Gordon Skopnik


How a beaten boy grew into a broken man blessed by God

I was brought up in a small town in southern British Columbia. Both of my parents were alcoholics. My father worked in the logging industry. My mom was on her second marriage. She had eight children, most hated her and would not even talk to her. She had her own serious problems.

An atmosphere never to forget
My brother and I were the only children at home in the early years. When we would just cry my father would physically beat us until we were black-and-blue. Being brought up in this ungodly atmosphere, I started drinking hard liquor (straight from the bottle) heavily when I was 9 years old. By the time I was 14 I was an alcoholic myself.

I was in serious trouble with the law due to alcohol addiction and drug use. During this same time one of my brothers blew his head off with a high-powered rifle. Afterward, my parents gave me the rifle as a gift. I was more than a disturbed young man. By this time I began to rebel against every authority in my life.

Now doing drugs, trafficking in them, involved in auto-theft and numerous other illegal activities, I could not bear staying with my parents or in my hometown. I bought a four-wheel-drive truck and drove as far north in Canada as the truck would take me. I got to a mining site and applied for a job. They hired me.

The journey of journeys
By the time I was 19 years old, I was feeling out of control. Drugs and alcohol were taking their toll. I began to look for help, but in the wrong places. I started looking into the cults, but by the grace of God working in my life even at that time, I was not disillusioned with all the false promises I read about in their material. I threw the material away shortly after receiving it.

A short walk
One night I was walking behind a bar and I saw a little black book lying on the ground. Thinking it to be an address book or something like that with phone numbers of prominent ladies, I picked it up. It was a New Testament. I was going to throw it away but kept it and started reading it in the evenings after work. (Though I had a job, it was 12-hour shifts and much of the time my colleagues and I would find hiding places to do drugs and drink, thereby continuing my lifestyle.)

The stories in the New Testament were unreal to me and seemed somewhat ridiculous. Jesus, a teacher healing, raising people from the dead? How dumb!

New beginnings
Then I came to the passage in 2 Corinthians 5:17: If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. For one of the first times that I can remember, I prayed, God, if you are God and these words are true, then if you can make me new, make me new. The next day I awoke feeling free with a new sense of peace. I was so excited that I was called a Bible thumper by my friends within a week. Some of them gave their lives to Christ as well.

Looking for a new family
I looked for a body of people who also studied this book. I found a little church in town and asked the elders to teach me, ideally four or five times a week. They thought that was a bit much so they gave me some catalogues of Bible institutions. I thought I had finally chosen one, that is, making up my own mind and choosing, so I applied, was accepted, and went.

God was the one who was actually in control because when I arrived, members of the third year class of that institution greeted me and said: We have been praying for you, that you would come to know Jesus and that you would come to this school.  I was overwhelmed with God's grace and gave my life to Him for His service, His will, whatever that would be. This class of students had heard my name given as a prayer request at one of their conferences and prayed for me.

God answered their prayers
God has not stopped answering prayers. God has also not stopped doing miracles as I have had the privilege of leading hundreds of people from many different countries to Christ!

Vocation, call, destiny
I can hardly fathom that 17 years ago, in 1986, we were getting our first taste of life in Europe, the surge of adrenaline and faith as we crossed communist borders, doing evangelism in these countries, and the open hearts of Eastern European refugees, each with a heart-rending story of life behind the Iron Curtain. Then, through the years, meeting refugees from so many parts of the world, sharing Christ with them and seeing lives transformed by the power of God.

I have continued my journey only to see more touched by Christ, not only through God's touch in my life, but also in the hand of God through every refugee I disciple, train and mentor. Praise God for the journey of this refugee!

Broken man
This is not the end of the story. In 1998 I blew out. That is to say, I severely burned out, with physical symptoms I could neither fathom nor understand. I would lay in my hospital bed wondering if I would ever be able to function normally again.

When I was home I was emotionally disabled; I could not care for my wife, or my children. I would lay on the floor in my home and cry. The children would ask me what was wrong and I would answer, not knowing really what to tell them, I have pain inside that I cannot get rid of. And they would lie on the floor and cry with me. I had nowhere to turn but to God.

It has been a five-year journey; two of those years I lived in pain everyday, hour by hour, not knowing if I would ever be free. After suffering much as a child and a youth I have now much to be thankful for. I now live free from my own pain.

Also from 9 years old until 19, I bled internally. After the Lord re-created me I never bled again. I have many questions myself, but for the sake of those who suffer or have suffered, the following words from the Bible have encouraged me, may they encourage the reader: This I call to mind, therefore I have hope; the steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning (Jeremiah) from one broken person to another.

Blessed man
After suffering those hard years as a mature adult, I can now say I have been restored in a huge way, experiencing great healing by the grace of God. I now live in freedom with my wonderful family serving the Lord by helping refugees in need.


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