History of AB.com
in response to a request received in 2001
"Hi Andrey, Your site looks very interesting, I have been debating getting into online evangelism or some type of Christian outreach online. I have web page experience so that part is not a challenge particularly. I wondered how you started, what gave you the idea to use what you did etc. If you can spare the time I would appreciate any tips you can give. When I get a site up I would like to link to you if I may." - thrilled visitor
I thank you for your visit to the website, as it helps confirm God's will for it, but I do not know how much of a help I shall be to you. All the information below is on the website, but not organized to answer how I got here. So, here goes:
I never intended to have a personal ministry over the internet, I thought at one point in my life that God was going to have me become a Navy Chaplain. But God made it very clean to me that I was wrong. I never set out to do this. What happened?
Well, it started in the Autumn of 1998, when I was getting sick and tired of saying the same things to people over and over. At the time, I worked as a Vocational Rehab Counselor, and was telling young, totally blind people the same things I had told my Sunday School class and young sailors and their families for years.
To be brutally honest, I had gotten sick and tired of saying the same things over and over. That was God's way of redirecting my energies into publishing it. A wonderful man had published a book, and asked me to edit it, so I had a taste of publishing already. His website on prophecy, bible codes, and more is at www.ad2004.com. Another friend had done his own vanity website publishing his pencil art of women, which was how God gave me the idea for a website. If this friend of my brother's could publish what he called art work on the web, why couldn't I publish my articles and saying and analogies on the web?
To go back ten more years, I had gotten sick and tired of reading scripture! I had read EVERY English language version available, some more than once, and some in other languages, and was tired of it. The words had become dead to me. That was God's way of redirecting my energies into paraphrasing the entire New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs. I refused to do it using pencil and legal pad, then realized He had never told me to use those tools. So I bought my first computer (Apple //e) back in 1981 or so, and three years later, the APSV (Andrey P. Swystun Version) was complete. It was an emotionally challenging project that changed me forever, and that was God's goal all along. No, it never has been published, and in fact, most of it has been lost. A small piece exists on my website as the last page of the treatise on Divorce.
Back to 1998. In November, I was very sick, and could not go to work. So, stuck at home with internet access and nothing to do, I decided to learn how to publish web pages and started on Geocities.
I put up articles and analogies that I had embraced since reading Steven Covey's "7 Habits of Successful People" and that was about it. I broke it into several categories, growth, purpose, career, money, crisis, compassion, stress management, inspiration, tidbits of life and interdependence. I linked to books that I found helpful in my life, and wanting to make it easier for visitors, made links directly to Amazon.com so that they could order the books. I didn't really care about my cut of those sales. I wanted visitors to get what they had come to get.
I added powerful events from my life, that really got to my soul. After they were up awhile, I realized that I could organize them in sequence as the Gospel According to Andrey, since they are my story.
I realized after a few months, that to be taken seriously, I would have to spend money. I needed to have my own domain, because if I was using free services, I was saying that my efforts were not worth spending any money on. If I was unwilling to invest my money where God was making me invest my time, what was I saying to the world about the message I was freely giving?
I was led to take the motto of my graduate school "Achieving Balance in an Unbalanced World" and did. They have since changed theirs to the better (in my opinion) "Maintaining Balance in an Unbalanced World". Thus the name www.achievebalance.com.
Then I had to find a host. I didn't like anything that I found, even though I am usually not very picky. That was God's way of telling me to start my own company, so I became a reseller of web space. I founded www.webhost4you.com and it now hosts many websites. I never expected to have more than 5, so you see my expectations of my own life and walk with Christ have been extremely inaccurate when compared to what God actually does with me. I now design many of them because the skills I developed to improve my website (you can see the transitions it went through by going to achievebalance.com/_old and clicking on the various versions) people started asking me to use for them.
After that got settled, God clearly told me to add more pages of content. I added my treatise on divorce (written in 1985 or 1986) and it virtually instantly jumped to the tops of the charts on the search engines. (See those results on achievebalance.com/data/searchengines ). I added more stories from my own life, how God taught me lessons, because the scripture from 2nd Corinthians Chapter One, verses 3 and 4 started to hit me hard.
God had me put up more analogies, and more of my life events. Very little of what is on my website is something that I studied hypothetically, except as mentioned on this page. Virtually all of it is from my life. I have been active is spiritual weekend retreats since September 1988, and there have been touched by God on a regular basis. Those stories are on the site also.
I had been used by God to touch some people's lives on those retreats by acting out with them scenes from scripture. Specifically, depending on whether I was encouraging a man or a woman, I would use the scripture regarding the angel's visit to Gideon or the angel's visit to Mary. These paraphrases were SO POWERFUL, that I put them, and others on the website years later.
My wife's good friend in Georgia, had done work on the classical "Bible Book Search" and expanded it. With his permission, my son and I expanded his work, and put it on this website! That was fun for all of us!
