Addiction to stimulants, alcohol, disorderly sexual relations, or gambling is a serious problem for both individuals and society. People living under the control of their addiction often sink to the lowest depths of society and see no way out of their situation. NEW LIFE USA offers a recovery program for the desperate. We learned from founder of this nonprofit corporation, Sergey Matevosyan, what assistance they provide and what prompted the creation of rehabilitation centers for people with addictions.

No one is beyond hope: opportunities must be sought

NEW LIFE USA is a nonprofit corporation that provides a free rehabilitation program for drug addiction. The service is international and non-denominational. The mission of “New Life” is to fight against drug addiction, serve those in need, and expand the service to give more people the opportunity to start a new life through free rehabilitation centers in Missouri and Nevada.

Beginning: living and dead faith

“New Life” was founded in 1994. And it all began when Sergey Matevosyan’s life changed radically when, at the age of 26, he truly believed in God and repented in a Baptist church. His mentor and godfather was an Armenian who miraculously survived the massacre of 1990 in Baku. He managed to escape to St. Petersburg (formerly Leningrad until 1991), where Sergey had also moved from Moscow at that time.

It was providence that brought these people together because within a year of their acquaintance, the young man, who had recently wanted to “take everything from life,” felt compelled to start prison ministry. “We Armenians are all Christians by nature (laughing), so I didn’t need fake religiosity. But my friend convinced me that there is living faith and dead faith, and we prayed for God to reveal Himself to me. And then, a month later, I had such a powerful experience with the church that I believed,” Sergey recalls (more details about this situation can be found in the program “Corner” by Alexander Shevchenko).

And God is present in prisons too

After that, our hero’s life changed dramatically. He realized that the Lord calls to serve those at the bottom, and there was a revelation to go to prisons. There were five penitentiary institutions in St. Petersburg. A total of 16 people participated in the ministry, spending their days voluntarily in prisons from 9 in the morning until 7 in the evening.

“I absolutely didn’t want to go there. I knew they were tough, cynical people, but then I just said, ‘Lord, I will go wherever you want me to go.’ And then it was such a powerful awakening from the very first day, there was such a strong presence of God there, that all these murderers cried like children, repented,” Sergey recalls.

According to Matevosyan, there was a fierce spiritual and verbal battle with criminal authorities before this. But those who took part in the ministry soon saw victory, and after that, for almost five years in a row, spirituality and God became a support for many in the criminal world with their authorities, philosophy, witchcraft, occultism, gangs, and leaders of these gangs. “We met all kinds of people, including criminal authorities known from ‘Bandit Petersburg,’ such as Antibiotic, a thief in law,” says the hero of our article. “All these people we met with, who repented, experienced a powerful awakening in prison.”

Dangerous Depths

Four years after there were already hundreds of repentant people in prisons thanks to volunteers, it was decided to start helping drug addicts in St. Petersburg. “I had a revelation from above that there are satanic depths where the devil binds people, and everyone walks on the surface and never looks into these depths,” says Matevosyan. “The Lord spoke to my heart that I am looking for people who will agree to descend into these depths, and I will give them the power of Christ’s resurrection to break these devilish chains and lead these people to Him.”

According to Sergey, when they started working with drug addicts, prison ministry seemed like “kindergarten” in comparison. “There was a warning that it would be difficult, sometimes even scary, but God would be with us,” recalls the founder of the Center. “And after three months, it felt like we had plunged to the bottom of the very bottom of St. Petersburg drug addiction.”

They rented famous basements on Debenko Street in St. Petersburg (1995-97). This was the first candid video recording of what was happening in this narcotic hell. She instantly flew around half the world. That’s when the rehabilitation center was born, and it has been in existence for almost thirty years.

Rehabilitation on Another Continent

After the success in St. Petersburg, at the invitation of American churches, the ministers of the rehabilitation center began to travel to different states. They saw that here, especially in the immigrant community, many children of believers were using drugs, while the older generation had no idea about it. Then things got much worse when parents started to see, agonize over, and hide their children’s addiction because they were ashamed to admit it in church. When children started dying from overdoses, it became impossible to conceal.

In 2006, the decision was made to open a similar rehabilitation center in America as in St. Petersburg. “In 2007, this also seemed impossible, but we founded the Center in the state of Missouri. It still effectively operates there,” Sergey explains. “Then we started moving westward and then, let’s say, signs led us to Nevada, and here we currently have a Center, somewhere around fifteen hundred acres of land, and, in general, we are developing this program. We built this house according to all the strict Nevada requirements, got all these permits that were not needed in Missouri at all. And thus, we are advancing this program here. The next step will be somewhere else.”

As of today, the New Life USA recovery program in America operates in two locations: Kabul, Missouri, and Lovelock, Nevada. Besides the USA, it has also expanded to countries such as Ukraine, Russia, Germany, Estonia, Finland, and Israel. The “New Life” team firmly believes that no one is beyond hope, and the impossible is possible.

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