My life story
19 Jan 2014
Many time passed since first time I written my story. And many things in my views changed. 3D-Coat is getting regular updates, I am discoverer by nature, so my views got major updates as well. I am sort of man who likes to discover and asks inconvenient and sharp questions, especially regarding what we believe. I am Christian, but I am far from dogmatic views, it is not enough for me just to believe, I need analyse and understand. I am not member of any organisation, but I often discuss Bible and related questions with my friends, so I (and we) may analyse everything without any pressure (as it should be). We found new level of depth in Christianity that strengthened my family, happiness and integrity. There you may read how I feel and think now:
and on Russian language (a bit more extended, not everything was translated to English):
And this is my original story written approximately in 2007:
I was born in Ukraine in Mariupol city in 1975, in the period of the Soviet Union. I had very varied interests in my childhood. For a couple of years I was interested in Biology, I even reared different animals at home. But at the age of 12 I took a great interest in Physics. I was very interested in the world's structure and its origin. I took part in different physics contests pretty successfully. I was also interested in math. In the age of 14 I wrote a small research paper about the solution of differential equations. In general I was interested in everything that was logical, everything that slightly opened a curtain of mystery over how everything was organized. I almost didn't attend school in my last years, I had an individual schedule. I entered university in the physics faculty without any exams. I have been interested in programming since my childhood.
During my last years of school I was usually sitting at my mom's work and programming. At that time the most cool processor was 8086. When I was in my first year of University I wrote a valid debugger in Assembler. That was my first really big program.
Yet I was tormented by my inner conflicts. I suffered because my inner person differed a lot compared with my outer person. Outwardly I seemed to be a good person, but inwardly I was full of corrupted images and desires. I was prevented by my shyness from giving myself a full freedom during my "students life". However my shyness didn't stop me from living a double life: decent outwardly but quite different inwardly! I bought a lot of pornographic magazines.
In my third year of University I was invited to study the Bible in one student's church. I agreed. It was a bit interesting, besides at that time I couldn't say "NO". But I attended the church only for a short time, I argued with a "shepherd" and I continued to be a convinced atheist. In the summer after my second year I went home. When I came back I refused to continue the Bible studying. I'd made up a pretty convincing theory about how everything could come from nothing. For two years after that I'd been trying to convince myself that God doesn't exist. I gave a hard "No!" to each invitation to come to the church. I wanted to live a pure righteous life filled with the truth... though without God, but reality showed me it was impossible. Corruption in my mind, pornographic magazines all those things were a secret part of my life. So one day when I was in my fifth year of University I spoke to one of my friends who had become a Christian recently. He confessed that he had the same problems. Then I decided to myself that my life was to be changed, so I went to the church, where I'd been studying the Bible earlier, and asked to study it with me again. I had decided to follow that way to the end. I saw that the Christ himself and all the things he taught was the truth.
I repented, I'd thrown away my case of porno magazines and decided to live a new life as a disciple of Jesus. My mom opposed me and cried a lot. I loved her very much and it was very hard for me to see her tears, but I'd already decided to become a Christian and follow the Christ.
After my fifth year of University I decided that I would be a programmer and not a physicist. Though I'm still interested in physics, especially I'm concerned with a question about the boundary between quantum and classical physics, because this question remains open till now.
I became a programmer. I worked in a very small company for a short period of time. That company made Russian translations of different games. I was supposed to define a data format in which games' texts and fonts were stored. In that time piracy was quite legal in Ukraine, though it was clear that my employers were engaged in it. In our times piracy and infringement of copyright is considered a serious crime, but those days no one cared about that. I felt uncomfortable on that job, so I left as soon as I could. That company folded soon afterwards.
Getting a new job was very easy and unusual. My future boss asked me if I could make a game like Warcraft II in 8 months? I said "yes" with confidence. He asked me about what salary I would like to have. I told him (that was rather large sum of money for that time). He agreed and told me to bring a game demo in a month. So in a month I brought the demo; he looked, amazed, and that is how we started to work together. At that time I wasn't an expert in C++. I had been programming on Assembler and Pascal, so I had to learn C++ at the same time. When the game was on it's closing stage I moved to the company's office for I'd been working at home.
