May God bless you all! I am glad you take time to read what I write. As you well know from my messages posted so far, I am in Botosani penitentiary. Not very many things happen here, but when something happens and I’m convinced that God did that something, I do everything possible to let you know about it, for the praise and glory of God.
Vladimir Nedelea at „Betleem” Dorohoi Church, 18.XII.2016
This is what I did this time. I talked to Vladimir, my inmate colleague and brother in Christ, for a few hours every day (actually, during the 3 Christmas days). I wrote down what Vladimir told me about his life. And I put this extraordinary testimony in the form of an interview. I hope the following will benefit the readers.
George: Tell me please, for the readers of this letter, a few things about you. Your name, where are you from, how old are you?
Vladimir: My name is NEDELEA VLADIMIR, I am from Dorna Candrenilor, Suceava district and I am almost 40.
George: Tell me, please, what were you arrested for and what sentence you serve?
Vladimir: On Sept. 29, 2009 I committed the deed I was arrested for the next day, and 9 months later I was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
George: I asked you these things so that the readers get to know a few things about you. Now, I would like to find out a few things from your childhood and and youth years, spent in your hometown. Of course, if you agree with it and want me to write about those things.
Vladimir: Of course, it brings me pleasure to remember those times, nice times but also with a lot of work, especially during the summer. At 11 years old I went in the mountains with my father, who owned a sheepfold with a few hundred sheep. Since that summer until I was arrested, for 20 years I spent every summer on the mountain watching the sheep.
George: What memories do you have about those years you described as “nice”, but with lots of hard work?
Vladimir: All my childhood and youth I wandered through Dornelor Mountains, from Tatarca- Poieni Until Suhardului Mountains, from Ousoru until the border of Transylvania, to the Lake Icoana. Also, part of those years I spent on Ascutita Mountain; during the summer watching sheep, during the winter working in the woods, cutting wood.
George: A lot of work, but also a lot of satisfaction.
Vladimir: I liked what I was doing, so I worked with pleasure. After Revolution, many young people from our area left for Western Europe. I had the chance to go and work abroad, but I loved too much my birthplace, and didn’t want to leave. Besides, I made enough for my needs.
George: Describe to me you daily life before you got arrested.
Vladimir: A normal life, as I already said. The summer spent at sheepfold, the winter working in the woods.
George: Tell me, please, a few things about your entourage…the friends you spent your free time with.
Vladimir: There wasn’t much free time in my work. I used to take a break during religious holidays, when I drank a lot.
George: Have you been a heavy drinker of alcohol? (Vladimir smiles and looks ashamed.)
Vladimir: I was a well-known alcohol consumer, but it wasn’t always like that. In the beginning, I drank occasionally, then it became a habit. But this habit transformed me little by little, into a person I could not recognize anymore.
George: What do you mean by “a known alcohol consumer” and that it transformed you?
Vladimir: Normally, I was a calm, peaceful, friendly person. After consuming alcohol, I was transformed into an aggressive, fighting man. Many times, after such a time, when sober I could not remember too much of what happened during my drunkenness.
George: So, drinking has caused you a lot of trouble?
Vladimir: When I got under the satanic influence of alcohol I remembered all of those who troubled me. So, with my mind filled with alcohol, I created many incidents, fights, and troubles. Of course, all of them started by myself. Lots of money I worked hard for were paid on fines, or as a payment in order to get all right with the victims, or pay their hospital bill.
George: Should I understand you had double personality?
Vladimir: When I was sober, I was a hard working guy who kept his word. Everyone loved me. But after I consumed alcohol, I became that mad guy that everyone in the village feared.
George: I’m glad I know the good Vladimir, the one you are now (we both smiled). Praise the Lord! Amen!
George:Please tell me now about the circumstances of your arrest, what you did. I know these moments are tightly linked to the alcohol addiction you had for the last few years.
Vladimir: Everything started from an older conflict with a man from my village, which was actually started a generation ago, by our parents. It was about a piece of a road that came down the Ascutita Mountain, and was passing on the property of this man, who later became my victim.
