On Sunday 18 February a local Islamic jihadi attacked Christians as they emerged from Kizlyar’s Russian Orthodox church.
They had been ushering in Lent when the gunman approached, cried “Allahu Akbar” and opened fire. To keep the gunman outside, believers barricaded the church door while police shot the gunman dead.
Four Christian women were killed instantly; a fifth died later in hospital. Four others were wounded. Islamic State claimed responsibility.
More than 3400 Chechen and Dagestani Muslims have travelled to Syria for jihad; an estimated 400 have returned. The attack comes in the wake of an intervention from Moscow aimed at ending clan-based systemic corruption. One analyst likened Dagestan to ‘a disturbed anthill’. A new administration has been installed; tensions are boiling.
Source: Religious Liberty Prayer Bulletin
- Pray the Lord will pour out His grace on the church, to bring comfort and peace to those who grieve and are fearful.
- Ask the Lord to grant His favour to the authorities and lead them well as they seek to end corruption and protect the people.
- Pray this tragedy will not be in vain, ask the Lord to use this recent violence to strengthen the church and draw people to Himself.
“What is it?” Soviet captain Marco snarled at the young boy. “What do you want?”
The boy, only twelve, swallowed his fear as he stood before the Communist officer. “Captain, you are the man who put my parents in prison. Today is my mother’s birthday, and I always buy her a flower for her birthday.”
“Since my mother taught me to love my enemies and to reward evil with good, I have brought the flower instead for the mother of your children. Please take it home to your wife tonight, and tell her about my love and the love of Christ.”
Captain Marco, who had watched unmoved as Christians had been unmercifully beaten and tortured, was stunned at the act of love of this boy. His tears fell as he slowly walked around the desk and grabbed the boy in a fatherly embrace. Marco’s heart was changed by the gift of Christ’s love. He could no longer arrest and torture Christians, and soon he himself was arrested.
Only months after the boy’s visit to his office, Marco slumped in a filthy prison cell surrounded by some of the same Christians he had previously arrested and tortured. He tearfully told his cell mates of the young boy and the simple gift of a flower. He considered it an honor to share a cell with those he had previously hunted and attacked.
Generosity is second nature to the believer. Jesus taught that others would recognize real believers by their demonstration of love. And not just for those who love us in return. Oftentimes, generosity toward strangers and even enemies is the best application of Jesus’ teachings. Witnesses to our acts, if not the recipients themselves, are befuddled at the sight. Imagine a wounded Christian worker who prays for the boss who unjustly fired him or her. Picture the impact of grieving parents who give the gift of forgiveness to a drunk driver. The world doesn’t understand generosity. However, it is affected by it all the same. We find we are never more like God himself as when we give generously to others. God gave his only Son to demonstrate his love for the world and purchase our salvation. What could you give today that might open someone’s heart to God’s kingdom?
Story from our daily devotional book. For more info go to https://vom.com.au/shop/books/extreme-devotion-with-study-guide-voice-of-the-martyrs/
“Is it my birthday today, or yours?” the young Christian asked, a twinkle in her eye. “Yours today,” said her father. “Mine was last week.”
For Christians in Communist nations, birthdays were a great excuse to get together with other believers. Some families would gather each week for a birthday party that was really an underground church service. Young people used these “parties” to strengthen their commitment to the gospel. In 1966 in Russia, three young boys and four girls were arrested for singing a hymn on a train.
In court, the seven young people fell to their knees. “We surrender ourselves into the hands of God,” they said in front of the judge and the gathered witnesses. “We thank you, Lord, that you have allowed us to suffer for this faith.” After their confession, other Christians in the courtroom began to sing the very hymn for which the kids had been arrested. They said, “Let us dedicate our youth to Christ.”
The Communists couldn’t stop the church from meeting and growing.
One Russian newspaper told of a pastor who had been sent to prison three times. Each time he was released, he immediately went and held Sunday school meetings. These believers used whatever means possible to express their loyalty to God. They risked and suffered the condemnation of their country in service to God’s church.
In order for our physical muscles to get stronger, they must first be broken down and stretched through exercise and hard work. Likewise, faith is a muscle that only grows when it is flexed. Suffering flexes the muscle of our faith. We are stretched and “broken” before God during times of trials. Yet we grow stronger as a result. Churches in restricted nations exhibit enormous strength because of their sufferings. Can the same be said of our faith in Australia? Exercise wears us out—we don’t want to do it. Similarly, the thought of suffering may disturb you. However, you cannot grow if you don’t flex your faith.
Taken from Voice of the Martyrs book Extreme Devotion:
The upper chamber of the Russian Assembly has approved what is being referred to by one Christian organisation as an “anti-missionary bill”.
Mission Eurasia’s Sergey Rakhuba says the bill “prohibits missionary and evangelistic activity in residential areas of Russia and limits missionaries to acting only on behalf of registered religious groups. Any person speaking on behalf of a church or religious organisation will be required to carry specific documentation of their registration with them at all times. Additionally, foreign missionaries would only be permitted to work at the invitation of registered religious groups.”
He said the bill, approved on 29 June, is “the most draconian anti-religion bill to be proposed in Russia since Nikita Khrushchev promised to eliminate Christianity in the Soviet Union.
“For years we have watched as huge changes take place in Russia under the increasingly dictatorial rule of President Putin and his administration. Freedom of religion represents a threat to the current political agenda in Russia. Today, few—if any—foreign Christian mission groups have an official presence in Russia, having been pushed out by anti-evangelical regulations.
If President Vladimir Putin signs the new amendments into law, penalties will include fines and imprisonment.
Source: World Watch Monitor, Forum 18 New Service
- Thank the Lord that the Gospel will be proclaimed and that no weapon against His Word will prosper (Isaiah 54:17).
- Pray His church in Russia will not become despondent but may be moved by the Holy Spirit to be bold in living out their Christian witness.
- Pray this proposed opposition may serve to bring great faithfulness and unity to the church in Russia.