Soon several serious questions appeared. The first was: could I be a Christian and create computer games? Sometimes it seemed to me that computer games were a great evil, because they distract people from reality and seeking the truth. On the other hand, I played games myself sometimes, but yet I wasn't dependent on it. Besides I had a responsibility to my boss who had already paid me a lot of money. Should I really quit everything and go away? If I did that it would be called "betrayal". It was also against my conscience to quit everything. I was in agony because of that dilemma. For a few days I couldn't work physically. I prayed and asked for an answer as to what I should do. It seemed there was no way out. I'd already decided to call my boss and tell him that I couldn't work with him any longer. But then I prayed together with my good friend. I decided to do anything that God wanted no matter what it would cost me. If I had to quit I would quit, if I had to stay I would stay. Those several minutes of praying I will remember for the rest of my life, because I heard a clear answer. I saw a vision. I saw a city from a bird's-eye view. There were skyscrapers shining in the rays of the sunset. I realized that God was higher and stronger than anything as He was higher than that beautiful city made by human beings. And I heard clearly a voice telling me the answer on my question: "Do whatever you want. Both of it is right before Me, because it's by faith". It was like a revelation for me. It became obvious that the choice itself was not the most important, much more important was the reason why I wanted to do this or that. My main motive in both cases was to act like a Christian and to please God, that was more important than the act itself. However it doesn't mean that every good end justifies the means. You can't blindly apply the rule: if my motives are right than my actions are right too. That's a wrong logic! In a hard situation you are just to cry out to God and He will hear. There is no universal principle or a rule out of touch with God Himself. In that minute my deep grief was replaced with great joy and relief. I cried because of joy. I decided to stay in the company. On the next day I went to work and invited my boss to study the Bible, though before that I even was ashamed to confess that I was a Christian. That day I just realized that God was absolutely real. Even though my boss refused but one of my workmates agreed to study the Bible and soon he believed in Jesus Christ. Through all those events I'd understood that the most important thing in life was to act according to faith and conscience.
Soon after that another important question appeared before me. Taxes! For people from the West that question might seem to be strange, for it is obvious that taxes are to be paid. But... then it was not a simple question. At that time there was chaos in our country. A lot of small companies were chaotically created and broken up. In most cases paying taxes considered to be something immoral because the country was ruled by criminals. Once some people with weapons broke in to the company I worked in, they put everybody on the floor and took away all money from the safe. They pretended to be from the organized crime struggle department. They asked about drugs in order to "keep the propriety", but it was obvious that all they wanted was money and maybe something else. Taxes were too high, so automatically all small companies were criminals. And the decision about whom to punish and whom not to punish was being made by the corrupted system. Such were the customs of that times. So people didn't pay taxes if they could avoid it.
At that time we began to study The Epistle to the Romans in the church. We were on the 13th chapter. It says that we must be obedient to the government and that we are to pay taxes. How could I disobey God and say "should I do that too?" That question haunted me again. In the evening I prayed and firmly decided that I would go and speak to my boss and solve that problem with taxes. But when I woke up in the morning I felt myself an idiot. How could I say SUCH a thing to my boss? Right at that moment I saw the difference between God's strength and human strength. Without grace and help from God I was just a weak person. But in prayer I received strength and resolution from God to raise the question. I came to my boss and said that as a Christian I must act according to my conscience and pay taxes. But he answered that paying taxes in our country was not only against conscience but also with a high risk of impoverishment (taxes were about 50%). It was hard to disagree. How could we satisfy both our interests at the same time? And the answer came soon. I suggested that he make my salary 250 griven (about 60-70$). He agreed to pay taxes from that sum. Please, don't think that my boss was greedy. It was just a matter of principle. He was always kind. We were friends who could totally trust each other. I lived on that salary for almost two years. That was a really happy time for me. Of course it was very small salary, but yet it was enough. In Summer I got to my work by bicycle or just walked (the distance was about 12 km). I ate at work without any payment. In fact, it looked like I was working just "for food" even though I had rather a high position in the company. But it didn't bother me. The Lord was changing my value system, that money and riches would never be something important and valuable. True happiness was not in having a lot of wealth but in living in peace with the Lord and yourself.
