My name is Vitaly Borodkin and my story begins in Moscow, in what was then the Soviet Union in the 1980s. I knew very little about God when I was young because the communist party discouraged the discussion of religion. Sometimes I saw Orthodox churches on the streets and asked my parents about them, only to receive very few answers. At that time, my parents were most likely agnostics, not knowing much about Jesus and the Bible. My mother’s side of the family, however, came from the countryside where some orthodox traditions remained. I started spending time with my grandmother in the countryside when I was about 5 years old, and without my parent’s permission, she baptized me in the Orthodox Church. The priest dipped my head in a gold-plated basin and handed me a cross that I wore proudly around my neck. Thankfully, when my parents found out about this, they did not really mind.
After the death of my grandfather in 1989, my grandmother started to visit various churches in search of comfort. As the Soviet Union came to an end, she started to attend a protestant church and sometimes brought me and my mom with her. I attended Sunday school, learned about God and, to this day, I remember those first feelings of God’s presence at church and the joy that caused my heart to tremble.
As I grew older the spiritual revival of the 90s in Russia slowed down and gave way to the worship of money, shopping, and luxury living, and my mom stopped attending church. At this time, I was a teenager, and my life revolved around Hollywood films and MTV. I became interested in rock music, learned to play guitar, and with time, I started to drink a lot, go to concerts and party with my friends. My grandmother continued to pray for my family until she died in 2006. Her funeral was held at church, and her pastor during his sermon mentioned that her place at church was now available for one of her relatives to take. The death of my grandmother moved my mother so much that she returned to church, repented and became an active member, serving in the church choir. I, on the other hand, remained uninterested.
After university, my life goals were to party, travel, date girls, and be famous for my music. I played in several bands and eventually started my own band, playing in various Moscow clubs. Life seemed to be an endless party.
As my 30th birthday drew nearer, my former carefree life started to fall apart. I grew tired of my work and started to feel depressed. I quit my previous job and went through two very difficult break-ups. I started to understand that my bandmates wanted to go in different directions and my band performed for the very last time on my 30th birthday. All of my dreams were shattered and I finally understood that I had to change everything.
I tried to be more of a responsible adult, focusing on things like my studies instead of spending time at bars. I was still depressed, but because I stopped talking to my old friends, I ended up spending more time with my mother. We started to watch Christian films together and sometimes listened to sermons online. One time, we went to church together. After the sermon, my mother went up to one of the leaders and asked him to pray for me. I silently asked God to change everything in my life. I didn’t repent that day and didn’t ask for forgiveness because I didn’t yet understand that I was guilty of disobeying God. But God heard my prayer and started to change my life.
One weekend, we were in a small suburb called Dedovsk outside of Moscow visiting my grandfather. My mother didn’t want to drive all the way to Moscow to go to her church, so we went to a small, local church, just a few buildings away from my grandfather’s house. I really liked the pastor of that church, Igor. He seemed cheerful, loving, and joyful, and always had a smile on his face. After the service, he came to meet me and asked, “Do you already have a relationship with Jesus Christ?” I answered, “Probably not”, but I didn’t entirely understand what that meant. Then he invited me to continue coming to church and to listen to his sermons.
I started to attend that church every Sunday with my mom and ended up meeting a beautiful American girl there. We dated and now she is my wife.
When I first began attending, I was invited to go on a weekend retreat. I made new friends on that trip and most importantly, I prayed for repentance and accepted Christ as my savior. After that I took a baptism class and learned all the main points of Christianity that I never understood before. I learned that Christ died for each of us, and if we believe in Him, and turn from sin to Christ, He can change our lives in a miraculous way. He can give us true joy and set us free from the chains of sin. I was baptized as a follower of Jesus and God truly transformed my life. As the Bible says in Ecclesiastes 12 verse 1: “Remember your Creator in the days of your youth, before the days of trouble come and the years approach when you will say, ‘I find no pleasure in them’”.
If you’d like to learn more about my story, feel free to talk to me after the service. Thank you.