The following is a testimony from Arina Starchikova (with her husband and their new born daughter), leader of the youth ministries in the GYM in Tokmok.
Testimony| April 2021| GYM
“My childhood was not easy. I had a bad relationship with my mother who was addicted to alcohol. We barely saw and talked to each other. My father left us, so I grew up with my grandmother. Because of my mother's lack of attention, I attempted suicide five times. My last suicide attempt happened when I was 10. Years later, I realized that I was still alive only by the grace of God, and I needed to change something in my life. However, when I was 11, I was involved with a bad group. They drank, smoked, and did nasty and scary things. Now one girl from that group is in jail for double murder. I felt that something was dragging me away from them. I am grateful to God that nothing bad happened to me while I was with them.
One day I had a fight with my mother. I did not know what to do, so I went for a walk and decided to stop by my friend's house who lived next door. I shared with her all the pain in my heart, all the resentment against my mother, with whom I had no good relationship, but only quarrels and scandals. She listened to me and invited me to youth meetings at the GYM. I had no idea what that was, but for some reason I wanted to go there. When we were almost there, she said to me, “You go first, and I'll go get my friend and join you later”.
I was impulsive but also a wildly shy girl. Thoughts started coming into my head "what if they don’t like me, maybe they'll look at me strangely and judge me." Here I was, standing near the GYM door, deciding whether to enter or not. I decided to go in. Now I realize that it was the right decision! The doors were open, and some friendly, kind people welcomed me to the meeting. From the first moment, I knew I wanted to be like them. The pain in my heart, and the wounds gave me no peace but there I found peace.
After two months of attending the GYM, I accepted Christ into my heart. At the age of 16, I was baptized and began leading youth ministry, dance, and English classes there. Now my mother and I have a good relationship. We have been able to reconcile and mend our relationship. I got married in 2019. My husband is a believer, and we have a beautiful daughter. It is all because of God, working through his people, and his place - the GYM.”