Thank you, Oksana, for sharing your story with us!
(Oksana shared her beautiful story in a phone interview, and we didn’t want to leave anything out. We’ve broken this interview into three parts so you can be encouraged by ALL of Oksana’s story without being overwhelmed by long blog posts.)
Tell us about yourself!
My name is Oksana. I grew up and lived 36 years of my life in Ukraine. Then God called me to be a missionary wife in America. I’m married to an American missionary and moved to America at the age of 36.
My husband is in Bible translation, and I’m able to help him and his ministry by doing interpreting for him in one project that requires Russian interpretation. Since I speak both Russian and Ukrainian, I can do that, and it brings me lots of joy. It’s a wonderful work that we’re doing together.
We have two kids. I used to have lots of things that I was interested in. I do love language. I like to read. Now all my time is consumed by two wonderful boys who are very strong-willed and require a lot of Mama’s attention.
I was born with a skin issue that grew to be in time like a chronic disease. Maybe if it had been treated well in my young age, it would have gone away, maybe not. My mom told me I was literally all covered with a rash when I was born. She took me to the doctor, asked what to do, and then whatever was prescribed, she did it and tried to help me.
But then one time—she doesn’t know if it was a vision or a dream, she wasn’t a believer at that time—she was praying and rubbing my skin with something, and she suddenly felt that someone touched her shoulder. She turned back, and she saw this older man, with longer gray hair, and he told her, “Don’t do that, it will not help her.” She took it as something that was true for her and she stopped trying to do anything about my health condition. I was very little at that time, I can’t say how little.
Well, this problem, I remember it all my life. It showed in spots, like in the inside part of the elbow, and even when I was a child, people sometimes would joke and ask was I a drug addict? It was on my skin, on my face, cheeks, everywhere. I felt like the ugly duckling because these spots were red and itching. They were very noticeable–you didn’t need to look carefully to see them. I didn’t feel normal. That was through all my life until approximately age 32 or 33.
When I was an unbeliever, I just lived with it. I tried to do my best to do something. Someone recommended for me to use steroid cream. I tried, and I discovered that it was a wonderful thing that helped me tremendously. So I used it for two years non-stop, because I didn’t know anything about steroid creams or products. And then someone said I had to stop, she had already discovered some sickness in my body. I had to stop, because that addiction causes more severe problems.
At that time I was already a believer. I got saved at the age of 18. This happened just about that time. When I stopped using the steroid cream, all the problem that was inside all this time, for the most part, came outside. It was horrible.
I tried to once again help with whatever I knew, and it made it even worse. I had a high fever and I was hospitalized. I don’t remember how much time I spent in the hospital. The IVs and everything cleansed my body from it and helped, but the problem is that it was only very temporary. I came back soon after.
I was praying of course, I was fasting, I was asking God, please help me, guide me. I tried multiple things–wellness products, different companies that I tried that were expensive and I had to spend a lot of money on that. But I was desperate and I needed to try something. It was one thing after another.
And I discovered that if I get IVs, they help in the beginning, then they make me feel worse. It’s medication–it doesn’t go away with no side effects. And I got to the point that all my inner organs were aching from all the medication that I had to take. In those first years I was hospitalized three or four times a year, at least for a couple of weeks.
It also looked ugly. When it all started, it was mainly on my face, eyes, all my upper body. All the parts that were covered with clothes were pretty much okay. Everything I couldn’t possibly cover, it was all in rash. That looked very bad. It caused people to constantly ask, What is that? I felt they looked at me as if I was a monkey in the zoo and they were like, What is that? I felt horrible.
It also drove me crazy because it was itching terribly, all the time. I couldn’t make it stop. Those steroid creams helped a tiny bit. Then it would just drive me crazy again. I tried not to scratch myself, but I would scratch anyway because it was so bad. And then I would start bleeding, and it would turn from itching to aching. That was my life for a long while.
Because it was itching all the time, and I looked so bad, at the age when you want to look nice and attractive for guys–I was in my 20s–I felt very much inadequate, ugly, no one will ever love me, no one will ever want me. Plus my dad drank all his life. I thought, No one will want anything to do with a lady from a family like that. It was a real struggle for me.
In God’s goodness He had me experience some sorts of relief after every type of product that I used. It was not for a long time, but it was a break that God gave me. Of course every time it required a lot of effort–diet, taking certain pills on time, taking baths with sea salt and putting mud on my face and skin and all of that. A lot of time really was consumed by that.
Like I said, I was in need, I was desperate, and by God’s grace He gave me these things to try, and He provided enough money with my parents’ help to try those things. In all of these things God showed His grace, He led me to these things, because it did help me just to experience some sort of relief. I usually went back to what it was before, but every time it was a little bit better.
The very last thing that I tried to do, someone in church recommended to me a starvation program that was developed by a medical professor in the capital of Ukraine. I didn’t go to the clinic, she just gave me the syllabus of a person who went there. So I assumed I can try.
I did everything they said, and the first time I felt so much more itching. It was driving me crazy. I thought, No, it doesn’t work for me. But at that time I was driven by a desire to lose weight a little bit, and I thought maybe I can try one more time and then I’ll decide.
But when I did it the second time, I noticed the itching was not as bad. It was still there, but nothing in comparison to the first time. And so I decided to go on. I was only doing it once every six months, not very often. But still it was hard for me because you need to prepare your body for that, and then whatever you do during and after that.
After the third time, I noticed that my problem was not getting back to what it used to be. I also noticed that I would not get sick so easily. My immune system had been so bad that I would get sick from someone sneezing a couple kilometers from me. Now in my family, everyone got sick except me. And I thought, Wow, apparently it strengthens my immune system. That encouraged me to keep doing it, once every six months. I did it for a total of three years.
It helped to strengthen my immune system, I really stopped getting sick in general. Probably in a year and a half or two years, it pretty much went away, and I had almost nothing on my skin. About ten years ago I stopped having problems. I think I might still have it, but it doesn’t bother me anymore. I can have a quality life, and I experience a little bit of something when I get pregnant, a little itching in certain spots, but it doesn’t bother me anymore.
Can you relate to Oksana’s story? Have you been able to see God’s goodness in your own valley? Even if you haven’t experienced healing yet, don’t give up hope!
We’ll share the next part of Oksana’s story next week!