What do you get when you bring together a Christian former criminal, two non-Christian criminals still in prison and a farmhouse once used to cook drugs? With God and a strong Christian ministry in the equation, you get a place of refuge, where God pulls people “out of the garbage” and transforms lives.
In 1971, Inga Karstina was born in the Siberian village of Saratovka near the border of Kazakhstan. Inga became involved with a bad crowd of criminals and drug addicts at an early age. Her reputation in the village was terrible. People were both frightened of her and disgusted by her. For several decades she was in and out of prison.
But, in her late 30s, Inga glimpsed a ray of hope. One day, she heard from some other criminals that her friend Sasha, well-known and respected among thieves, had become a Christian worker in a local Baptist church. Inga explains, “At that moment I was tired from my life and was looking for something to bring peace into my heart, but I couldn’t find it anywhere.” Sasha’s story captured Inga’s heart and imagination. When she called him, he invited her to a barbecue at Operation Mobilization’s Discipleship Centre. If he could be changed by God, Inga reasoned, there might be hope for her too.
At the barbecue, Sasha invited Inga to participate in a Christian rehab program in the city of Novosibirsk, and Inga agreed. In rehab on September 2, 2012, she gave her life to Christ.
Just as Inga had once devoted her life to sin, she now gave herself wholeheartedly to Jesus Christ. She became an active witness in her village. “Through me, the Lord started a small revival in my village. At first my relatives repented, then my friends and acquaintances, then neighbors,” Sasha says.