Today, we want to tell you a story about the incredibly strong spirit and body of our sister in Christ, Vera Muratova. At the last Russian Championship through ПОДА (PODA), the Russian Federation of Sports for Persons with Physical Impairment, Vera won first place in powerlifting on the bench press, setting a new record for Russia in this sport: 143 kilograms (~315 pounds)!

Vera is a master of sports on an international level. She is a bronze medalist of the World Cup and the winner of the Biathlon World Cup. In addition, Vera is a double champion and record holder of Europe and a double champion and multiple record holder of Russia!

Recently, Vera was baptized, becoming part of the church in Vladimir, Russia. We asked her to tell us her story. Be sure to read it until the end, because there is support and personal challenge in it for everyone!

My name is Vera. I was born in 1980 in the city of Samarkand of the Uzbek SSR (Uzbekistan). Then my parents moved to Yavan, Tajikistan, not far from Dushanbe. We recruited people to work in the factories where our family eventually received a three-room apartment. Mom worked with an electric winding machine, and my father worked in the chemical department of the plant.

My father died at work when I was only a year old. I don’t remember Dad at all, but I have a picture of him from when he was still young. Mom had to start working again and leave me in childcare. Later, a new test was placed on my mother when our group in the nursery got jaundice. They put me in the hospital alone, without my mother, in one block with a child who had polio. Due to weak immunity, I picked up this disease, and up to the age of six, I could not walk. At the age of seven, I began walking, though not as a fully-fledged healthy person.

As a child, I loved to watch figure skating and always dreamed of recovery, becoming a beautiful, successful athlete, and of becoming a doctor.

From Central Asia, we moved to a village in the Altai region. It was very difficult for me to live in this village. In the ’90s, there were no educational resources provided for disabled children in small villages, so studying was difficult for me.

After 11th grade, I moved to Barnaul. Unfortunately, my mother and I fought over my decision, because she was very afraid to let me go and did not want me to leave.

I entered trade school for a year of study. At that time, my older sister was already working in Barnaul and was renting a room in a hostel. After graduating from trade school, I did not go to work in my specialty, though I was offered a job as a secretary. My sister needed a lot of help during her pregnancy. I convinced her that everything would be fine and that we could handle it if we stuck together. My niece was born, and I was a nanny for the baby. My sister worked and studied, and I sat with the child.

One evening, my sister brought me to the gym so that I could work out and strengthen my legs. There was a trainer in the gym who worked with people with disabilities. In 2000, I started to play sports and go to the Russian Championships.

In 2006, I decided to leave the sport, because I was still not chosen for the national team after winning in the Russian Championships. In 2010, through a series of events, I was persuaded to return to sports but with a different sports club and coach. Then the senior coach of our team noticed me and decided to write training plans for me.

By great luck, I was selected for the Paralympic Games in London in 2012, where I took fourth place, hitting the top five athletes! While in London, the senior coach decided to train me further, so I did not return home to Barnaul. I prepared my family and significant other in advance for this, and they supported me.

Since 2012, I have lived in the Vladimir region in the city of Lakinsk. I train, prepare for new competitions, and participate in them. Then the death of my significant other literally broke me. I wanted to quit. My coach didn’t give up on me and persuaded me to stay. My mother also did not allow me to leave the sport.

In my life, I have always felt some kind of force that, from childhood, led, supported, and raised me. I have always strived for this power, for this invisible care. I have always been attracted to this feeling that I am not alone, and all my life I had been searching. I remember that in childhood they showed the cartoon “Superbook” on TV. This cartoon about the children’s Bible so touched me much that I really wanted to get it and read it carefully, but my mother did not understand what I was telling her. Then our TV broke and for many years we lived without it, and there was no opportunity to buy one. I began to forget this episode, but I kept looking.

Mom baptized me in an Orthodox church when I was 12 years old. I did not understand anything, but I persistently attended every Sunday morning church service. Reading the prayer book, I constantly fell asleep because most of the prayers were not clear to me. I eventually left the church, continuing to search for that which I had not lost over the years: my invisible protector.

One time, I became interested in Buddhism. After practicing Buddhism for about three years, I realized that it wasn’t what I was looking for. Then a miracle happened: my wishes became reality, and it was necessary not to miss the moment, but to see. And I saw. Through our doctor, Ayshat Magomedov, I began to hear about Jesus, and I clearly remembered the episode of that cartoon about the children’s Bible. My feeling at that moment? “YES, YES, YES, THIS IS FINALLY IT! AT LAST!”

And here I am with God. After many years, Jesus opened his door for me, and I was baptized in the Vladimir Church! Jesus gave me a big family, and he continues to take care of me! I am happy that I have him, and he is in me.

I wish for everyone to find him fully and to feel his care and protection. It is an incredible feeling, and in order to understand it, you need to feel God’s protection in the way he made it clear to me as a child.

Wish you all the best. God’s blessings to all!

Shared from ICOC News – Russia