Once, there was an interesting occasion. In the evening when I was supposed to go home, I suddenly heard one man loudly boasting about a "good" job that was recently offered: to translate into Russian a game of immoral content. He was very happy. But I became very upset.Would my company really do such a thing? I wanted to stop it somehow. But I realized that translation into the Russian language was the only source of income for the company. At that time I was working on a game "Cossacks" but it was pretty far to making a profit. So my outright demand not to do that translation might sound like "let's not earn money". But I couldn't leave that case just like that. I prayed but I didn't know what I could change. Yet I'd decided to talk to my boss the next morning and tell him that I disagreed with making translations of games with such content. But how I was surprised when my boss told me that he spoke with the customers and he had already decided not to translate that game and not to make translations at all. He wanted to focus on the "Cossacks" development. I was shocked at such a sudden answer on my prayer. After two years my boss told me straight, "Here's a sum of money. It's yours, you can take it any time you want." At that time I'd watched a film "Schindler`s List" and it impressed me a lot. If I have money it's bad when it just lying unused. I must use it for good things, for the spreading of God's Word and for human salvation. I took the money. Part of it I used for my needs, part of it I offered to my church. At that time apartments in Kiev were rather cheap. So I bought an apartment (19,000$). I guess that was the lowest price for an apartment ever. Now apartments have risen in price by 10-15 times. By that time a lot of things had been changed in our country. Paying taxes had become much easier. A fixed tax had appeared and my dream of paying taxes honestly and having a normal standard of living had come true. Wonderfully how God gave me everything for normal life, though I didn't seek it. Jesus Christ said: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well". That word is absolutely true. It was impossible to calculate and predict everything so exactly. It was impossible not to see God's hand in all those things.
As it had turned out later, the buying of the apartment became a stepping-stone to another very important event in my life: my marriage. Please, don't think that my future wife was so materialistic that she sought only for a husband with apartments. But her mother was dead set against any non-Orthodox churches, especially against the church which I attended, because our pastor was Korean. She forbade Marina (my wife) to attend meetings even to the point of force. But Marina still attended meetings no matter the suppressions. When I saw her faith and her life I realized that I would like to have her as my wife. I also liked her appearance. But it was scary because I knew that her mother was dead set against the church I attended. To my great surprise Marina's mother didn't mind if we did get married. So my marriage was also a great miracle. A few days before I offered to marry her, Marina had a revelation in prayer that I would be her husband. We hadn't dated before so there were no signs of my intentions, so she even thought that it could be a temptation. Yet she couldn't imagine her life without me. Without having any guess in three days I asked her to marry me. In two months we got married. God's hand undoubtedly was in all that. It was like in fairy tale as if somebody gathered up the puzzle. It may be strange to read these lines " aren't two people to have dates to know each other better, to find out that they fit each other? But I simply believed that we would get along with each other anyway because we were Christians. I will write later about how it was practically. When I write these lines I think that it looks like a fairy tale. There were doubts, fallings, temptations, sufferings and worries indeed, but I can hardly remember all those bad things, because they seem so small and unimportant in comparison with all the things that God has done in my life.
