Vladimir grew up alone with his mother. At the age of 13 he was willing to live for two weeks without food so they could afford to buy a Bible. The following year he was baptized as a Seventh-day Adventist, but was then asked to leave his secondary school because, according to the school’s principal, Vladimir had joined a “sect.”
After being forced to leave his school, Vladimir eventually found another place where he was able to complete his high school education. Hoping to study at the Ukrainian Adventist Center of Higher Education in Bucha (near Kiev), Vladimir took the entrance exam—but failed.
His faith still strong, he decided to go to work in security services in the central Ukrainian city of Kirovograd. Vladimir soon became known for his excellent work, and before long he was transferred to the capital city of Kiev, where he was promoted to a substitute manager for one of the largest fruit companies in Ukraine.
But Vladimir still felt that he was lacking something. Thinking that money would bring happiness, he put in 16-hour workdays. “I had a lot of money in my pocket, but I still wasn’t happy,” he remembered. He was offered another promotion, but it meant being on duty 24 hours a day. Vladimir decided that even though the new position would bring in more money, he didn’t want to have to work like that.
“I spent 10 years of my life working hard to have a lot of money, but I wasn’t happy,” he said. “Then I asked God, ‘If there is no happiness in money, what can bring happiness?’ Finally, I asked, ‘Lord, what do you want me to do?’”
Determined to learn the Lord’s will for His life, Vladimir searched the Bible for answers. One day he came across a passage in Isaiah 54: “ ‘All your sons will be taught of the Lord; and the well-being of your sons will be great. In righteousness you will be established; you will be far from oppression, for you will not fear; and from terror, for it will not come near you. . . . No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their vindication is from Me,’ declares the Lord” (verses 13-17, NASB).*
“I was amazed that all God’s children will be taught by Him,” Vladimir recalled. He wondered if this would mean going back to school. “God, I’m 27 years old, and I don’t want to go to school again,” he prayed. But he did want to be the kind of man who no weapon formed against him would prosper.
Not long after this, Vladimir’s mother died. Wanting to distract him from his sorrow, an Adventist pastor invited Vladimir to come to his district to do missionary work as a literature evangelist and to work with Bible instructors in giving Bible studies.
Vladimir enjoyed the work so much that one day the pastor asked if he would like to study ministry at the Adventist Center in Bucha. It was then that he remembered the words from Isaiah 54:13: “All your sons will be taught of the Lord” (NASB). So Vladimir decided to take the entrance exam again. “God,” he prayed, “It’s Your decision if I should study here or not. But if You want me to be here, please help me, and I will help others to know You better.”
This time Vladimir passed the exam! He is now studying in the theology program and plans on becoming a pastor. “When there is such a specific answer from God, you don’t want to ask for anything else. It changes how you live,” he said. His favorite class is Koine Greek, where he is learning to read the New Testament in its original language.
* Scripture quotations marked NASB are from the New American Standard Bible, copyright© 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995, by the Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.