TJ’s story is full of drug deals, addiction, and theft – a life on the path to destruction. He didn’t want anything to do with his ‘parent’s religion’ until he fell on his knees in need of healing. From that moment his life was never the same.
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TJ Malievsky: I’m an example of the redemptive power of God, where you can actually be the worst of sinners and you can come to the Lord, and he can renew you and use you and make you fruitful. The scripture says that he’s faithful to a thousand generations for those who do his will.
Narrator: We’ve all experienced it. You run into a friend from the past, but there’s something different. They are changed. Maybe there is a calm where there once was a storm. Maybe there is gentleness instead of harshness. There’s a new passion, a new life. What changed? Welcome to Brought Back To Life, a podcast where we explore stories of ordinary transformation.
TJ Malievsky: My name is TJ Malievsky. I’m the Vice President for CRISTA media here in Seattle, Washington. My story is a Damascus road story of a radical salvation from a life of destruction and sin to a life of tremendous calling and fruitfulness serving the Lord. I’ll start by talking about my parents because it’s, it’s influenced what happened, especially in the first half of my life, and certainly in the second. My parents were taken at the start of world war II. They both lived in the Ukraine in different cities, in the Ukraine. Villages really the Nazis came in and lined up people in the villages and said, give us your strongest child. We’re gonna take them for six months back to Germany.
They’re gonna work in the factories in the camps. And then they’ll be back at the end of the war. So, my mother got picked because she was the oldest daughter, and my dad was taken because he was the oldest son. And so, the two of them went off from different places to Germany, and they became basically servants to the, to the war machine.
And my mom was in a factory with 400 other women that were making munitions, and she survived all of that. Many women died of course, because there were bombs falling on those places every night, but she survived because she had favor. She didn’t know it, but she had a, a strong affinity for learning languages quickly.
So, she learned a German language fast. She was a Ukrainian. So, she spoke Ukrainian well, but once she picked up on the German language, she became the translator for those 400 women with the German officers. So, she had favor and survived that for four years. My dad on the other hand where he came to, he actually got into a lot of trouble for pushing back on orders.
And he ended up in a concentration camp and almost died at the end of the war and was saved at the very end. He tells the story that the American troops came through and they, when they were liberated and they threw two things over the fence, they threw ’em bread, and chocolate. And people of the other side of the fence were emaciated and loved the bread and enjoyed the chocolate.
And they thought the Americans were the greatest thing they had ever seen. But then they both went into separate refugee camps. And in the refugee camps, there was a woman who was, had gone to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. And she was back there trying to be a minister to her people… missionary really.
So, she set up worship groups in the camps. My parents separately went to these worship groups and began to attend church, and then my parents met. They married in the camp, and they became believers. And they were so radically saved that my dad said, you know, everything was worth something in the barter market there so you could survive. If you had whiskey, you could trade it for food. If you had tobacco, you could trade it for anything like meat. And what happened was when he got saved, he flushed it all in the toilet because he felt like he was called to a new life in Christ. And he and my mom got married then, and they moved around in refugee camps in Germany for three years and had three kids.
But they were radically saved. And then suddenly this woman wrote back to someone she roomed with at moody, and they, this woman lived in Northern Minnesota and, and attended a small Baptist church in sandstone, and the church was asked if they could take in refugees. And so, they agreed to take in 125 people. And all the people that they brought to America, were either old or had kids or had problems where nobody wanted them to come because most countries wanted refugees to come who had a strong back, or who had an education or could work in their country and not be needy. But these people signed off to bring them to America. So, they came, they stayed up there for a year and then they went down to Chicago,
where they started their life working in factories. So, I say all of that because my parents became part of the Ukrainian Baptist church in Chicago. It was the biggest Ukrainian church in America at the time. And what happened was they were both factory workers in both worked two jobs for most of my life.