So me and Marina got married! In a year our first son Peter was born. Marina's relatives (especially her mom) strongly insisted on keeping the child far from any "baby-sitters" even for short times. But we couldn't stay at home all the time because we tried to serve in the church actively. So Marina's mother became the only baby-sitter to our child. Though it was only about two or three hours a week, but it was a bit hard because all that time we were hearing her reproaches that we were worshipping Korean (of course we were not) and many other reproaches. It had become an onerous burden. We prayed and sought for a way out because it was useless to argue or to prove something. Then we decided to ask my mom and grandmom to move to Kiev. Formerly my mother was against the Bible, but till that time he had sincerely believed. Yet they agreed to move only if there was a place to live. So we decided to buy an apartment not far from us. But how? We had never had savings, 3000-4000$ maximum. Then I decided to talk to my boss, explain him everything, and ask for credit. Though the sum was pretty big he'd agreed. And on a very amazing conditions at that. He didn't take anything from my salary, only from my awards, still those awards always were to the max. So the credit was paid back very quickly. It was hard to call it a credit, because it rather seemed like a present. Isn't it a miracle? Do such things happen? Praise God! Besides we'd bought an apartment right before a new jump in prices, so in half a year it cost two or three times more. My mom and grandmom moved to us soon and helped us very well in everything. God gave us a like-mindedness in everything. Yet it doesn't mean that we didn't have conflicts at all. My mom and wife have almost opposite characters. So sometimes there were offences and misunderstandings. But when it happened I asked everyone to gather around the table. We read from Mtthew 5:23,24 "Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift", then we hug one another and asked forgiveness and after that we loved each other even more. That word's really been keeping and strengthening our family.
Several more years passed. We started to create a new fantasy-style game "Heroes of Annihilated Empires". There was a lot I did not like in that game. I had to fight against any kind of scenes close to erotic in movie clips. Once we had to change one movie clip entirely. And that was not the only thing that I didn't like. I have to hand it to my boss, he tried to follow my demands. But still it was hard. I wanted to change my job, but it was very hard because millions were invested in that game so to quit was equal to betrayal. Our relations were always established not on a contract but on a trust, so it was against my conscience just to quit. I'd finished the first part of the game. But sales were not good, so it could hardly cover the expenses of its development, though all previous games had sold pretty successfully. We began to develop the second part because we had a contract on three parts.
Right at that time my wife had an idea: to make a game based on John's Bunyan "The Pilgrim's Progress". We wanted to tell people about the Christ in an interesting way and not obsessively, especially to those who would even hold the Bible in his hands. Me and some of my friends gathered to think about the concept of the game and the script. That was rather nontrivial because in the book the way of Christian was perfectly straight, so what gameplay could we do in the game? There are a lot of dialogs in the book but it was unlikely that reading of big dialogs would be interesting for those who played. Then a lot of ideas appeared. For example, an idea of "assignment" of initial character and set of bad habits, and for a player it becomes a task to find different ways to motivate the hero and reform his character to save him from the upcoming furious historical events and eventual death.
At the same time I was deep in thought about the essence of Christianity. The key question in that search was one verse from the Bible Matthew 7:13,14 "Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it".
I knew very well that the narrow gate symbolized the Christ himself who saves everyone who believes. My understanding was very simple " a man repented, believed in Christ " received salvation and besides with guarantee of security. But once I noticed that there was a word "way" in that verse. It turned out that there was not only the narrow gate but also the narrow way that led to the eternal life. That way only took its beginning at the narrow gate. Coming to believe is only the beginning of the way. What is the way? The Bible says (Jesus' words): "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him". I'd understood that meeting the Christ on my life-way was not enough. The meeting itself is very important, but if after that my way and Jesus' way have parted it is not much benefit from that meeting. Weren't there a lot people in history who liked Christian ideas, but later they'd become the Christ's foes? So first of all, the Christ is the one who redeemed me, secondly, he is the one who leads me to the perfection, to the perfect inner law which is written not on a paper but in our heart. My favourite verse from the Bible became a Hebrews 8:10 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest". The beginning of true faith is the commandments written on the tables of stone, the end is the teaching of Jesus Christ written in the heart of any believer. That way cannot be followed without the Christ. That way cannot be followed just by being based on human traditions. As it is written "for the law made nothing perfect". But where is the Christ? What does it mean that he leads me? Isn't it a fantasy? I want to tell you what it meant for me. Till that time I'd been attending the church for 11 years, I read sermons, I was considered as a good preacher and group leader. Everybody respected me. Once I was told to read a sermon based on the third chapter of Mark's Gospel. Then I especially noticed Mark 3:14,15 "He appointed twelve--designating them apostles--that they might be with him and that he might send them out to preach and to have authority to drive out demons". I realized Jesus appointed the disciples that they might be with him first of all. Secondly, send them out to preach, and thirdly, he gave them authority to heal people and drive out demons. I thought that was what Jesus gives to those who become HIS disciple! I'd been coming to close quarters with issue â„–1 " to be with him, with issue â„–2 " to be send to preach. But what about issue â„–3 " gave them authority over diseases and evil spirits? I didn't see it in me, though I considered myself as Jesus' disciple. But suddenly I believed that Jesus really gives such authority to his disciples. Not that I love authority , but I realized that I'd missed something important in my following after Jesus. And I began to seek God with new passion and desire. I understood that if I follow Jesus I must do it properly. I prayed very early in the morning that God might show me the way how I was supposed to live and what to do.
