My family moved from Russia to America in 1993 primarily to seek a better and safer life. We lived in a region called Stavropol, Russia. Stavropol, Russia is located in between the Black and Caspian Sea. Our home was about 3 hours away from the boarder of Chechnya. We had debated for a long time whether we should move or stay, but with the persecution of the Soviet Union just subsiding and the growing persecution of the government and Russian Orthodox Church would only add to the social oppression on the Baptists. The danger was not simply in our home country but also from the radical Muslims of Chechnya terrorizing our small town. One day my brother came home from school, excited to tell my mother that he was shot at by a terrorist. Mom didn’t not find it funny at all, and told Alex not joke around like that. Alex came up closer and put his foot before her and showed her the hole in his lower pant leg from the bullet. There was in deed a terrorist who hijacked a bus and was shooting at the police out of the window and one of the bullets seemed to have just miss my older brother by a thread. This was a difficult decision for my parents to make but the truth of the matter was that our own country didn’t want us because we are Baptist and now we had Chechnian Muslims that wish to “convert” us.
After we moved to USA we continued to hear from friends about the Chechnian attacks in Stavropol:
· 1994 – Mineralniye Vody, Stavropol there was another bus hijacking where 6 dead and 19 injured.
· 1997 – in my birth town, Pyatigorsk, Stavropol, Russia, there was bombing of train station, 2 dead and 12 injured.
· 2000 – Pyatigorsk, Stavropol, Russia, 2 car bombings, 1 dead, 6 injured.
· 2003 – September – Stavropol, Russia, train bombing, 7 dead, 90 injured.
· 2003 – December – Stavropol, Russia, train bombing, 47 dead, 186 injured.
· 2010 – May – Stavropol, Russia, Cultural center bombing, 7 dead, 46 injured.
· 2010 – August – Pyatigorsk, Stavropol, Russia, Café bombing, 30 injured.
Chechnya has resisted Russian rule for a long time. The wars of the 1990s between the Russian military and Chechen rebels “ended” only in 2009 with Russian withdrawal and a pro-Moscow president installed. But as we have seen in the Boston bombing on Monday April 15, 2013 there is still must terror coming from the Chechen Muslim radicals. The 1.4 million Chechen are almost entirely Muslim, and international Islamists have radicalized many of them.
We must not think that the next Chechnian we meet is a Muslim radical or that all Chechnyans are the US enemy. I pray that this not become another “9/11” excuse to invade Chechnya. I pray that the Christians would see Chechnya a place that is in desperate need of spiritual reform and in immediate need for prayer. The only way we can have real, deep, fundamental, and genuine change is by the gospel of Jesus Christ. Chechnya has resisted Christianity for a long time. The Christian presence in Chechnya has been largely eliminated or expelled. A small Baptist presence remains in Grozny (capital of Chechnya). Most Christian organizations withdrew to work among refugees in North Ossetia and Ingushetia. Hatred of Russians (and thereby all Christians) and ruthless Islamist groups make ministry extremely sensitive work. (The Voice of the Martyrs).
Brothers and sisters may this tragedy not inflame more hatred and Semitism but rather may it unite us as Christians to; pray for, go to, send to, encourage, and support the remnant of Christians still left in Chechnya.