Testimonial – Oksana Ososkalo

 
 

My Eyes Were Opened to the Truth

“This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:2-4)

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My name is Oksana Ososkalo and I currently serve as a campus intern for the Syracuse International Christian Church. I was baptized as a disciple two years ago on May 6, 2012. My life changed dramatically and I would love to share my story with you.

I grew up following the rules. At school, I was quiet and shy and would do my best to be a good student and not get into trouble. At home, I had an incredibly guilty conscience so listening to my parents was not an issue. I rarely “stepped out of bounds.” I would help with the housework as much as I could. Being the oldest of seven kids, I learned responsibility and hard work from a young age. I began working at a mature 14 years old to provide things for myself and help take care of my family. I am grateful that my father brought us up to value the Bible. While he was at work, he would have us stay home and read the Bible in order to recite verses to him from memory when he came back.

My parents didn’t grow up in America. Their stories about life in Ukraine didn’t relate to me. It was always clear that they cared and wanted what was best for me. In the rebellion of my heart, I felt that they were always being “over protective.” I would come home late and hangout with friends behind their backs. Then, foolishly, would yell at my mom.

At a young age, my family was very committed to a Russian-Pentecostal denominational church. Though for years I only enjoyed going to “Sunday School” to hang out with my friends, my heart would eventually soften. In time I respected God and going to church. Incredibly, my attitude changed. In our youth group, I even sang in the choir! I served as a waitress for weddings, participated in bake sales, went to Saturday night Bible studies, and started teaching the youth Sunday mornings! In many ways, the church became a part of me. As I formed my “bubble” of deep friendships, work, school, and church I was living a relatively “holy life.” This “bubble” protected me from worries of the world. I consistently turned to God for comfort and loved him the ways I knew how. However, I was not a true disciple of Jesus Christ.

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My walk with God was not a true relationship. It didn’t go both ways. I didn’t understand what it meant to be a disciple or have the Word of God be the “standard of my life.” At that time, I still didn’t understand the bible and did not read it that much in my free time. I had a false notion of what it meant to love God, thinking it was a feeling and that because I went to church on Fridays, Saturdays, and twice on Sunday that I was okay. Like the arrogant Pharisee in Luke 18:11 I would look at those who were partying or living in obvious sin and gain confidence that “I am not like [the] other people–robbers, evildoers, adulterers–or even like [a] tax collector.” The truth was, I was just as bad them and just as blinded to the truth as a Pharisee.

In 2011, I began my college career at Syracuse University as a freshman. I was completely unsure of what I wanted to do in my future. I had no clue about a career and figured I would just do well in my classes. I needed direction and a purpose. That came to me during a psychology group project when – my present roommate and dear friend – my classmate Darlene Clarke invited me to her church. I started studying the bible under the impression that I was just studying for more knowledge, yet it would change my life forever! As I started going to church and seeing the lives of the different disciples, I was amazed that people made every effort to live righteously and hold each other accountable all the time and not just on Sundays!

For awhile I fought against the truth, knowing that if I were to commit to living my life by the Word of God it would cause some trouble among my family and the Russian church. A part of me was fearful to live such a radical life. Women like Kithy Ranga, Yinet Montesino and Hope Gbarayor helped me understand God’s Word and that the life I was living wasn’t lining up with the Holy Scriptures. I remember Steve Ranga preaching a sermon about true love for God being obedience! I realized I was living my life by traditions taught by men and false doctrine. It was a hard pill to swallow but I couldn’t go back to my old church once I saw that my life did not match the life of a disciple. My convictions grew with each bible study and despite persecution from family and friends from my old church, I decided to be baptized and start truly living for God!

As a disciple, I am grateful that God gave me a true purpose on Earth! God really opened my eyes to the truth and I am so grateful for the Kingdom today! It is truly a fine pearl of great value! A place where the truth is not watered down, where I am helped in my walk with God and where I have a family of all nations! I love helping others come to a “knowledge of the truth” and making them disciples! I dream of using my Russian and French someday to go on a mission team and help spread the gospel around the world! For now, I look forward to seeing the Syracuse Church grow and see many more disciples made. As John 8:36 says – “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed!” To God be all the glory!

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