The Impact of One Piece of Paper
*Representative photo used to protect identity. The thought of true transformation is sometimes hard for us to fully believe in. However, once someone comes to know Jesus, this is one of the first outward signs of true conversion. We see this in the life of Yusuf*: transformed from major criminal to dedicated follower of Jesus. He was one of the people who attended the SSTS training in February 2012, a Central Asian man in his forties. He shared his life story with Open Doors. Open Doors has provided a microloan to him and has provided biblical training. For the sake of Yusuf’s security, we do not mention his country. Here, we are invited into an interview with him discussing his transformation. I was the worst person in the world- I was a criminal and a thief. I was wanted by the police. I have been in prison four times; in 1995, I was sentenced to six years imprisonment. I was put in solitary confinement several times as punishment for bad behavior. During a very cold winter, they kept me in solitary confinement for 15 days. When I came out of the isolation cell, I found a sheet of paper with a prayer on it, and a call to repentance: Lord, forgive me my sins and I thank you for the blood of Jesus, which was shed for me. It touched me, and I learned the prayer by heart. Then I went to sleep, but the Holy Spirit was working in me. After two or three days, I found another page with a longer prayer. I still know it by heart, and often pray those words. With that prayer, I devoted my life to Jesus, and asked Him to use me to preach His Word and serve in His Kingdom. I put my whole life in His hands. I repeated the same prayer for eight months. As I had two holes in my lungs and was dying, the authorities decided to admit me to a hospital. After four months, I was released from the hospital and from prison. My enemies, however, had not given up their fight, and when I was in a car, they fired at me. I was hit in my stomach but I survived. For five days, I was in intensive care in the hospital. After I was dismissed from hospital, I had no place to go, so I started to sell drugs again, which was a very lucrative business. In those days, 1 kg heroin cost $40,000. We wanted to make a deal with some drug dealers, but the deal went south fast. The other gang wanted us to pay the $40,000 as compensation for the heroin that was lost. They shot at us, but I managed to escape. I fled to the desert, and became a shepherd. For two months, I was by myself, and again I prayed those two prayers I had learned by heart. God did His work in my heart, and after that period of time, I said to myself “Enough!” I decided to return to my hometown, and met with other believers and a pastor who taught me more about God’s Kingdom. Our country struggles with a high level of unemployment, and for a believer, it is extra difficult to find work. Open Doors has assisted me by providing a microloan to set up a small business, so I started a shop to sell spices. Christians are constantly under pressure in our country; we receive threats from our families and the authorities. Fortunately, our church is the only one in the area with registration. We prayed for three years to get that registration! When we meet in homes, however, we must do it very secretly without anybody knowing it, otherwise we might have problems. But we are strong and firm in our faith.