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Published on 21 July, 2010

Dagestan police try to find answers to pastor’s murder

Dagestan (MNN) —
Authorities in Dagestan are trying to find the underlying cause of the July 16
murder of 49-year-old Artur Suleimanov. He pastored the largest church in the capital city, with an
active inner city outreach. 

Joel Griffith with Slavic Gospel Association says Suleimanov was shot
just outside of the Hosanna House of Prayer in Makhachkala and died of
his wounds a short time later, at the hospital. He leaves behind a wife and five children. Funeral arrangements were not immediately
announced.  

Griffith says police are trying to
answer many questions now. "There's a question as to whether or not this might
have been committed by Muslim extremists. There were some other questions
about whether it might have been because of the church's businesses that were
involved. You have an awful lot of
organized crime that tries to put pressure on private businesses of any
sort." 

Forum 18 reported that this was not the first time the
church and pastor had run-ins. The
attack on Suleimanov came after he was alleged
harassed by the government. He said his church had a five-year agreement
allowing prison visits "abruptly canceled in early 2010" while
officials also "changed" their earlier positive assessment of the
church's work with drug addicts.

Could this incident be a precursor to more? The emerging pattern can't be
disregarded. Griffith says, "It's troubling in the sense that, for the first time that I can think of in recent years, we've had an
evangelical pastor within Russia murdered like that." 

SGA sponsors a church planter in the region and partners with
another pastor. Will their ministry suffer? "The growing pressure on evangelical
Christians in these regions, I think, is such that we're probably going to being
seeing a lot more security consciousness in terms of ministry and supportive
ministries."

Pray for the safety of Suleimanov‘s
surviving family and church. Ask God for
justice in this attack. Pray that violence in the region would not intimidate
Christians into silence.

 

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