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Christian Leadership to Change the World

A Unique Spiritual Journey Marina Kuzmina has personally experienced some incredible events, all coherently linked, yet inexplicable, without their backstory. As a child growing up in the vastness and severe cold of Siberia, Russia, Kuzmina never would have imagined America would play a part in her life. “God ordained all the circumstances, and I simply made the step of faith to follow,” she states. Now as a Regent University graduate, Kuzmina muses at the unique ways “the impossible” was made possible.

Young Kuzmina did not learn about Christianity at home. After the fall of communism, a breeze of freedom blew through Russia, making way for a pastor to speak at her school. As a fifth grader, Kuzmina then made a choice that changed her destiny. At age 14, she prayed for God to reveal His purposes in her life. She wondered what she could do. “God spoke to my heart about the outcasts, the lost of society,” she recalls.

A few years later, Regent’s mission, Christian Leadership to Change the World, first intersected with the life of 18-year-old Kuzmina. Emory DeBusk Jr., a Regent graduate, had taken his ministry to those who struggle with addictions 12 time zones away from the campus where he had trained. Kuzmina met DeBusk at her church and felt certain that his plan to establish a recovery program in Novokuznetsk, Russia, was her plan too. She quickly became an integral part of Debusk’s start-up ministry, training others, including the board, staff and student residents.

In 2006, after a trip to the United States to raise support, Kuzmina’s mentor and friend tragically died of a pulmonary embolism. “Emory was like family to my family,” Kuzmina reflects. “I trained and translated for him for nearly five years.” Kuzmina flew to America to deliver DeBusk’s ashes. Upon hearing of her reason for the trip, a customs agent surprisingly stamped her visa for a six-month stay instead of three, believing that she would probably need more time.

Always having admired DeBusk’s education, Kuzmina had often teased how she wished she had his brain. DeBusk’s sister encouraged Kuzmina to attend Regent University to acquire the same degree in psychology and counseling her mentor had. Kuzmina replied, “That’s impossible. You’re not Russian; you don’t understand.”

Doubting, but daring the possibility, Kuzmina met with Regent’s admissions director in December 2006. She discovered that international student processing usually takes 18 months. However, because the customs agent gave her a six-month visa, Kuzmina completed all the required paperwork and testing within that window. Ultimately, a full scholarship was granted; even the final obstacle was removed when a supporter offered to provide her airfare back.

Because one Regent graduate had gone to the other side of the world to share a life-giving ministry, another life was inspired to walk in his footsteps. In August 2007, Kuzmina began a three-year program at Regent. She sat under the tutelage of Dr. George Jefferson who, years before, had taught counseling skills and techniques to DeBusk “It was amazing ... to dive in and learn from the source where Emory received his knowledge,” Kuzmina says.

“During my internship with Dr. Lanier Fly in Newport News, I saw so many lives change. God put it on our hearts to open a practice in Hampton Roads,” she reports. Now an entrepreneur with two other Regent graduates, Kuzmina has opened a private neurotherapy and counseling practice in Virginia Beach called Renewal, under Fly’s supervision. Realizing how rare Russian counselors are, Kuzmina believes that she is uniquely equipped to work with international adoptions within her practice. “Children who come over here have many difficulties adjusting to the new culture, lifestyle, language barriers, etc. I can speak their language, help them relate and open up more,” she states.

As for the next step, Kuzmina says with confidence: “I just need to wait and see what the Lord will do. I know it will be great. He has opened door after door, and I just walked through them.”

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