From a young age, Boris Sitnikoff was exposed to faith in a very distinct manner. As a toddler, he and his family moved to Tennessee from Indianapolis, where his first memories are filled with fear and spiritual attack.
“I had a lot of nightmares of these shadow things that were chasing me and throwing me around,” Boris said. “I was struck with fear endlessly, and I couldn’t stay in a room alone for more than 10 seconds.”
These nightmares were more than just dreams for Boris, and the “ominous, evil presence” began to haunt him even when he was awake. Feeling as though something was always lurking behind him and that terrible events were going to ensue, he finally confided in his mom, who began telling him about the gospel.
“She told me that the next time I had a nightmare to call out to Jesus and say, ‘Jesus, come!’” Boris remembered. “The next nightmare I had there was this tall, lanky shadow figure that was creeping up to my side. I shouted ‘Jesus, come!’ and the shadow immediately vanished. I felt peace for the first time in my whole life.”
This particular experience taught Boris more about who God was and allowed him to better understand the physicality of faith.
“That’s when I learned that Jesus would never let me go and that he always has my back,” Boris said.
That revelation set the foundation for the rest of his faith journey, but the peace and assurance he felt soon was matched with disappointment and heartache.
When Boris was young, his dad left his family and went to Los Angeles to find a job in the music business. At the same time, Boris began experiencing difficulties at school.
He was heavily bullied in elementary school because he “liked to think out of the box.”
Boris remembers being bullied until about fifth grade when he became extremely interested in astrology and legends.
Looking through books about these subjects, he learned a lot of different things that he began to believe and found “truths” that he harbored. This new knowledge became almost like an obsession.
“I think that reading and learning about those things muddied the water with my faith,” said Boris.
Things got better for Boris socially when he got to middle school, but he didn’t feel as though he was doing any better within himself.
“I was vain and prideful and selfish,” Boris said. “I wanted to do everything for myself and not for God.”
The “vain” philosophies clouded his world view and he felt that the “truth” was pushed to the back of his mind throughout middle school and high school.
When Boris graduated in 2013, he did not intend to go to college. He thought that he would be better off doing everything by himself and that he could easily make his own living and pave his own path. He stopped going to church and reading the Bible regularly, two factors that he believes sparked his “downward spiral.”
“I started hanging out with the wrong people, and I made stupid decisions, and I almost got myself killed,” said Boris of his life after high school.
His friend group was made up of atheists, wiccans, satanists and agnostics. Surrounded by so many different backgrounds and beliefs, he didn’t know exactly how to structure his own.
“I still believed in God and believed in Jesus, but the truth wasn’t richly in my heart,” said Boris.
Boris felt that he had to prove himself before he could prove his faith. He found himself constantly surrounded by nonbelievers, which he feels pulled him away from his faith until his breaking point, until he almost lost his life.
A friend of Boris made psychedelic drugs, and at a rave one night, he met people who were interested in throwing a “trip party.” Boris brought the drugs, a research chemical called DOC, to the rave and took some himself.
“I ended up experiencing the effects of the drugs, and at first it was euphoric,” said Boris, “but then I just kept thinking that if I were to stay in that house, I would get trapped in hell forever.” With this intimidating, incoherent thought running through his mind over and over, he left the house in the dead of night and winter and began walking alone.
While heavily experiencing the effects of the drugs, Boris found himself going in circles around the suburbs.
Seeing the city in the distance, he began making his way toward the lights where he randomly stopped by a field. Because it was extremely dark, he didn’t immediately realize that he had found himself right at the edge of a river. If he had walked a few more feet, Boris most likely would not have survived the freezing temperatures or the rushing water.
Realizing where he was, Boris took some time to gather his thoughts and recognize the reality of the experience.
“When I discovered that I could have easily died, God saved me and that’s why I didn’t, it made me realize that I am a mere human being and God is God, and I am not,” he said. “But all this time, I was trying to be God, and I was disgusted by that.”
Still experiencing the effects of the drugs, Boris began walking toward a neighborhood and found himself at a random house that he felt drawn to. When he knocked on the door, a young married couple answered and let him use their phone to call his mom.
“The entire night began with a lie. I lied to my mom about where I was going, and I just needed to tell the truth about everything that happened,” said Boris.
The man who owned the house, Dallas, offered Boris a ride home. As they talked, Dallas told him how he had gone through similar things before. This connection meant a lot to Boris, and he realized that he wasn’t alone in his regrets.
“Ever since then, I have always seen how intimately God’s hand has been in everything,” he said.
At the same time, Boris’ father was also enduring through immense struggle. It wasn’t until after his dad almost committed suicide that he reached out to the family in order to apologize for leaving and ask for forgiveness. He came back to Tennessee in a daze, joined a life recovery program at the Nashville Rescue Mission, a homeless shelter, and made a complete transformation.
Boris told his dad about his life, and his dad convinced him to join the program in Nashville. The program focused on educating others on the foundations of the Bible, and each person in the program had a personal counselor that guided them.
Not only was this year-long journey transformative in his spiritual life, but also in his physical life.
“I had extremely long hair and a huge dreadlock at the back of my head that went down to the middle of my back,” Boris said. “Symbolically, that is like the old self is dead, new life is coming.” said Boris.
The experience in the shelter showed him where he wanted to go in his walk with Christ.
Passionate about helping others find God and “keeping people aware of what the word of God says,” Boris hopes to work in an industry that encourages others to root themselves in faith. As a Christian ministries and music business major, he plans on attending seminary after AU.
“As time progresses, it is becoming more and more evident where I am supposed to be and where God wants me,” said Boris. “I should not live life for myself, but for God. It is not my will that I need to do on this earth, but God’s will.”