Ștefan Ghiță

Tremendous suffering, brought in the light of healing

For the first time in my life, I smoked heroin when I was 14 years old, specifically, I celebrated the fact that I had my own ID with a few friends from the neighbourhood. This was the ‘tradition’, when you would get your ID, that you honour your friends with drugs or alcohol. I found it funny back then, although it really isn’t, that the boy I was taking drugs with was the son of the Police Chief of the neighbourhood section. I continued to smoke weed on occasion, and at the age of 16 I started with heroin, hash and other substances.

Drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, I have started to consume it all due to peer pressure. When you refused to take part in these things, with the group, you would feel weak, more cowardly than those who would partake. I admit that I often consumed many different drugs at the same time, out of sheer curiosity, thinking that I would discover new sensations and push my body even farther, because what I was mostly aiming to do was to be so high, that I completely lose control and touch of reality.

I was working as a bartender at a restaurant owned by a very rich man. He had noticed my problem and kept repeating that life is much more beautiful than how I was experiencing it through drugs, that I am capable of doing many things, I was young and should be starting a family, rather than searching for death every day.

At some point, I was on the Mill’s Lake, it was in August, I can’t remember the year. I was so high, dirty, I smelt like a rotting corpse, I had severe wounds on my body, I had purse bags at both feet. I hadn’t slept in 5 or 6 days. I stopped on the side of the lake, took my shoes off, put my feet in the cold water and I simply went into a coma.

I woke up at the University Hospital, a few days later, and from there I was sent to St. Stelian Hospital, for the first time in the rehabilitation programme. I have repeated this cycle 3 or 4 times: I would stay in the hospital for a while, then go back to drugs and into a coma, then again, in the hospital.

The second to last time I was out of rehab, I was practically a vegetable and completely dependent on my parents. I was living in my father’s house, I was so weak, that I needed help just to be able to come down the stairs. I was on a very strong treatment, taking about 12 pills per day, a combination of antidepressants, sedatives and sleep pills. At a certain point, I couldn’t bear the ordeal. I took a 2 liter bottle of water, I took all medicine out of their blisters and placed them on the bed, in one pile, so I could swallow as many as I could. I took them all, then I lied on the bed, waiting to die.

I remember it was November. Suddenly I had very strong convulsions, I couldn’t control my body, I dragged myself to the entrance door and went into a coma. I remember waking up in the hallway, in a puddle of vomit, urine and faeces, the smell was atrocious. I didn’t know how much time had passed, all I knew was that I was still having convulsions and I tried to clean up the place, hoping that my parents wouldn’t find out, or else I feared they would kick me out. My suicide attempt had failed, and I couldn’t allow myself to get back on the streets.

The last hospitalization followed, where I spent Christmas, New Year’s Eve, my name day and my birthday. I got out in mid-January. For a short amount of time afterwards, I didn’t do drugs, but then I gradually went back to my old habits.

When I was 17, on September 10th 2001, my mother committed suicide. She had just celebrated her name day, on St. Mary’s, together with my father, and I was gone to a party and spent the night at my friend’s. This friend of mine had a very cool bike and, although we were sharing all our things, he wouldn’t lend me his bike not even for a short ride. In the morning after the party, we had our coffee, my friend finally gave me his bike, I took a ride and, when I got to the building where I lived, I found my little brother in the front, screaming, being held by a bunch of people who kept telling him he would be alright.

On the terrace of the building, there were many people reacting nervously, I walked inside the apartment where the terrace was located, and there was my mother. You could see the open bone fractures at her arms and legs, she was in a puddle of blood and had strong convulsions. She used to always tell me she would kill herself, and I would have to take care of my little brother. I had heard this line so many times, that I’ve reached the point where I didn’t care whether it would happen or not. Only then, as I saw her tortured by pain, during the two hour we waited for the ambulance to arrive, did I understand she had been serious. In a way, I also felt relief, as I knew that at least I wouldn’t have to worry about finding her dead anymore.

I started school in November, dor two months I was unable to do anything, I was in shock. Then I started to spend increasingly more time on the stadium, I was getting into fights, getting high and drinking more and more. I was living in an abandoned car, sleeping in the hallways of apartment buildings, in parks, on benches, in the public bus. I had become homeless because of the drugs and I looked for nothing else besides drugs, alcohol and pills.

One day, when I was 30 years old, a man named Soare came to me, he was my classmate in general school and in highschool. He knew my family, he knew that my parents had financial stability and he couldn’t understand why I looked like an animal and what was going on with me. He insisted to pray for me, repeatedly telling me that he had repented and that God is real. Upon his insistence, I allowed him to pray, on the condition that we went somewhere private where people wouldn’t see us, hoping that I could rob him. But he did pray for me, he put his hands over me and, for the first time in a very long period, I finally felt lucid and aware.

I wasn’t feeling sick anymore, my bones, teeth, head didn’t ache, my eyes didn’t leak, I felt no more pain. I started to shake him, yelling at him and asking what he had done to me, and he kept saying that the Lord loves me and, if I want to know more, I should go with him to a church. I finally accepted, so we went to this church, next day at 6 pm. The people at the church prayed and wept for me, and the next day I met Giani (my godfather), who took me with his car and, together with Soare’s wife, Georgiana, they brought me to the Teen Challenge centre. I entered the programme on September 27th 2014, got eliminated on April 31st 2015. The second time I reentered the programme on July 1st 2016 and graduated Teen Challenge on December 4th 2016.

My life is completely transformed because I have God every day by my side. The programme was difficult, but with God’s help I could finish it, and today I benefit from everything that I learned at the centre. In October 3rd 2015 I enrolled on the Faculty of Social Assistance — Baptist Theology and Psychopedagogy within the University of Bucharest. I am currenlty in my second year, second semester.

On December 5th 2016 I got engaged to Lavinia, on May 27th 2017 we had our civil union, and on June 3rd, our wedding ceremony. I go to churches Elim and 43.

Currently, I am the initiator of a Christian group named S.F.J. (Special Forces Jesus), a group of volunteers. Each Saturday morning, we bring sandwiches, hot tea, coffee, clothes and footwear to the homeless in the North Train Station area. We also pray with them, talk to them about God, explain how He has worked in our lives. We create a database with the people we encounter each weekend and their needs, and, depending on the resources that God gives us, we try to help them. Lately, we have started to support other social causes, on the side: we donate blood, visit hospitals, buy medicine where needed. During the week, we bring a few of the people we help to Grivița, offer them a set of clean clothes, shoes and hygiene products. We also have a Facebook group: S.F.J. OFFICIAL, where we post testimonies, encouraging thoughts and we also have a special section, “the daily verse”. Now, there are 636 members in our group.

I thank God that through Teen Challenge, from a hopeless man with no future, He had me transformed into a man who himself gives hope to others. Amin!