How did a notorious drug dealer turn his back from an adventurous life to a life of simplicity and service?
Persecution watchdog Open Doors shares the story of Viktor, a man who was in the illegal drug trade in Central Asia but now is an underground pastor.
In the early 1990s, Viktor’s youth lured him in the business of smuggling drugs. He headed a major drug operation from Tajikstan to the country where he lived in Central Asia.
The money was great and his skill at forming covert networks wasn’t left unnoticed. He was offered to smuggle drugs across the Afghanistan border—widening his network of operations to three countries.
Things seemed to be going well for Viktor until in 1996, he was caught with nearly nine pounds of heroin on him. The young adult was immediately arrested and imprisoned.
Viktor became depressed in jail and since the future seemed bleak, he didn’t want to continue on living.
His jailmate received the Gospel of John from a package and he offered it to Viktor. The former drug dealer was not interested to read the book, but after several sleepless nights, he decided to open the pages.
As a first-time reader, Viktor admitted that he didn’t understand the words of the New Testament. “Words like ‘the Word was first and the Word was God’ made no sense to me. What did it mean? I put it away and stopped reading.”
But, God has a great plan for Viktor’s life. When sleep eluded him, he started to read the Bible again.
“I read about eternal life,” Viktor said. “Reading about eternal life caught my attention. Thinking about it, I really desired eternal life, even more than I desired to be released from jail.”
While studying the Bible, he felt the presence of God and he felt at peace. His thirst for the Word of God prompted him to start a church with other prisoners. When he was released from prison, Viktor attended a seminary Bible college to continue his role as a pastor.
Viktor now leads an underground church. His ministry is supported by charity groups and his small retail business. The Christians gather secretly in a rented facility.
“We realized it was not our own plan. God led us to this ministry. It is hard work and does not produce a high profit, but it works,” he explained.
Viktor is a great example of how God can transform the life of a criminal to a life of a follower of Christ.
Opendoorsusaorg. (2017). Opendoorsusaorg. https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/stories/central-asia-god-transforms-viktor-drug-dealer-secret-pastor/