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Comforting Those Who Mourn September 2006Written by Jacob Prasch
"If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you... 'A slave is not greater than his master.' If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you" Ã‚ (John 15:18 & 20, NASB )
May we, as Christians remember what they did to our Lord, lest we should ever begin to expect 'better treatment.' They will treat us like they treated Jesus. This is something that The Lord has been fixing my attention on, and hope to write more about later. Christian, be thankful for the rights you are blessed with, but do not ever begin to think you 'deserve' them. In fact, Jesus said quite the opposite regarding the last times. Reading The Gospels, one cannot get around the truth of what Jesus said: everybody is going to hate us because of His Name. This in one promise of God that we too often (and perhaps very willfully) overlook; but it is just a true a promise as His promise to forgive your sins. I'm not saying we are to act stupid, and then cry, 'See! They're persecuting me because i'm a Christian!' (They may just be persecuting you 'cos you did something stupid.) i just want each of us to remember what Jesus promised us. And be that as it may, would any of us choose to gain earthly acceptance and give up our eternal inheritance? May it never be! Realize that persecutions are coming, but Greater Is He Who Is in you than he who is in the world! (1 John 4:4)
i thank and bless The Lord for all His faithfulness in what He's doing here, and i thank all of you who continue to pray and support this service. The CD that's been mentioned about in these reports is one which God blessed me to finish before returning to Russia , and has two specific songs written about Bsln. One is written directly to the broken and hurting people here, and is sung in their languages " “ the words reassure them that Jesus loves them and has not forgotten them. The CD has nine songs on it, and is like a 'rap/rock evangelistic audio tract,' so to speak. My home church (Calvary Chapel Pittsburgh) has agreed to send free copies to those interested, and so drop me a line if you are, and i'll pass your info on to them. Glory be to our Wonderful Lord Jesus! (Also, on a side note, i've been trying to send photos of the kids/families i know here, but the internet here isÃ‚ r e a l l yÃ‚ slow, and i haven't yet had one go through successfully.) These reports hopefully give you more insight into what's going on here... though they obviously are snippets. Too much to write about!
Monday, 9/11/06 " “Ã‚ Vitalik (a young brother in the church here)and i went to Vladikavkaz. Coming back to Bsln, we hung out for awhile at the church's building. We had tea and coffee, and ate some as we talked. God blessed me with the opportunity to tell him of what a great field of ministry they have here. Lord, please raise up more laborers from Bsln " “ to Bsln. Went and taught English to Madina. (Her family, the Tsabolov's, lost their 10-year-old boy, Marat, in the school massacre.) While eating with Madina and Zalina (her mom), Zalina told me how she watched a special last night on September 11 th, and it was very hard for her to watch. i taught Madina, and she did well. I went and visited the Nogayeva family, bringing them my CD and some other small gifts. (Taisya and her 4 daughters were all in that terrible gym; all lived except the second oldest girl.) We talked some, and i had tea and ate some with Taisya and some of the girls. Taisya told me how she and the girls also watched the feature on 9/11. i came back to the church's building for the hour of Bible reading (in Russian). It was God and me today... may He bring who He desires to bring.
Tuesday, 9/12/06 " “ Saw Kazbek, and we talked some. He lost his younger son, Khasan, in the nightmarish bloodshed that took place 2 years ago. He told me that Khasan did better in school than Zaur does. (It's got to be hard for Zaur, as i know he's heard at least once things to the effect of, 'your brother who died did better than you do.' i know his parents love him very much, but i myself have been present on at least one occasion when such a sentiment was expressed.) i went to try and visit the Botolayev family; three family members were in the school during the tragedy " “ the mom (Fatima), the son (Edward '90), and the daughter (Elvira '91). Sadly, only Edward survived. God blessed me to visit with the grandma (Seena), but it was a very hard visit " “ she explained to me that she doesn't understand Russian. It was frustrating, but Jesus helped me to be able to speak to her a little in Ossetian. I told her i wanted to give them some gifts, and gave my CD, chocolates, and some other things. She invited me inside the gate to sit with her for a little. I explained that many people in the US love them, and pray for them, for which she was grateful. I said how their terror attack was terrible to us too, and that The Lord has not forgotten them. I didn't understand a lot of what she said, but it seemed that she was pouring out a little of her heart - that her daughter (or daughter-in-law) and granddaughter were killed there... her son (or son-in-law) has problems with his legs... and so on. Seena's health seems frail at best. She struck me as a simple, quiet old lady that has suffered so much pain, hurt, and sorrow that just glancing at her tired face seems to tell much of her story. God blessed me to say a small prayer with Seena, and i told her to have Edward call me if i can help with anything. I afterwards figured i'd try to stop to visit the Murtazova family. The mom (Fatima) was in the school with her three daughters (Diana '90, Vika '92, and Madina '97). By the grace of God, they all survived, but young Diana is now confined to a wheelchair. The Lord blessed us with a great visit; i mostly hung out with Diana, and got to know a good bit about her. She's spent a lot of time in Germany getting medical treatment, and wants to go back there... she said she can speak German, but can't write it. She has teachers who come to her house and help teach her, and Algebra is her favorite class. Diana wants to study Economics in college, and said her youngest sister is still scared (after the school massacre). The Lord blessed me to give them my disc, and some other things. She doesn't want to study English anymore, and i told her i understood.