We moved up to Minneapolis because the church there wanted a music minister. My dad was good at music. When we got up to Minneapolis, what happened was by that time we’d grown to seven. I was born with my brother in America… What we found was that we were latchkey kids, with two parents working in two jobs all the time, and always being gone, we would come home, and it was just us. And so, the problem with that is that you get into trouble. And so sure enough, my brother and I became thieves, and we would because we were poor, we’d go to stores and we’d with a gang of guys in the neighborhood and we’d cover for one another and we’d steal things, candy things to eat, cigarettes… we stole a lot of cigarettes cuz we could sell. And so, we became thieves and we were, we were stealing from all the stores around our place for years. And we did everything we could to bring money in, cuz our parents couldn’t afford to buy us clothes and pay for things for school. So, we had to figure out how to get that money ourselves.
So, I got into bad habits. I got into bad relationships, and eventually in my junior highs, a I became a, a drug pusher, and I, I sold pot and acid to my friends because there were people that I knew that were older, that would supply me with that. And I would sell things like that in my school. Meanwhile, at school I became a star athlete in basketball, and I was pretty smart.
So, I was in advanced classes. So, I had this push and pull in my own spirit and mind about who I was gonna be, but I certainly had a bad crowd that I was running with. In ninth grade,, I robbed a house near where I was living. I was already working late all the time. I got a, I paid for a fake social security card, cuz you couldn’t work till you were 16, but I paid a hundred dollars,
I think. My brother turned me onto him, and I got a fake social security card and started working at 14, but that kept me at restaurants work until 11 at night, 12 at night. And I would walk home, and I could tell who was on vacation and who wasn’t. And so, one night I broke into a house, and I stole a bunch of the stuff there, cuz I thought, you know, I could sell it and make some money on it.
And somebody called the cops who saw me, and they surrounded me and put me on the ground and with guns and to my head, and they took me to jail that night. And when I went to jail, my father came to bail me out and he was, by that time, he was pretty influential in the Ukrainian Baptist church in America, and he was so ashamed of what I had done.
He, when I got home, he pulled out a gun and said he would kill me because of what I’d done. And the police came back to pick me up and saved me from that. But that’s when I realized that I was really off track, but it was from there that I ended up going to, to be exposed in like Christian camps. And there I met kids that were different, and kids who talked about the Lord in a special way, and they just acted differently.
I began to see there was a better way to live. But I continued on my road. And when I was 18, I had to make a decision about going to college. How I could pay for it. And I realized I needed to go to the Navy, and I went into the Navy for two years and got the VA bill. And because of the GI bill, I was able to get outta college and I went west to California, to UCLA and went to school there and the Navy paid my way. Then, I went to Hawaii for a year in the middle of all that time. I’m still unsaved at this point. I don’t know the Lord at all. My parents are praying for me, but I don’t even think about it. And I went to Hawaii, and I met my future wife at the time.
She was a very spiritual person and I fell in love with her, and we had a long distance relationship cuz I went back to UCLA and finished, and she went to school at University of Hawaii. We got married. And then I had met somebody who lived with me in Hawaii, whose mother was a general manager of a Hawaiian radio station in Honolulu.
And I painted her house one Christmas break. She talked to me the whole time about going to broadcasting. In my mind, I was thinking, well, I’m gonna be a pre-law student at UCLA and I’m gonna go to law school. So, I didn’t think anything about it. So, when I graduated and we got married, I brought my wife back to LA and I was accepted to Pepperdine law school.
And so, I started law school and didn’t like it. And I said to my wife, do you mind if I give up law school and start to work? And I called the lady in Hawaii and said, I think I’d like to try broadcasting. So, she said, okay, I’ll get you an interview when you come back. So, we went back to Hawaii to live. While I was there, I went on some interviews and the guy who hired me was running the biggest rock and roll radio station in Hawaii called 98 Rock.
So, I became the general manager of 98 rock a year later because he left. The problem was, I was not born again, and I was involved with a lot of drugs and a lot of really bad things. I, I attended over 200 concerts by the biggest rock groups in the world; the Police, Aerosmith, everybody who was anybody at the time came through town and I got front row seats.
I was the general manager, and I had all this money and success and I got into more drugs and got into more trouble. And I became a cocaine addict, and it got so bad that at one point, when my son was born, I have one son and he was born, and I started having shaking fits. And I couldn’t stop shaking because I was doing coke and alcohol at night, going to work in the day, taking drugs to stay awake because of the abuse at night.
