Russia (MNN) – Last Sunday, an Islamic extremist opened fire at a Russian church during a time of festivities. Slavic Gospel Association’s Joel Griffith shares:
“Basically as we understand it, there were five women killed at a shooting. And it was actually an Orthodox church in Dagestan. And then you have five other people, including a police officer and a guardsmen that were injured. Apparently, the security forces were able to shoot and kill the attacker at the scene. And it was a young 22-year-old Dagestan native that did this.”
Violence in Dagestan
Shortly after, ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. However, this is just one of the many instances of terrorist violence that’s taken place across this region in the past couple decades. With that said, it’s a dangerous area, especially for Christians, and ministry has to be conducted discreetly.
“The Gatestone Institute put together a pretty good article back in 2014, and I’m sure it’s still the case only a few years later. But it was called, ‘Dagestan: The New Epicenter of Muslim Terrorism in Russia.'” Griffith says.
“And I guess that you know Dagestan—it’s the largest republic that’s in that North Caucuses region, they’re saying that it’s possibly the most violent spot in the entire Russian Federation.”
However, the recent violence doesn’t mean the Russian government hasn’t been trying to tame the terrorist actions in the region—because it has. It’s even harder to suppress jihadists in Dagestan than it is in Chechnya, which was recently recognized for making Russia fertile ground for ISIS recruitment.
It’s clear extremist violence and terror attacks are an ongoing matter. In modern history as far back as the 1972 Olympics held in Munich, Israeli athletes and coaches were slaughtered in what became the Munich Massacre. This was one of the first times a terror attack was broadcasted in the media.
In the present day, we have entire generations who’ve grown up with the terms “Islamic extremist,” “jihadi,” and “terrorist” thrown around in everyday speech. It’s a violence which has become a part of the world’s everyday narrative.
Continuing the Conversation
So why keep talking about it? Because it reminds us of the urgency to share the Gospel.
“We have our marching orders from our Lord and Savior. He said we’re to take the Gospel to every [person], every ethnic group, every nation. You know, we’re supposed to go and make disciples,” Griffith explains.
“And I think as the early martyrs of the Church demonstrated, they weren’t intimidated by the threats of force or being put in prison or even killed for their faith. They knew that the Lord would ultimately triumph.”
It’s also in these regions of extremist violence that Christians still need to share the Gospel because these people, and the people being oppressed by the extremists, need the hope of the Gospel. And while the situation in the region is frightening, the Church’s full fruits there might not be seen until eternity.
“It could have outcomes that we don’t even realize. It’s vital and important that these areas be reached. And honestly, when you look at the ideology, ultimately faith in Jesus Christ and people being born again is really the only solution for this,” Griffith explains.
Supporting the Church
After all, no one else can turn hearts from hate to love other than Jesus Christ. So please, will you help support the Russian Church through prayer and financial support?
Pray for the safety of Christians in Dagestan and the surrounding areas. Ask that God would raise up more workers to go into these areas, live, and share the redemption story. Pray that God would empower and encourage believers in the area to share their faith with their neighbors. And pray that people would be saved through the bold proclamation of the Gospel.
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Header image courtesy of Slavic Gospel Association.