Twice a Soldier

Vartan Grigorian

Armenia | April 16

I awoke feeling sicker than usual. I tried to get out of bed, but I couldn’t even roll over.  This is it, I thought to myself. I’m dying. 

I had been an alcoholic for years, and my doctor had told me that if I didn’t stop drinking, the alcohol would kill me. But I still couldn’t stop. As I lay in bed that day I thought about how the path of my life had led to this point. 

A Loner’s Life

I was 10 when my mother died. My father and I weren’t close, and I felt like an orphan. I quit school at 16 to work, and was drafted into the army when I was 18. I lost contact with the few friends I had at home, and I became a loner. Then I discovered a new “friend”—vodka. I spent many nights alone with a bottle of liquor.

After I finished military service, I returned home. But I couldn’t find a job, so I rejoined the army. I was sent to an isolated military post, where I met a young woman and got married. The next year we had a son. My life should have been happy, but alcohol still ruled my life.

I was transferred to a new post. Because I was an officer with a family, I was told to find a house in the nearby village. The only available house was run-down and needed extensive repairs. But I convinced the owner to let me fix it up and rent it, and he reluctantly agreed. I made the repairs and sent for my wife and son. We could be a family again.

From Despair to Hope

Our neighbors welcomed us and seemed sincerely friendly. They were Christians, but they didn’t push their faith on me, and I didn’t ask about their beliefs. They knew that I drank, but they didn’t lecture me about it. Over the next several months we formed a strong friendship.  

One day some soldiers under my command were caught off base without permission. In order to save their lives I told my commanding officer that I had given them permission to go. My men were released, but I was sentenced to seven years in jail for my actions. This thought sobered me up, and I had time to think about my life. I sensed the errors in my life and tried to pray, but I didn’t know what to say to God. Still, I felt a measure of peace.

Then miraculously, I was released. But instead of changing my ways, I returned home and got drunk. Two months later I awoke so sick I couldn’t move. I realized that I might die. I lay in bed for two days unable to get up. During this time I prayed for forgiveness and help. I really wanted to change. 

I grew strong enough to get out of bed. I saw my liquor bottle and turned away in disgust. I knew I needed God’s help to overcome alcohol, but I didn’t know Him yet. I told my wife of my desire to know God, and together we visited our Christian neighbors. They listened without judgment and offered to study the Bible with us so we could meet God. That’s when I learned that they had been praying for us since the day they had met us. 

A New Chance at Life 

As I studied the Bible I fell in love with Jesus. Soon I asked to be baptized. But my wife wasn’t so sure. She worried when I decided to tithe my income, but I wanted to follow God’s plan. I rented some land and farmed to repay a large debt I owed. As I worked I grew stronger physically. Soon my wife realized the blessings of tithing, for we had more money than we ever had before.  

I was so excited about my new life in Christ that I told everyone I met what Jesus was doing in my life. My wife saw it too and soon asked to follow God in baptism. 

I wanted to serve God full-time, so when the church asked me to serve as a Global Mission pioneer, I gladly accepted. I realized that I was leaving the army of Armenia and joining the army of God. We were called to work in my wife’s hometown. In one year eight people have joined the church there, and more are studying with us. God rescued me from my addictions and put me to work in His service. Now my family and I are reaching out to others with God’s love. 

Your mission offerings are helping reach people for God in Armenia, where fewer than 900 Adventists live. Thank you for your help.


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