So, now I’m in, in my thirties, early thirties and I went to the doctors. They couldn’t tell me what was wrong with me, but I had to work remotely, you know, like during COVID, I worked at home for about nine months, but I was still the general manager because we were so successful. My wife was saying, you know, TJ, God can heal you.
And I was like, oh, that’s not for me. You know, that’s my parents’ religion. That’s, that’s not anything I wanna be a part of. And then one night I, I was in my condominium there in Kahala and I opened the Bible and it talked about healing. And I fell on my knees in my condo. I felt almost like a ray of sunshine came in the room. This is at night. I felt so much heat come onto my body, and I knew that something had happened, and I gave my life to Christ, and I got up, went to work the next day, like nothing had happened. I was healed and I was radically saved. I suddenly I could see I was on the wrong road. I was doing broadcasting that was leading people down a bad path.
And I worked there for about six more months. And then I told them I’m not gonna work here anymore. And I gave notice and said, I’m going to work in Christian broadcasting. So, this is 1988. My wife and I left Hawaii, and we went to the mainland and live and I sent my resume to about 200 broadcasters and nobody called me back.
So, for about two years, I kind of did jobs here and there to stay alive. And finally, I was living in Ventura, California with my wife and my son, and I said to the Lord, I can’t make it anymore. I’m, I’m broke. I left everything to follow you, and now I don’t have anything. And I said, I have to make a decision because I gotten a call from a Hawaii broadcaster who said, come back here, be the general manager of my stations.
I’ll make you the president and part owner. So, I said, okay, let me think about, of course of what I was really saying. Let me pray about it cuz we are actively involved and the faith at that point. and I asked the Lord, I said, look, this is it. I, I, I need to know, am I on the wrong road trying to go into Christian broadcasting?
Am I on the right road? But I have to feed my family. And I was at the beach in my car one morning, and I was sitting there having a cup of coffee and I knew the Lord spoke to me, and he said, go home to my house. And I said, why am I going home? And he said, it’s beginning. And I turned my car on, went back home and my wife said, what are you doing home?
It was 9:30 in the morning. I said, I don’t know but something’s about to happen. Poured myself a cup of coffee in the phone rang. And it was someone from Kat’s radio, the big, the big radio national sales group. And it was Ed Marshack was his name, and he said, where are you? Pat Robertson is looking for you. I said, wow, really? And so, he gave me a number and nobody could find me because we were so far out of broadcasting. It was just hard to find me, but he knew where we were. And three days later, I was sitting at breakfast with Pat Robertson, and he hired me to be a VP. in radio. And so, my whole life began in Christian broadcasting that day in 1990.
And I worked with them for seven years, and I actually worked mostly internationally over a Christian TV station in south Lebanon that reached most of the middle east. And then also it was about that time, that the Berlin wall had fallen a couple years before. And the Eastern European nations that were part of Russia were set free.
There was no more Soviet union. And one day all the broadcasters in all these countries walked out and went back to Moscow. They were called back. Moscow couldn’t pay them anymore. And so, every single nation from Budapest to the Czech Republic to Poland and the Ukraine, actually went into the stations, cuz there was no broadcast that morning and they found everything empty, all the equipment intact, but everybody gone, and they figured it out.
They had their stations to use as they wished as a nation. And they thought, well, how are we gonna pay for this? Cuz they were broke, cuz they were part of the fractured Soviet union. And somebody said, well, Christians buy time, so they contacted CBN and a couple of others of us and said, would you be willing to buy time on our stations?
And so, I went out with four other gentlemen, and we went across the Soviet union and we just did deals. I was in an office in, in Kiev signing a contract to put the 700 club and super book for kids on. There were only two stations in all of the Soviet union at that time, and we were on both of them.
So very cheap price, $500 for an hour. And so we were on every day, Monday through Friday, and it radically changed the Soviet union, the former Soviet union. So many people came to Christ in those years. It was unbelievable. And, and so, we did things internationally that I could only dream of. And I ended up working in or in some way, or living in 49 countries during my broadcast career, Christian broadcast career.
When that finished, I came back to work in America, and we moved back to California, and I took over a group of 30 Christian TV stations. And so, we were, we were in 30 cities with our TV stations. And then from there, I went to work with Salem broadcasting, which has the fish and some other things.