George:So, it was an open conflict between you and another man from Dorna Candrenilor?
Vladimir: Yes, you colud say so. But it was really becoming a conflict only when one of us was drunk. It became routine for years, when I entered a bar and he was drunk and I wasn’t, I would live the place, and he was also avoiding me when I was drunk and he was sober.
George: But you never asked yourselves what could happen if you met when both drunk? (The look in Vladimir’s eyes became serious and sad)
Vladimir: This exact thing happened in the evening of 29.09.2009. Returning from the woods, where I worked, I stopped at a bar in my village. Though I had quite a lot to drink that day, I stopped at that bar, close to my house, to drink some more before going to sleep.
George: What happened next?
Vladimir: I vaguely remember being in that bar at a table, by myself. The man I was having that old conflict with entered the room, and when he noticed me, he started coming my way threatening me. The moment none of us was waiting for has arrived. The devil created the perfect situation when two enemies face each other, with their minds filled with alcohol and their hearts filled with hate. In a matter of a few seconds, blinded by a huge hatred, I pulled my pocket knife and hit him once, in the chest.
George: Then what?
Vladimir: Then, to my surprise, he turned around towards the door and left without saying a word, and no one in the bar noticed what happened. We were in a space for smokers and no one else was there.
George: What did you do after that?
Vladimir: I went on drinking, and after that I went to the house of someone I knew and slept there overnight. I was exhausted after a day of consuming quite a lot of alcohol.
George: How did you find out about what happened the previous night?
Vladimir: After I woke up from drunkenness, around noon, I found out police was looking for me. I didn’t know what for, but I found out when two homicide officers took me in for a declaration. When we got at the police station, I was asked if I had a conflict with the man I stabbed the previous night. I said yes, and they asked me if I stabbed him. My answer was affirmative. Then one of the officers asked me “did you know that person died? At first I couldn’t believe it, I thought they said it only to scare me, but a few moments later ~I realized it was true.
George: How did you react when you got that news? What thoughts crossed your mind?
Vladimir: Right there I realized that, this time, there was no escape for me and I will spend many years behind bars. All the words of my parents came to my mind, when they were telling me to stop drinking, otherwise I will end up badly. The situation was extremely bad. I took the life of a man, and in that moment, nothing could be changed anymore. Alcohol has taken another life, but this time with my own hand.
George: It’s been 8 years since that moment, you surely cannot do anything now to bring back that man. But, if we could replay the time back, what decisions could you take to make your life different today?
Vladimir: The way I see things now, after so many years, I believe my life could have been different, if I took the decision to follow the Lord, when I had the chance to do that, when a friend took me to an evangelistic evening at the evangelical church in out village.
George:Should I understand that God called you to repentance before the accident happened?
Vladimir: Yes, God in His goodness has sent people in different situations to talk to me about His plan and about salvation that comes through faith in His only Son, Jesus Christ.
George: What was the reason you refused to receive Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior in your life? What kept you away from this decision?
Vladimir: There were several motives, I believe the entourage and advice of so-called friends, who said the “repenters” are lost, that it is a sin to change your religion, and you should die keeping the forefathers faith. And, ever since I was a child, I remembered the priest in the village saying that it is a sin even to shake hands with a repentant, or to receive books from them. Words like that, combined with alcohol, kept me away from the truth.
George: Personally, I understand you perfectly. Even today such words are being spoken about people who want nothing else but be obedient to God and share with others the truth of the Scriptures. Arrest followed, trial and 8 years of prison until today. How did you live through these times and what happened during the years spent here?
Vladimir: The guilt of a murder pushes hard, as a large stone, on the soul of the guilty one. However tough the murderers try to look, I tell you from my own experience they don’t sleep well at night and that how it should be. I was imprisoned in Botosani for 15 years to serve. Then I was transferred to Bucharest, at Rahova penitentiary. I was there for 5 years, and I worked as a carpenter. The time was passing slow, guilt was heavy. I was like a man who, though didn’t have too much, has lost everything in life.
George: And yet, how or rather where did you find the strength to go on?
