Once, police caught me and some of my street friends and brought us to an orphanage. When we got here, we started to protest. Just in this time the people from "The Right Way" came to us. They worked with us many days: spoke about our life, plans, future and our dreams. After that they told me about the harm of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, which we used in the streets. I was amazed that so many dangerous things are in alcohol and drugs for my health. But the most important impression I got when I knew that my body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, which I ruined so much.
Our new friends from "The Right Way" not only gave me useful information, but brought for me food and clothes. I asked them to pray for me and they prayed for me and also taught me to pray. I think and hope that I got a victory over alcohol and drugs. Now I don’t want to go back to that hell, at which I lived before."
This is the testimony of a 16 year-old boy in Rivne, Ukraine. "The Right Way" is the organization supported by the Luke Society which offers several ways for addicts to battle their addictions. "Our main purpose is to try to help people who suffer and who need our help and care," says Rev. Vitaly Korsunsky. "We hope to give people a chance for new life. Also our purpose is to give education for a healthy lifestyle with Christian values instead of using different harmful substances."
The ministry began as a dream for Rev. Korsunsky and his best friend, Dr. Oleg Kolbach. "We had nothing at that time, except our plans and dreams," Dr. Kolbach says. "But we were sure of one thing: if God likes it, He will bless us and we shall do it!" When Dr. Kolbach told his colleagues of his decision to help drug addicts and alcoholics, they did not understand his desire to give up his salary and lifestyle. "But I was sure of a special plan for me," says Dr. Kolbach. "It’s difficult to explain the reason of such confidence. But all my life I knew that nothing happens without God’s will in my life. That is why I decided to do this."
From the beginning of their ministry, Oleg and Vitaly faced misunderstanding at every turn. "Addicted people are the most scornful and problematic part of our society," explains Dr. Kolbach. "In Ukraine, we do not have many organizations or people who have a real desire to help or work with addicted people. Most Ukrainians are sure that people who have problems with alcohol, drugs, or gambling do not deserve any help. Unfortunately our people do not understand that addiction is an illness, and addicted people are the same people like any other. They have a right for help and a chance for a new life."
While Dr. Kolbach addresses the physical dimensions of addiction, Rev. Korsunsky ministers to the personal issues. "The main root of this illness of addiction is people’s spiritual emptiness," he explains. "Some people try to fill this emptiness with something which gives them temporary relief and helps them go away from the real world. The leaving of reality is illusion only. Our main purpose is to help people understand that only God can fill their spiritual emptiness. Only the Holy Spirit can fill that void. Only life with Jesus can give people true happiness."
There are five other people on staff with Dr. Kolbach and Rev. Korsunsky, including another pastor, a psychologist, and two who teach preventive lessons to students and groups.
"The main reason of alcoholism in our country is social," says Rev. Korsunsky. "Now our youth is a witness of a huge number advertisements about alcohol and tobacco on TV, in the press, on the streets and in many other places. Our commercial companies propagandize the use of alcohol and try to create good images for alcohol drinks in the heads of millions. Unfortunately, we have to recognize they succeeded in it."
He attributes unemployment as a cause and result of alcoholism. It is very difficult to get a job in Ukraine, and if one loses his job due to alcoholism, it is unlikely that he will be hired again. "Society does not like these people and do not want to give them a new chance," explains Rev. Korsunsky. "So such man loses any hope for a normal life and returns to his old friends and lifestyle."
Rev. Korsunsky and his team are discouraged with the number of young people who are drawn into the use of drugs and alcohol. The law forbids selling alcohol to those under 21 years, but the merchants are more concerned with making a profit. "So we can see very young drunken people in our streets," he says. "It’s a real tragedy for the future of all our nation."