I had also worked on an Old Testament Time Line back in 1984, which I never wanted to publish, but God told me to put that up about a year ago, and it quickly became a top page on the website.
When I retired from the Navy, we forgot to video-tape the retirement ceremony as I had wanted. So, I had nothing but some pictures. Well, I still had the speech I gave, and since I didn't want to lose it, I put that up on this site. Now, that page is very well received by search engines and visitors. Trust me, I don't understand why that is so.
I have always liked quotes that made sense, so I realized that having my own website allowed me to list them so that I would not lose them. There are two sets of quotes on my site, one set that scrolls by on the home page, and another set of quotes which can be gotten in graphic format for printing.
I also had received many 'neat' emails, and decided to not forward them on to others, but to publish them on my site. That way, I would not be 'dumping them' into other peoples' email boxes, but having them online for those that want to see them. I named that section "Read'n'Think".
Since I was doing professional work with blind people, I wanted to put much of the good advice for them into one place, so the page "Blind Webbing" was born.
With my long-standing interest in history, and how the different cultures of this planet remember things differently, I finally put some of that work up on the website, naming it "Genesis". It is not yet complete.
With all this content going up, I believed that people would want to know WHY I felt I had the credentials to say what I say. So, I put my "Resume" on the site. It is very non-traditional.
A lot of this hard work started to bring awards to the website, so I started an awards section when they became too numerous to list on the home page.
I had done some work with 12 step groups, and put things related to that part of my life on the website. It is far from finished.
Yes, I found Christians condemning both me and recovering alcoholics. Well, condemnation by Christians has been a constant factor in my life. Christians condemned me before I was saved, because I was destined for hell. They also hated me for out-debating them, since their beliefs were shallower than my thought process. Since then, they have condemned me for not being a part of the status quo, and in fact for rejecting it. I play Pokemon card games with my children, we watch the Pokemon cartoons together, I read the first four Harry Potter books to them and took them to see the movie. I do not tithe to organized religion nor do I condemn the divorced nor the abused.
I do not condemn Catholics, Protestants, Tarot Cards (I know their Christian origin!), Muslims, Buddhists, Incas, Aztecs, Ancient Greeks, Babylonians, etc. I have told people that I am excited that Satan is active in my life, (because of what that really means!) and I have even written and published to my website an open letter to Satan. This conflict with the organized church led to deepening my concern for spirituality, and my relationship with my Creator. That led to the section on Judeo-Christian Spirituality. Parts of it are very hard-hitting and thus unpopular. They are entitled "Biblical Confusion", "What is Truth", "Hordes of Hell", and "Why Are These Unhealthy?" These are not finished, either.
I recently added a section on helping people meet other people, named Relationships. I plan to put several articles on friendship, etc. on that page, and will get to it.
In fact, I pause here a second to thank you for your walk with God. If not for your question, I would not have put something like this together at all. I would not have cared to do so, I have enough to do. But, now that I am putting this together for you, I will probably put this into a web page, with links to each part of the website mentioned as I go along. God has used you to put up a new feature on my website, and I am honored by you and Him.
I never expected to get tens of thousands of hits in one month, as I probably will this month. I never planned to have a 'ministry' over the internet. I never planned to be a paid webmaster, or a member of the board of directors for Children Are Hope, a non-profit agency helping orphans in Ukraine (which is the country of my parents' birth). I didn't plan to be the owner/founder of a web hosting company that hosts several wonderful ministries as well as several local businesses. I didn't plan these things. I didn't see them in my future. Now, this website is taking so much time to keep up with, and to add all the new content coming my way, that I made need it to start making money so that I can devote myself to it full time.
I still have many of the above sections to finish, and more to add. There's the story of the conversations that God had with the key players in heaven before mankind was created. This novel-like story explains how Lucifer became Satan, how Jesus volunteered for His part and addresses many of the 'why's' we ask. This is so major, and my wife really wants me to finish and publish it. The poetry I wrote during my high school years, which were very depressing years for me, may touch many lives, and I am starting to believe that they also belong up here. I have content regarding the Harry Potter series, the computer game "Saints of Virtue", and more waiting for me to get it here. I already spend from 10 to 30 hours a week on this, along with having a full time job, a working wife and two children approaching adolescence. Isn't life fun?
How does all this affect you? I do not know. On my credits page, I have listed all the software I bought, all the books I have read, all the people that were a big help and inspiration in my work on the website on my website. I have listed the changes to the site, in the same way that software companies list changes to software, to create a history of the site over the years.
I didn't do any of this to succeed, I did it because I was told to do it. God is showing me that I need to stop focusing on results, and focus instead on obedience. It is a difficult struggle, as I love being in control, or at least, I love being under the illusion that I am in control. I am trying hard to forget the results of my actions, and focus on the One Who is telling me what to do next. Some would say I have a measure of success, bless their hearts. I really needed to have the following quote enter my life, and I repeat it here:
"Strive not to be a success, strive instead to be of value."
- Albert Einstein