I walked through the old school's gym, and saw Zaur and some friends outside. (Zaur lost his younger/only brother in the tragedy " “ 14 year old Khasan.) Zaur and i talked for a little, and he likes my disc and Lecrae's "Real Talk." After heading away, he called back out to me, wanting to make sure no one was messing with me. I said no, and he reminded me to call him if i ever have trouble. I took out my cell phone, which he and friends got back for me after a young guy stole it last year, and said i remembered how he'd helped me before. I thanked him, and he told me to stop by and visit. i went and visited the Mokrov family. The father, Vladimir, was in the school with his youngest son, Stanislav ('94); Vladimir never made it out of that nightmare alive. When Stas (Stanislav) answered the door, he was very happy to see me, as was his mom, Natasha. (i visited them once before, about a year ago; i had tried to see them on other occasions, but they weren't home.) They told me they had received my letter, and Natasha set out tea and food for me to eat. Yah enabled us to have a really great time visiting, and they are very nice people. (Another grandma told me what a nice, quiet man Vladimir was " “ the kind of person who wouldn't even kill a fly.) Natasha still works nightshifts at the railway station, and Stas goes to his grandma's to sleep. (Natasha has two older sons " “ one is married, and has a baby boy.) Stas told me about school and things... he likes swimming, and he likes music and watching cartoons. I was also able to give them my CD (3 " “ one for each of the boys), schedule, and some sweets. I asked if they were doing okay financially, and she said yes. I was able to share with them that The Lord hasn't forgotten about them, and that Jesus loves them.
I then went and visited with Zarina's other babushka, and God also blessed me to have a good opportunity and visit there. (Little Zarina survived the massacre, but lost her younger sister in it.) The Lord enabled me to testify of His justice, and how Jesus loves them and their people... she told me that she has strong faith. She also shared a lot about how much the massacre has affected them. She lost her younger granddaughter, Zalina, in the tragedy " “ Zalina was found without a head, and so forth. Babushka told me what an amazing girl young Zalina had been, and before i left, said " “ 'See, our girl,' and showed me what is basically a shrine to the little girl that they've set up in their living room. I told her to call me if i could help in any way. Much more was said during that visit, but i can't recall all, and i'm getting very tired. All glory be to you, Jesus! Father glorify Your Son, Jesus, and keep and make me more humble! O Lord, how i thank and bless Your Name for all You accomplished today. I attribute all success to You, and acknowledge all failure as being my own. Forgive me where i failed and or sinned, and see my heart to follow You no matter what the cost. I love You, Jesus, my Lord.
Wednesday, 9/13/06 " “ Went to the Baptist Church 's morning fellowship this morning (where Sergei Totiev pastors). It was a good service, and they speak in both languages (Ossetian and Russian). After i left, i went and visited with Valya a little. No one came to the English classes today... oh well. Tsira, Yura, and his sister came early for the Bible study, and so i taught Yura some guitar (E,C,and D). Also gave 3 of my CDs to him; he had previously told me his friend heard and liked it, and wanted one.
Thursday, 9/14/06 " “ Went and visited Khetag (whose younger/only brother died in the school massacre) in the Infection Clinic " “ had a good visit with him and Alla (his mom). The Lord blessed me with opportunities to speak of Jesus being Able to change hearts, The Scriptures, explain about the JWs, and pray for Khetag. Glory be to Yah, it was a time greatly blessed by God. After that, i went and taught Madina (Tsabolova) English.
