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Ukraine: From the Morgue to the Ministry

Clinical death is the medical term used when a doctor determines that the body’s vital functions have ceased. The doctor verifies that there is no pulse, breath, or corneal reflex. After being declared dead, the body is transported to a morgue to await identification, autopsy, or disposal. They don’t usually wake up.

A prison in Ukraine

There is nothing “usual,” however, about Dima. He used to live the life of a criminal. One time in prison, tortured by his conscience, he decided to commit suicide. He broke a window, took a shard of glass, and stabbed himself in the throat three times. He was declared clinically dead and sent to the morgue with the rest of the corpses, but there he woke up.

Having one prison-resurrection-tale is extraordinary, but Dima actually has two. Also while in prison, Dima heard the gospel. There he learned the profound truth that God has declared all men spiritually dead, but that new life is offered through faith in the eternal Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was executed for the sins of all who would believe.

Today, after walking with Christ for twelve years, Dima is back in prison, but now on the other side of the bars. He leads a prison ministry in the same prison in which he was once incarcerated, hoping to give the inmates the same message of life that he once heard. Taking this charge very seriously, he has just finished three years of training at Irpin Biblical Seminary in Ukraine, where his theological education has been one of great joy and immense benefit. He is known as a man “who absolutely oozes love for Jesus,” who has never lost his sense of wonder at learning about God. He has already thoroughly recorded how he has been implementing in his prison ministry all that he has learned.

Dima is one of the 116 students who graduated this year from Irpin Biblical Seminary. The students came from Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, Belarus, and even the United States. Most will continue ministering as pastors, preachers, and evangelists. Many, like Dima, have ministries in prisons. Others help the disabled, lead Bible schools, or work in translating the Bible into other languages. But all of them bring to a dying world the only message of life given unto man—the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Dima grad

Dima (2nd row, 3rd from left) with IBS faculty and MDiv graduates