
Saved from an evil and corrupt life
Arthur is a 40-year-old Armenian who came to Odessa when he was 18. He came under the influence of bad friends, and started to look for dishonest ways of making money. Being very ingenious and extremely gifted with his hands, he started to rob apartments. As money came very quickly and easily, he eventually climbed the criminal hierarchy in order to become what you call in Russian a "vor v zakone " (вор в законе) - "a thief in law."
These are professional criminals who enjoy an elite position within the organized crime environment. They must have no ties to the government, cannot get married, and have a legitimate job or significant property. They must have served several jail sentences before they can be given this status. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.
So over a period of 22 years he was convicted 4 times and spent 15 years in prisons and camps. Half of it he was in a solitary confinement, as he was considered too dangerous and influential for other prisoners. He is well-known by the top criminals in Ukraine, as well as by every judge, chief of police and mafia in Odessa.
Seven years ago he decided to not take the oath of belonging forever to the hierarchy of the thieves-in-law (once you do this you cannot ever leave). He was tired of such a life and wanted a family. So he started his own business of building custom made motorbikes and from time to time he was still robbing houses to add thousands of dollars to his income. During his captivity, he had read many times the Bible, as it is the only book allowed in jails, but he was never willing to give up his sinful life. God was chasing him, but he was not responding.
Finally, one year ago, he had the dramatic life changing accident that I mentioned earlier. He had to sell his apartment, his car and absolutely everything to have a surgery that would save his life. Being completely paralyzed, he could no more work and … no more steal! Abandoned by all his friends, he only survived because his girlfriend did not leave him. They were begging money on the streets and living in a small and miserable shack. Stuck in a wheelchair, with no hope of ever walking again, he asked every day God to take his life. The man was broken, in every sense of the word.
On Christmas day, Arthur met Jesus, his Healer. Three days later, when he came to our worship service, he met Him as his Lord.
Right away, on his own, he decided to give up smoking (which is something very hard for someone who has smoked all his life). We took him to live in our coffee shop (as it has additional rooms for guests) and there we studied the Bible with him every day until he was ready. Yesterday, he was baptized in the freezing waters of the Black sea (1˚C or 33˚F)!
Needless to say his conversion is a huge encouragement to me and our church. Many who knew him are asking how he could walk again after being paralyzed. How could he move away from such a bad life? I believe that Arthur will do powerful things for God.
He will still need physical therapy to strengthen his muscles, as they have been completely atrophied after one year of paralysis. If you wish to donate for his treatment, it would be greatly appreciated.