Friday, 9/15/06 " “ A nightmarish sort of day... had to go to Vladikavkaz 'cos of a problem with my registration here. It's still unresolved, so please keep this in prayer. It's a long story, but in short, the building where I'm at is officially owned by a ministry in a far off city " “ but to be registered with the government, one has to show the official proof that they own the property and agree for the guest to stay there. So i'm looking for an apartment at the present time; pray for God's favor, and a good/quick find.
Saturday, 9/16/06 " “ Azam (a teenage boy who survived the school massacre) and his friend Taimuraz stopped by and we hung out some. Gave them my schedule and CD. The lady came to collect for September's gas bill; when she found out my name was Alan as well, she really seemed to think that was quite amazing and that perhaps i'm meant to be here or something along those lines. Perhaps so... that is really interesting to me as well. (Though Bsln is located in Russia , the vast majority of people here are not ethnically Russian - they're Ossetian. Ossetians are related to Persians, and the ancient ancestors of the Ossetians were a people group called the Alans. Alan is my middle name.) Went and visited with Artur and Aza (old neighbors here), then with Mairbek and his family. (Mairbek is the little boy who survived the terrorist attack; when he was in the gym with his mom, he found a coin in his pocket worth around 20 cents, and asked one of the terrorists to let his mom go if he gave him the money. Mairbek's mom, Anzhela, never made it alive out of that nightmare.) Visiting with Mairbek, Kristina (also a survivor of the massacre, now in college) told me that she has a laptop but doesn't know how to use it much; told her i can help her.
Sunday, 9/17/06 " “ We had our church fellowship today; Yah blessed me to give my CD to Vadim and MadinaÃ‚ (two young adults who sometime attend the meetings). After service, i taught guitar to Madina. She already purchased a guitar and is taking lessons, and doing well for an early beginner! Atsa and Azam stopped by, and we hung out a bit. Atsa (in 10 th grade) survived the massacre, but lost a younger sister there. Azam (11 th grade) also was in the school during the terrorist attack. YHWH blessed me to give both of them copies of my CD, and my schedule to Atsa. And by God's grace, i later went and visited Marina (a woman who lost her only child in the school massacre) and her new family. She is now 'married' to Alan, who lost his wife in the terrorist attack (it's a sort of 'common law' marriage... not a legal one " “ such 'marriages' are quite common here). The Lord blessed us to have a nice visit, and it's so sad to know about much of the pain that these two families have gone through. As mentioned above, Marina lost her young daughter in that tragedy " “ her only child. Alan's wife (Irina) was in the gym with their 2 daughters for the three days of the terrorist attack; the daughters (Emilia '97, Milana '00) survived, but Irina didn't. (The following info is from an online news article i read - i think from The Washington Post, 8/25. On the final day of the 3-day hostage crisis, Irina and her two little daughters fled... younger Milana got out, but Irina " “ the mom - died. Russia 's Special Forces discovered Emilia nestled by Irina's body.) God blessed me to bring them the CD as well as several other small gifts. Alan listened to the CD and thanked me, and said it was good. May The Lord use this CD, and especially the last song on it, to remind them of Jesus' love and that The Lord has not forgotten them. The little girls Emilia and Milana are really sweet. Marina also was really amazed at my name being Alan, and said something like it being a sign that God sent me here. Met the grandfather, Alan's dad, who said i had 'Ossetian eyes' and thought my ancestors were probably from here. He said i'm 100% Ossetian, and he decided to call me Alan (by my middle name)! He also gave me a very warm and open invitation " “ stop by any time, and i can sleep there, like my own home; he wanted me to stay that night. The girls overall seemed quiet but appeared to like me, Emilia even more so. Told her i'd show her my laptop's photos the next time i visit. When i left, Marina paid for the taxi. Thank You, and bless her, O Yah!
