An evangelical pastor murdered while praying in Tajikistan.

By January 19, 2004

Tajikistan (MNN)–Unknown assailants shot and killed a Baptist missionary pastor in the northern Tajikistan town of Isfara. The murder, one week ago today, is one of a number of growing incidents of violence taking place against believers in the region.

Bible Mission International’s Malcolm Smith says an investigation has been launched into the killing of Sergei Besarab. He died in a hail of bullets as he was praying over a meal in his home. “He was the one that was being targeted. He had been threatened several times, personally, this past year. He was a very dynamic man that just loved people, and he had won several of the young Muslims in the community to Christ. They [Police] believe, at this point, that that’s probably the motivation for the killing.”

When his wife, Tamara, heard the shots and rushed in from another room, he was already dead. Abdurahim Qahhorov, Tajikistan’s deputy interior minister, said that law-enforcement agencies are taking measures to detain the perpetrators.

Local police have refused to comment on the case, but there are reports that the pastor’s active missionary work, including the distribution of Tajik-language evangelistic booklets, had aroused the anger of some local people.

Smith says Besarab became a believer in prison, was subsequently trained by Bible Mission, only recently entering into his mission. “We’re confident that the whole project of planting churches in this strategic part of the world will not be hindered by this incident. They’ve already started 11 evangelistic groups, so that tells you just how powerful he was in the ministry.”

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