And I was the, a VP regional for them. I ran Hawaii, San Diego and Sacramento. And then as time went on, God brought me more and more to do. And so, what’s happened in my life is that one single decision that I made on my knees that day, in that night in Kahala, when I gave my life to the Lord, he gave me the whole world.
I came to CRISTA four and a half years ago. Honestly, they called me to come and fix some things and I thought, well, I’ll sign a consulting agreement with you. And I did two, three-month contracts and it went so well, the Lord showed me so much to do that was, would, would change the culture and make things successful… I just followed the Lord. Really. I just, I just prayed, and he showed me what to do, and it’s been wonderful. The journey as we watched it become fruitful and successful. So, I’ve been here since that time, 2017. Now we look at CRISTA and what it does, and it’s, it’s pretty amazing as CRISTA has ministries that reach the whole world.
But when I look back now and I think about my journey, I think about the apostle Paul, and I think about how he was radically saved. He was on the Damascus road when that happened. He was actually seeking to find Christians to kill them. And in my experience, I was actually so lost that I was living in a Christian household, I was a thief. I was a liar. I was someone who took advantage of other people. And I remember when I became a believer and I was radically saved, for about five years after that every single person I ran into on the street in every city I’d ever worked with, or if I ran into them, I apologized. They said, why are you apologizing?
And I’d say, well, I just want to be clean with you. If I hurt you in any way, if I did something to you, I wanna make sure that I’m right with you. And some of them were like, you don’t need to apologize to me. But I knew I did things that were bad because I was a mean-spirited broadcaster in rock and roll, and I, I went along with that culture because I was successful. But then when I came to the Lord, my eyes were opened. I was set free from drug addiction. I never had drugs again. And I was very freely using drugs for many, many years. I never, never smoked a cigarette anymore. Never, never really went down those roads again because I didn’t have the desire to do it.
Something happened. Not just in my spirit, but my mind was renewed, and my flesh didn’t crave the same things in that life. So, when I look back and think about what I was to where I am, it’s pretty radical. And a lot of the people I worked with in those years are dead. It’s a lot of people that have died for whatever reason; drug abuse just physically their body’s breaking down because of the partying lifestyle.
And I find myself as I’m getting older, I feel younger. I feel more vibrant. I feel a calling to do more. I’m a global thinker in the sense that I’ve worked abroad in all these countries. And I do think about the world differently. I’m an example of the redemptive power of God, where you can actually be the worst of sinners and you can come to the Lord and he can renew you, and use you, and make you fruitful.
And even my son and his family and all the generations, my nieces, nephews, my grandchildren, everybody is born again. Because the scripture says that he’s faithful to a thousand generations for those who do his will. So, I’m bearing the fruit of that. And my parents started it. They’re the ones who came to Christ in a, in a refugee camp at the end of world war II.
They’re the ones who made a commitment to Christ radically to start it. And I think my wife and I talk about how we’re tied to that generational blessing. And so, we get called when we do these things, because it’s part of their story and it’s part of our story. And I’m convinced it’ll be part of the next generation’s following story in our life.
So from my perspective, you can’t get saved too soon. But it’s never too late to become saved and born again and regenerated. And I actually look back now, and think was that really me? But of course, it was because we were latchkey kids. We grew up in a house where people didn’t speak English, we didn’t know anything. And we were influenced by everybody else. And we went down the wrong roads, my brother and me. He died at 18. He lived a rough life. And I survived and I thank God that he had the mercy for me to go through that and come out the other side of it. So, my story should be a beacon of light for people who think there’s no hope for them or for their generations, cuz the Lord can do anything with anybody, if they submit to him with their whole heart.
Narrator: We are telling these stories of transformation so you can know and understand the power of Jesus in your own life. If you’d like to learn more about Jesus and how he can bring you back to life, visit us at on purposely.com/who is Jesus. And if you like Brought Back To Life, please give us a five-star rating and a review.
You can follow Brought Back To Life podcasts on iHeart radio or wherever you’re listening right now. You can also just tell your smart speaker, play Brought Back To Life podcast. I’m Sam Kelly. Rebecca Beckett produced this episode. Our audio editor is Scott Karow. And thanks for listening to Brought Back To Life from Purposely.