Dagestan (MNN) — Christians in Russia and around the world
mourned the loss of Artur Suleimanov as he was laid to rest last week in
Dagestan, republic in the Northern Caucus region of Russia.
On July 15, Suleimanov was gunned down while outside of
Hosanna Church in Makhachkala, the church he led. He died a short time later
from his injuries.
Russian Ministries reports that throughout his ministry he
received threats from radical Muslims–he himself being a former Muslims and
thus considered an apostate. In countries with high Muslim populations,
apostates can be punished by death; Dagestan is 98 percent Muslim.
As officials investigate Suleimanov's death, though no one has been
found responsible, they have not ruled out radicals as the attackers.
Not dwelling on his death, Suleimanov's congregation celebrates his
life, recalling him as a "strong, supportive and positive leader."
Anita Deyneka of Russian Ministries told ASSIST News, "Under
his leadership, the church ran a rehab center, developed an anti-drug campaign
and a prison ministry. The church also had a café that was open to the community."
Ironically, the same week Suleimanov was killed, Russian
Ministries' School Without Walls was holding summer camp in Makhachkala for
children from nearby Karbardino-Balkaria, when that region exploded with violence.
According to Associated Press, assailants attacked a
hydroelectric station, killing two workers and setting off bombs, in what has
since been deemed militant violence.
A mostly-peaceful region since 2005, this is the second
outbreak of violence in Karbardino-Balkaria, also located in the Northern
Caucus region of Russia, since their leader was killed in March.
Now, as Suleimanov's congregation moves forward with ministry
in this unstable region, pray for their strength, courage and unity. Pray that they will
trust God for the unforeseen future and not succumb to fear. Pray for their
continued witness in the mostly Muslim region. Also pray for Vladimir Chumakov,
the assistant pastor, as he takes over the responsibilities of senior pastor.
Click here to learn more about Russian Ministries.