And once my close friend showed me one forum on the web where the discussion about the problems of the church I'd been attending for 11 years were held. My friend was very amazed and shocked himself by that information so he asked what to do now? I'd read all the information attentively and I was deeply shocked myself by all those facts that were stated. I saw amazing cruelty and manipulations, the destruction of personality, and intimidation as a source of submission to leaders which had often been covered by "good intention" - to reform one's character. I trusted the lines I'd read because I'd seen more than once similar humiliations and cruelty in my own congregation. I'd thought that if even part of that was true how then could we live with that any longer? We had to fall down and repent in dust and ashes, we had to change something. I prayed and asked for the answer from God. Suddenly one verse from the Bible came to my mind "So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed". I rejoiced! Right in that time I'd realized that I was free from fear and servility before "the leaders", though before that I accepted every their word as the truth and if something was not understandable I sought for excuses for it. But that fear disappeared suddenly. I became a truly free man. I realized " the time had come and Jesus Christ had set me free from fear and from the slavery of human authority, and from the slavery of "what do they think about me". In the evening after an another meeting I came back home full of joy and strength. My mother was sick. She had an antritis. I remembered Mark 3:14,15 and decided to pray for healing. The next day she was completely healed! Glory be to Jesus Christ!!! I got it " freedom from fear was very important for me. Fear and worshipping people had always made me powerless.
But when I told everything to the main leader the reaction was very cold and cruel. I was told that criticism of the organization was from Satan. The hard times began. Everything that I was used to began to break down. From "one of the best" I became a "man through whom Satan works" or a "Judas". But that was not important for me anymore, because when I'd lost my authority in the eyes of people I found the Christ himself. That is much more important than anything else. I won't retell you all the details. It stopped when I and some other members were asked to leave the congregation and "not prevent the work of God". It lasted for 9 months because we had been trying to do our best to change something and not just to leave.
During that time many things had changed in my world outlook. Those words from the Bible that seemed to be "strange" suddenly became filled with deep meaning "But you are not to be called 'Rabbi,' for you have only one Master and you are all brothers. And do not call anyone on earth 'father,' for you have one Father, and he is in heaven. Nor are you to be called 'teacher,' for you have one Teacher, the Christ". Jesus warned against the relations among Christians being like chief and subordinate. On the contrary whoever wants to become great must be a servant and be like the smallest. There is a strict hierarchy in the world but in the spiritual world everything is quite different: there is only one Commander, the Christ, others are brothers. Those who are stronger and have more experience in faith are the elders. But they are not like bosses but like servants, like those who lead others by the example of their own righteous and holy life and faith; and they use their gifts for helping others and not for placing others under their authority.
