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Adventist Mission


Goodbye to the Past

To Sabbath School teachers: This story is for Sabbath, April 20.

By Andrew McChesney


or Vlad, life centered on money, money, money. He made good money when the Soviet Union collapsed and Uzbekistan emerged as an independent country in the early 1990s. During the day, he ran a small factory that churned out butter. At night, he ran an illegal poker business.

Vlad lived a high life with his wife, Marina, and they bought multiple apartments in Uzbekistan’s capital, Tashkent.

But then Vlad was caught and sent to prison. His wife left him. Everything seemed to be falling apart. In prison, Vlad thought about God for the first time. “If You help me, I’ll believe in You,” he prayed. “If You don’t help me, I won’t believe in You.”

One month and 18 days later, he was released from prison. He was a free man under a general presidential amnesty.

Vlad forgot his prayer and went back to seeking money. He got remarried and worked in South Korea for a while. Then he returned to Uzbekistan.

His thoughts returned to God when his second wife, Alyona, started attending evangelistic meetings at a Seventh-day Adventist church in Tashkent. She invited him to go with her. After the meetings ended, they kept going to the church. For Vlad, life stopped revolving around money. Life started revolving around love — love for God and love for other people. Three years passed, and Vlad gave his heart to Jesus and was baptized.

Then he began to work as a Global Mission pioneer, a missionary who shares the gospel to his own people. He shared the gospel with fellow Uzbeks. His once-large income fell to just a few hundred dollars a month.

A test of his new priorities came when he was contacted by his first wife, Marina.

“We co-own three downtown apartments,” she said. “Give them to me.”

Marina had been living in one of the apartments. The other two were vacant. Vlad lived with his second wife at her mother’s home. To change ownership, Vlad only needed to sign several documents before a notary. “Fine,” Vlad said. “Let’s meet at the notary’s office, and I will sign over the apartments to you.”

The notary was brimming with questions.

“Do you co-own these three apartments?” she asked Vlad.

“Yes,” he said.

“Do you understand that they are worth several hundred thousand dollars?” she asked.

“Yes,” he said.

“You are giving them to your former wife for nothing?”


“How long have you been divorced?”

“Twelve years.”

“Where do you live now?”

“With my wife at her mother’s place.”

The notary looked at Vlad with surprise.

Marina frowned. She didn’t like the notary’s questions.

“What are you doing?” she said. “Don’t meddle in our personal business.”

The notary asked Vlad to sign an additional document stating that he was in his right mind. Then she watched as Vlad signed the apartments over to Marina.

When he had finished, she shook her head incredulously and turned to Marina.

“While your former husband has this burning desire to give away apartments, ask him if he owns anymore,” she said.

Marina looked at Vlad.

“Do you own anymore?” she asked.

“No, that’s all that I have,” he said.

Then he asked her for forgiveness.

“Forgive me if I have upset you in any way,” he said.

It was Marina’s turn to look at Vlad with surprise. “You’re crazy,” she said.

Vlad didn’t mind her sharp words. He left the notary’s office with a spring in his step and joy in his heart. He was happy to hand over the apartments. They were part of a past life without God. He didn’t need any reminders of his old ways.

Vlad said in an interview that his love for money is a thing of the past. Today, he loves God and loves sharing Him with others.

“God provides for all of my needs,” he said.

Part of this quarter’s Thirteenth Sabbath Offering will help open the first Seventh-day Adventist elementary school in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. Thank you for planning a generous offering on June 29.