Vladimir: I remembered the prompting received that night at the church. I remembered the advice of those repentant people and the fact that there is a God who forgives and lifts the guilt of sin of every man, no matter how much he sinned.
George: Those things gave you strength?
Vladimir: Yes, and more than that, I had with me a Bible I received that night at the church from a Christian friend. I started reading it, though I didn’t know too much. Following the advice of another inmate from Rahova penitentiary who was reading the Bible himself, I did a correspondence bible course, with a Christian association. Slowly, my eyes started opening more and more. The more I read, the more I realized my urgent need of God. I only knew a god painted on an icon. I didn’t know He is alive, that He speaks to people, and answers their prayers. I had no idea why Jesus Christ was born. I have lived all my life in darkness, though I considered myself a Christian continuing the faith of my father. I had no clue of the elementary things of Christianity.
George: From what you tell me it’s clear that God, in His love, spoke to your heart. What decisions did you take after that?
Vladimir: A year and a half ago I was transferred again to Botosani Penitentiary. Here I found some things that pleasantly surprised me. The fact that you guys were meeting daily for prayer and bible study and that there are Christians from the outside that come weekly to minister inside the penitentiary were for me reasons for joy. I could clearly see that God allowed me to return to this prison so that I could get more of His Word. As you well know, I started attending your daily prayer and bible study meetings. Here I got the conviction that I need a personal relationship with god, which could be obtained only through faith in His only Son, Jesus Christ.
George: I perfectly remember those moments; it was like yesterday, even though more than a year and a half has passed by. I can only give praise to God for all that wonderful time. What prompted you to make a covenant with God, to surrender your heart and life to the Lord Jesus Christ?
Vladimir: The first and most important reason was the fact that I understood that Jesus Christ will forgive all the sins of my past. But, more important than anything else is that He will offer forgiveness for the murder I committed. Nobody ever talked to me about forgiveness. I believed that I will always have to carry with me what I’ve done in the past. That until I met the Lord Jesus Christ. Another reason is the fact that I realized that He is alive and answers prayers. Exactly a year ago, around holidays, I was in a delicate situation. I was lacking everything; nobody visited me for a few months. Nobody knew my situation, but God and me. I was very sad and heavy hearted due to that situation. But the God to whom I started praying, the True and Holy One, looked toward me, an inmate and a hopeless man, and from heaven He answered my prayers. A Christian neighbor, whom I haven’t seen for 7 years, and never talked to him all this time, came and visited me unexpectedly. I could expect anyone to come and see me, but him. Then I saw with my eyes how greatly the Lord, in whom I trust, works. God sent him to bring me food for the body, but more important food for soul. He spoke to me from God’s Word; he strengthened my faith, telling me to read Psalm 32 and Acts 10.
George: I perfectly remember how happy you were after that visit. Shortly after that, you decided to get water baptized. How was it?
Vladimir: One evening at the prayer time I heard there will be baptisms and that a number of inmates will be baptized. That night, I knelt down before the Lord and asked Him to speak to me, to tell me if it is good for me to make this New Testament covenant with Him, in the water of baptism. Well, I want to tell you that God spoke to me that night, through a very clear dream, that I have to repent and get baptized. The next day, I met you and told you my dream and the desire to be put on the list of those who will be baptized. On March 25, 2016, full of joy I entered the water of baptism. There, I confessed the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and personal Savior. This is my personal testimony and I share it for the praise and glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.
George: I am glad for the sincerity in the things you shared with us. In closing, do you have any message for those who will read your testimony?
Vladimir: I have a message for my brothers in faith: tell everyone, unceasingly, about the Lord Jesus Christ. Don’t forget that most of the people don’t know Him and humanity needs Christ. For those who don’t know God, and here many of my friends and acquaintances at home are included. At least out of curiosity search and see what the Holy Scripture says. To see for yourselves why Christ was born, why He came into the world and why He was crucified. For me the answer the Bible offered to these questions changed my life and now I serve God with all my heart and soul.
Good health and blessings from our Lord Jesus Christ!
Botoșani / 27.12.2016