Testimony of servant of God Alla B, USA
"Great and glorious is God in His saints".
Many times have I heard this saying but have never given it its proper meaning.
It's been 10 full years since I (being an Orthodox believer) heard about God for the first time. I heard about how God loves me as I am and that He wants to be my Helper. That was my first and strongest revelation which turned my whole life around. By that time, I was totally exhausted while fighting for survival in this world, among people surrounding me. I knew nothing about God, about numerous sects which call themselves "Christian churches", and that's why I had fully and blindly dedicated myself to the doctrine which seemed to me then as true and right. Only after a while did I learn that I had become a part of a Protestant church.
It was hard to go back to the Orthodox Church since I had been polluted with a false doctrine. I had graduated from a Bible school and a school of full ministry, being one of the best students in my group. Being convinced in my own knowledge of God's truth, I was easily despising the Orthodoxy considering its doctrine as harmful and perilous for the soul. Oh, how deep a deception that I was in seeing myself as being fully saved! But, deep within my soul, there has always been a warm and unclear feeling for the Orthodox Church. Time was passing by and there came a moment when I started doubting the Protestant doctrine. I started having many unexplainable questions. Everyone could easily interpret the Scripture while not consulting any sources, nor seeking approval with writings of the Church Fathers. All this lead me into a deep despair. I began going to different churches in search for the truth.
It was then that I began feeling the urge to confess to someone who could guide me in spiritual things. I came to understanding and realization that I can't save myself, even with all the volume of knowledge I had received. I started asking the Lord to lead me to the true Church and to give me a spiritual mentor. It so happened that by God's miraculous providence I came to America. The Lord blessed me and gave me a wonderful husband who became to me not just a husband and a friend but also an encouragement in my spiritual life. God brought us to an Orthodox Church. It seemed to me for a while that everything was fine, that I found what I had been looking for. After some time had passed, a series of things took place which forced us to move from one Church to another. We started to notice that we were turning into dead, ritualistic Orthodox believers. Even the beauty of Churches, monasteries and services could no longer fulfill that hunger that came back again. Only spiritual fellowship with my husband and several other people was encouraging me in the faith.
When listening to priests' sermons, I constantly had a feeling that something was missing in them, that they are not saying everything. My heart was telling me that it's in the Orthodox doctrine that the truth is hidden, but who would uncover it for me? Little by little, I began reading the teachings of the Church Fathers and only then the veil started coming off my eyes... I saw where the true faith is hidden - in their lives, exploits, labor, in prayers of the holy Fathers of our Orthodox Church, - which has been carried on through so many generations. I saw how God was glorified in His saints and began to experience an even greater need in spiritual guidance and didn't have the least doubt that God surely was going to bring me to the right place in the time which is right for me.
Thus, the Lord showed me Fr. Oleg Molenko's Internet site. I had been to numerous Orthodox sites before but here something happened to me. I literally threw myself at studying Fr. Oleg's writings with hunger and thirst. I began taking notes of his sermons which differed radically from everything I had heard before. That's what I needed - repentance. I needed someone to teach me how to abide in repentance, how to learn to properly pray so that my prayer would be heard of God!
I heard all of this in the Fr. Oleg's sermons - his firm call to repent, to not alter the true Orthodox doctrine. His sermons are different in that I haven't been able to see any waywardness in them from the writings of the holy Fathers, when I study them. On the opposite, Fr. Oleg has always founded himself on the teachings of the holy Church Fathers, constantly referring to their works. His sermons have become a real challenge to me. Shall I be able to live out what Fr. Oleg is calling me to, according to God's commandments? I spent much time pondering upon this question and praying and came to the conclusion that I would be able, if Fr. Oleg himself became my spiritual father, my pastor, counselor and helper. I was literally astounded by this man's lack of favoritism in his sermons and answers. He calls people to repentance, thus, he must himself be abiding in repentance, not fearing people's judgments.