Suddenly I realized and deeply accepted the essence of the New Testament. It is written clearly in Hebrews 8:10-12 "This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord. I will put my laws in their minds and write them on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people. No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more". The aim of the New Testament is to make righteousness not just a fear of punishment which forces people not to do evil, but the very nature of a human. Jesus said not without reason before his death (Mtt.26:28) "This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness (abandonment) of sins". That righteousness starts from repentance and forgiveness of sins and comes from the unification with the Christ. The display of that oneness is in loving Jesus' commandments more and more and full devotion to the Christ. We always have a choice: to act according to what is right according to God's or to act according to what is profitable or comfortable. The true happiness is to live and act according to God and conscience even if it costs something. And usually it does cost something. But there is no greater torments than when you act according to your own interests and will and against the Christ. There is a great God's support in failures and in forgiveness. But that support is not for "soft fallings" but for the possibility of getting up and going on to perfection. "Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
So as I told before, we began the development of the game "Pilgrim's Progress". But we had no money at the beginning except some savings (about 7000$). We spent that money in half a year and it became rather hard to go on. There were no investors, besides we didn't want to become dependent on anyone. Simultaneously I've been writing a program "3D-Brush" with a double purpose, first of all to get some finances for further development of the game and secondly to detail our game characters. We didn't like "Zbrush"; we hadn't even understood how to draw color. May be if we had examined "Zbrush" and found out how to draw color properly "3D-Brush" wouldn't have been made :) (I do know now that it is possible to draw color in Zbrush). After a while when it became clear that money was gone we decided to finish 3D-Brush quickly and to establish our own financial foundation to not be dependent on somebody else.
It was not an easy time. There was no income. Our family was living on my mom's and grandmom's pension (300$). My family consisted of myself, my wife, our two children, my mother and Granny. Was it possible to live on that money? Nevertheless we lived pretty well, we were healthy, we were well fed, no one complained. It was interesting that in that Summer in a nearby village (about 5 minutes walk away) many villagers asked my wife and my mother to take apples for free and with no limit. Who besides God turned their hearts to us? So that Summer we had a record amount of preserves. But the most amazing was that no one condemned my life choice. Can you imagine a wife with two children just calmly watching her husband who doesn't earn money, though he could earn a lot (believe me there were a lot of propositions)? At that time we could clearly experience the principle "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
At last I finished the program 3D-Brush. But at the very last moment I doubted because it could be used as you liked including for bad purposes. Then we decided to make a limitation in the license agreement and download section with reference to responsibility before God in using the program for bad purposes. It would be against our conscience to release the program without such a limitation and we would suffer from watching how our program is being used. A sense of peace with God and your own conscience is much more precious than any money. After that a storm came! A sharp dispute has begun on the NewTek (and Mudbox) forum about my supposed intrusion of my religion through my program. Furthermore, I was accused of hypocrisy, yet that was reasonable because I made games before. That was a hard two weeks of my life. I remembered a principle "do not judge, or you too will be judged". I judged others (the church I attended). I called people to be open so they could solve painful problems instead of suppressing them. Now I was judged myself. Was it good or bad? I'm sure it was good. What shall I do? Shall I say: "oh, what sinners who oppose God!" or I shall try to look into, try to understand others and try to help them understand me? I spoke with people a lot, I told them about my position about my life and so on. Eventually we've moderated our license agreement conditions in a way to keep the meaning but to make it less outspoken. After a while the storm calmed down but I've received an important lesson: you must always clarify a situation and try to deal with those who have something against you (of course I don't mean, for example, bandits who want to rob you and not to listen to your reasons). It is written in the Bible, I've already written about that.
Now we've made a meeting in our flat. Basically my old friends come. We study the Bible deeply and we try to do it objectively as long as we are not a part of any denomination; we're just Christians, those who follow the Christ. As it turned out we are not alone in that. There are a lot of such small groups as ours in Kiev and all over the world. You can see it on simplechurch.com.ua. It is very close to our world-view. We gather together occasionally but there is no dependence on each other. There is a cooperation, there are similar aims, there is a desire to serve other people and bring them a testimony about Jesus Christ. It is much better to be dependent on the Christ than on the other people.
This story is not finished yet. I'm sure there will be a lot of interesting things in the future. And I'm so thankful to God. To live with him is so much better than to hide from him. I'm also thankful to those people who have been supporting me and rebuked when I was wrong. Thanks to Marina, Stas, Volodya, my mom and Granny. Without their patience and firmness it would be hard.
Update: see what's next in www.lawinmind.org/index.php