Russia (MNN) — Russia's political, civic and religious leaders
are condemning a coordinated arson attack Monday in the Northern Caucasus.
Joel Griffith with
Slavic Gospel Association says, "There were two Russian orthodox churches
that went up in flames, as well as a House of Prayer belonging to the Union of Evangelicals
Christians Baptist (UECB — supported by SGA).
Apparently, this is just a group
of unidentified people, and these were simultaneous acts."
The unknown attackers threw flammable objects through the
churches' windows in both Karachayevsk and Ordzhonikidzevskaya. "These were probably Muslim extremists that
were attacking the church. The investigation is still underway,"says Griffith.
However, since the North Caucasus Islamic
insurgency has not been active in Karachayevo-Cherkessia, this
situation is unnerving, Griffith says. "Incidents like that have been relatively rare. I would imagine that they'll
be consulting together just to see what steps they can take to help enhance
their security a little bit."
He adds that believers there have faced difficult
circumstances before and won't be intimidated into silence. "If I know anything about our brothers and
sisters there, this is just going to make them all the more determined to
proclaim the Gospel, because that's really the ultimate answer to violence such
From the UECB's press statement, it is
clear that ministry will continue. "On behalf of all churches of Russian UECB, we
thank the authorities of Karachaevo-Cherkessia Republic for their willingness
to provide versatile help in restoration of the buildings of Christian churches
which were damaged by fire."
The Head mufti of Chechen Republic,
Sultan Mirzaev, said, "One should not be afraid of those who believe on the
Most High. One should be afraid of those who do not believe in anyone. We pray
for interdenominational peace and social stability in Northern Caucasus."
The head of the regional Spiritual Administration
for Muslims considered a darker side. He
wondered if the arsons were aimed more at stirring up antipathy between the
Christians and Muslims.
Griffith says, "Pray for more opportunities for the Gospel.
Obviously, with things like this, especially when there's been an across-the-board
attack like this, you're hoping that this would cause everybody within the Christian camp just
to support one another."