By Dr. Claus Hecht and Mark Ellis —
Filled with despair, a Russian Buddhist woman attempted to take her own life. But Jesus appeared to her in a dream offering new hope and peace, and the beginning of a new life in Christ.
According to a report by SEND International, Yulia was raised by educated Buddhist parents living in Russia. By local standards, they were making it. Her family regularly visited the local shrine to worship and pay their respects to Buddha. Although her father was an engineer and her mother a biochemist, Yulia failed to get an education and did not enjoy her job cleaning houses.
When her father died suddenly, her mother slid into a spiral of depression, alcoholism, and abuse. Day after day, fights and arguments ensued and there were more and more problems. One day, when Yulia was 21, her mother — in a fit of drunken rage — told her to leave. Her mother’s last hateful words were, “Just leave. I don’t even care. And if you die, I won’t even cry.”
In the depths of her despair, Yulia did an accounting of her life. Her mother told her she did not care and her so-called friends abandoned her at the time of her greatest need. She had no education and hated her job. So she decided to take her life.
Suicidal brush with death
Yulia stood alone in her small drab bedroom. With some rope she found, Yulia fashioned together a crudely tied noose, which she hung from a bare rafter in the center of the room. She stacked a small side table on top of her dresser and began to climb up to grab the noose and place it around her neck.
She thought about her friends who stopped by earlier in the day. Their faces betrayed their knowledge of her pain, but rather than staying to talk, they left her alone.
She was more alone now than when her mother had kicked her out of the house. The voices in her head kept telling her how useless and unloved she was and that life was not worth living.
As Yulia balanced on top of the table, thoughts of condemnation, doubt, and depression filled her mind. Suddenly, her mother walked into her room and saw the furniture and the noose. She confronted Yulia and cried out for her to stop.
Yulia shared the hurt and despair she felt. She explained how abandoned and alone she saw herself because of her mother’s words. “My own mother hates me, what else is there to do?”
Her mother was deeply touched and saddened by Yulia’s confession and said, “We cannot have life without you. Let’s go back home and start fresh.” Yulia recalls that the homecoming was one of the happiest evenings of her life.
A few days later, a local Christian man came to the house to visit her.
“Yulia, do you know there is a God?” he asked.
“Yes,” she said.
“This God is not Buddha,” he told her. “He is Jesus Christ who loves you and gave His life for you.”
Yulia says his words pierced her heart because she thought no one loved her.
A week later, Yulia had “an amazing dream” when Jesus appeared to her. She asked Jesus the deepest questions of her heart, like ‘Why did my father die so young’ and ‘why does my mother drink’ and ‘why do I have all these problems?’
In the dream, Jesus looked deeply into her soul and said, “Believe in me and pray, Yulia, and I will save you.”
A month went by and the Christian man invited Yulia to a local Christian fellowship where God used worship and Bible reading to touch her heart deeply once more.
After several meetings, the leader challenged her and asked, “Do you believe Jesus is the real God?”
“Yes, I do believe.”
“Do you want to repent of your sins?” he asked.
“Yes, I do,” she affirmed. Yulia fell to her knees, prayed a prayer of repentance, and was born anew in Jesus Christ.
Since she began to follow Jesus, she admits she still has some problems – but she no longer faces them alone. She has her Lord and Savior by her side – and He has blessed her with a nursing job, a marriage, and a child. What a life she would have missed if she had given in to her plan, rather than God’s.
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