Guest / Limited Access /

Yaroslav Rzhevsky's life as a drug abuser began at the age of 15—when he received one gram of opium for his birthday. It ended seven years later, with him in handcuffs, standing with two guards, his mother, and a Russian Orthodox monk at the entrance to the Charitable Center of St. John of Kronstadt in Moscow.

Anatoly Berestov, a monk and neurologist, established the center in 1988. He believes prayer, confession, and Communion remain the most effective cures for Russia's millions of drug addicts.

An estimated 3 million Russians abuse illicit drugs. About 30 percent of Kaliningrad's 2 million citizens, for example, are drug addicts. According to The Washington Times, "Russia has become the world's new drug trafficking center for the Colombia drug cartel."

Berestov wanted something uniquely Orthodox that would address the "spirituality and mentality" of Russians, who predominantly adhere to Orthodoxy. He calls the result a "God-centered" program. Berestov's facility employs priests, medical doctors, psychotherapists, psychologists and catechism teachers—all Orthodox Christians.

Each client at the Charitable Center—roughly 2,500 so far—participates in Orthodox worship, including confession, Communion, and other sacraments. Those never baptized into Orthodoxy must be baptized while in the program. Berestov's ultimate goal is for addicts not only to be free of their addictions but also grounded in Orthodoxy.

Berestov said he first moves his program participants "away from their social circle of drug addicts." For example, Rzhevsky lives in a Moscow compound, miles from his native Kazakhstan. The intent is to isolate him from his familiar surroundings for at least a year.

After finishing the program, some clients receive additional ...

Subscriber access only You have reached the end of this Article Preview

To continue reading, subscribe now. Subscribers have full digital access.

Support Christian thought journalism. Donate to our nonprofit ministry today.
Tags:
From Issue:
Read These NextSee Our Latest
Also in this Issue
Subscriber Access Only
Return to Kabul
Shelter Now's Georg Taubmann talks about ministry and security in the former Taliban state
RecommendedRussia's Newest Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church
Russia's Newest Law: No Evangelizing Outside of Church
(UPDATE) Putin signs new restrictions that limit where and how Christians share the gospel.
TrendingWhy Do We Have Christmas Trees?
Why Do We Have Christmas Trees?
The history behind evergreens, ornaments, and holiday gift giving.
Editor's PickFairness for All: Evangelicals Explore Truce on LGBT and Religious Rights
Fairness for All: Evangelicals Explore Truce on LGBT and Religious Rights
It worked in Utah. But national effort by the CCCU and NAE will be more complicated.
Christianity Today
Russia: Liturgy vs. opium
hide thisJanuary January

In the Magazine

January 2003

To continue reading, subscribe now for full print and digital access.