I recall the wonderful time when I was studying materials from the site. I will never forget the nights filled with such meaning, as if the Almighty God Himself was invisibly touching me, showing more and more the truthfulness of the Orthodox doctrine to me. It's then, having learned about general confession, I began repenting in my soul of all of my sins before Fr. Oleg, not having seen nor personally met him. After a short time, I had a testimony in my soul which confirmed that he is the man, the graceful priest that was meant to become my spiritual father. I made a firm decision to meet Fr. Oleg, to make my confession, to be baptized by threefold immersion, according to the rule, along with all prayers and to accept Fr. Oleg as my spiritual father and to enter into the true and immovable Orthodox Church under the guidance of the Apostle of love himself, John the Divine.
My husband and I have been members of the Church of John the Divine in Toronto. We have to travel from the USA to Canada to attend liturgies, but we do this with unspoken gladness because we always get filled with grace, knowledge and joy from God there. We have received many amazing blessing this last year. The Lord blessed my husband's and my secret desire and gave us a son (we haven't had children for five years). When I was 4 months pregnant, I had miscarriage threat. Fr. Oleg, having put aside all his business, came to visit me. There at the hospital, he laid hands upon my head and prayed for my healing. During his prayer, I felt very bad all of a sudden, I started feeling dizziness and weakness. I could hardly stay through the prayer and wanted to lie down, but - oh miracle! - When Fr. Oleg finished his prayer, I suddenly felt well again, and not just well - I felt unusual lightness, a fresh wave of strength and joy filled my heart.
I cannot stop thanking the Lord for all the good He's done in my sinful life. He's sent me a spiritual father who cares about me by edifying, correcting and comforting me on my way to the Lord. This man's life is obvious. His words never contradict his works, deeds, his life. He is steadfastly holding onto the true Orthodox doctrine, keeping the regulations of the Church, the Apostles' commandments. He never pleases men, but always pleases God, always speaks the truth, that is, the Words of God, not dissolving them with his opinions or desires of men.
Even now, it's been a year since we came to the true Church, and I, when studying the writings of the holy Fathers and constantly listening to Fr. Oleg's sermons, more fully realize how important it is to know and to understand who you've entrusted with the most precious thing - your soul! Before, I didn't know, but now I know that to make sure who and what priest you've entrusted with yourself is each man's responsibility. Do his words and actions line up with the Church's doctrine, what is it that he teaches and where is he guiding you?
Never before and nowhere have I seen graceful Churches, it always felt that it wasn't it, something was missing. Only now, looking back, I realize what was missing - GOD'S GRACE.
Churches are dead in their essence. Abomination and desolation stand in churches, according to the holy Fathers. No one is saying the truth, no one is teaching about the true faith, no one is calling to repentance. WHY?
It's because everyone is afraid, because their lives don't line up with God's commandments, they don't measure up their lives and ministries against God's Word, regulations of the Church, apostolic commandments. For they have loved this world more than they have the Lord. That's why they live to please men and not God, keeping people in false obedience, preaching what is pleasant to the ear, earning respect, authority, power and glory of men. Many of them, having been in the ministry for many years, can't even sain themselves right. Flatterers! What can they teach when they themselves haven't walked the path of repentance??? Where can they lead others? - Only to peril. That's why the true and pure Church's doctrine is locked away. That's why many people think, as did I, a sinful woman, when entering Fr. Oleg Molenko's site, that he preaches something new, something which is not in the Orthodox spirit. But it turned out to be vice versa, that I didn't know almost anything about the Orthodoxy.
I don't know how important my testimony is to anyone. But, if it can help at least one person in any way, praise be to the Lord Almighty for this.
And the last thing - I'd like to address those who are truly seeking for God's righteousness, for the true Church, for a graceful priest, - don't lose heart, don't let your hands down, but become wiser and even wiser in your salvation and the Lord will surely reward your endeavors.
I still have a lot to face in my life - many various tests, temptations, hardships. But I no longer gave that fear or concerns because I know that my spiritual father always cares about me and he will be the first to lift up a fervent prayer for me, a sinful one.
Praise God for those Lampstands who give light in this dark world, showing and shedding light at the way for us, who are blind and sinful.
"And vouchsafe me, O Lord, poor and naked of all virtue, to fall with tears at the feet of my spiritual father, and call his holy soul to mercy, to have mercy on me...." (St. Symeon the New Theologian)
With Love, God's servant Alla.