I know this story from my friend Father Oleg. He is an archpriest and parson of a church in Omsk, Russia He had hired a team of renovation specialists to do some construction work at the church, and it happened to one of them. Calling them renovation specialists was a bit of an exaggeration. In truth, they were ordinary construction workers who could do some assembly work. As it turned out, one of them was a Satanist. He did not say he was one, of course, but everything about him – his speech, behaviour and observations from the other team members – betrayed him as a worshipper of Satan.
His name was Lyosha or Alexey. He was a chunky young man, uncouth and unshaven, but quick and clever with his hands. And he was very loud. He was artistic, as well. He could do a spectacular tap dance, and he sang in English, German and even Japanese. But he had trouble keeping his mouth shut, wore provocative clothes and could not stop himself from swearing even inside the Church. His teammates mentioned seeing him worship some strange deity in a basement together with some other people. They said he knew the names of all the demons and would mutter curses in some unknown language if upset. Alexey wore black. He covered his head with a hood with emblems of rock groups and depictions of dark angels. His music player on, and earphones always plugged in his ears, he wore a menacing jeer on his dark face. He seemed sick in the spirit, and everything at Church annoyed him.
“He used every occasion to ask me provocative questions about Christianity. And he would do it loudly. The pious silence within the church walls meant nothing to him, and he did not care if others were embarrassed,” recalls Father Oleg. When he was talking to me, he never stood still. He was dancing as if I had asked him to do a tap dance for me. At first, I tried to call him to his senses, but then I realised that it was all in vain. So I lay my trust in God and prayed for Alexey.
One day, everything changed. The renovation works almost finished, and the team was completing the final touches. While Father Oleg was busy with his daily tasks, Alexey was up on the scaffolds. He was playing hard rock, singing along and shaking and twisting to the music. All of a sudden, he lost his balance and fell to the ground.
An old woman, a parishioner, was at church when it happened. “He came flying down like a rock,” She recalls. Alexey only managed to cry out his usual four-letter word before he hit the ground. “I was preparing to part with my life,” remembers Alexey. But before he even touched the ground, he felt as if he was lying on a soft cushion. A split second later, he landed on a heap of construction waste full of discarded construction foam and polystyrene that softened the blow. He did not suffer any major injuries. He only had a big scare. As he rose from the rubbish heap, he felt as if he had been born again.
Since the fall, he abandoned his affair with the demons and hard rock. He said so to Father Oleg and his teammates. He began to treat others and their faith with respect and became a regular churchgoer.
Today, Alexey is living in a different city, and he recently became the father of two sweet twins. He is still keeping in touch with Father Oleg, writing him regularly on social media. “I thank the Lord and you, Father Oleg, for my life. I owe it to His Divine Providence and your prayers,” he writes, gratefully.
As they often say, one needs to have the strength to get back on one’s feet after falling. For Alexey, that was true in the literal sense.
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