Tuesday, 9/19/06 " “ Had an early lunch with Jambul's parents (his father arrived in Bsln this morning). Went and talked with Babushka, Zalina, and Valya (a family here that's helped me so many different times) about finding an apartment. Toma (a neighbor of theirs and sister in our church) was talking about forgiving an enemy and how difficult it was, and The Lord blessed me to share the verse in Luke about 'those forgiven more love more.' And also that though we don't have the ability, when we pray for our enemies, God changes our heart. The Lord also blessed me to share with Valya... she still has strange concepts about God. She thinks we should pray straight to The Father " “ that Jesus isn't necessary. She also questions the validity of The Bible; iÃ‚ replied that either all of The Bible is true, or we should just toss it out altogether. She said, 'Let's say for example that The Bible isn't true,' and then she went on to share a belief that their Saint George might have been one of the two-thirds who stuck with God, but that all the people on the earth were the one-third who rebelled with Satan against God. The Lord gave me the wisdom to quickly point out the big fallacy behind that 'possibility:' i asked her where her knowledge/belief about the 1/3 came from. I told her, 'If you're saying as an example that The Bible isn't true, your whole belief is nonsense, because you got your understanding of the 1/3 from The Bible!' Valya laughed, and realized she was caught in an impossible position to defend. Later went and taught English to Madina (who lost her younger brother in the massacre) " “ had a nice visit with her and her mom. After, i went to drop off the umbrella at Mairbek's, and to see if i could help Kristina with her laptop. (Both Mairbek and Kristina survived the terrorist attack, but Mairbek's mom was killed in that tragedy.) Visited with their family for a good while. Mostly hung out with Mairbek, and it was evident how much he wanted me to stay longer. After i left, he called out to me and hung out their window - they live on the first floor, don't worry! He wanted me to sign my name a few more times, and write it in English. I did, and also wrote, 'Jesus loves you,' in Ossetian, and told him not to forget that. Just as when i lived above his apartment last year, we exchanged numerous goodbyes as i walked away. I'm often amazed at all the living miracles God has blessed me to meet and know here; the precious survivors are everywhere. Little Mairbek is just such a one. A young boy so energetic and full of life... it's like now, i couldn't imagine not knowing him. But so many families now daily live with a much deeper realization that their children " “ normal little kids like Mairbek, ones who rode their bikes around outside their apartments and played soccer there as well " “ are now dead. And not simply dead, but killed in perhaps the most horrific way any parent could ever dare to imagine. I'm not trying to be morbid, i just hope that we never forget the reality of life this side of the school massacre for more than 330 families who lost their loved ones there. I just can't picture having had a lovable little child, whom i had to one day go to the morgue and identify, though the child was now missing their head. Nor could i imagine the terrible and revolting feeling of having claimed a wrong child's body and almost burying it " “ and then having had to take it back to the morgue, still wondering what happened to my child. This is not intended to be mereÃ‚ 'shock journalism' or something like that... this is simply a picture of the nightmarish memories which many families live with today, and will live with for the rest of their lives. Please pray for the people of Bsln!
Wednesday, 9/20/06 " “ Went out looking for an apartment... got a few leads, praise be to God. So Valico (Margiyev) and talked with him for a bit; he lost his only child/daughter, Elvira, in the massacre. Also saw Rozita (Bazrova) and we talked a little (she lost her daughter in the massacre); her son, Alikhan, is now in Vladikavkaz studying at some military facility. At the Post Office they said they can always give me a free copy of Bsln's newspaper... thank You, Yah! Went and bought more CDs and made copies of the disc The Lord blessed me to make. Zipha and Vova (two young adults in our fellowship) are getting married next Sunday (October 1 st). Wow! So close. On the way to visit Madina (Dzaparova) and Liza (Badoyeva), i heard a loud explosive sound, and then saw lots of thick grey smoke which ascended for a few minutes. Walked to see if i could find out what had happened, but the smoke quickly subsided, and no one else seemed very alarmed any more, so i headed back towards Madina and Liza's (two young girls who both survived the massacre). Liza was sick, so i visited with Madina, and her parents. Gave two of my CDs, and Zalina (her mom) told me about one of Madina's friends who also wants to study English; her friend's sister is Dariya, who lived in the US " “ and i read about on the internet. Praise be to God! I'm really looking forward to meeting her and her sister! Madina's dad drove me to the Mothers of Bsln to teach English to Susanna (who lost her son in the attack) and whoever else was there and wanted to study. Susanna (who's like the Committee's president) did very, very well. After a while, Rita (who lost her only child) and Sima (who lost a grandaughter) also came. Susanna gave me several of their phone numbers in case i ever need anything, and i gave them some copies of my CDs... Jesus, use these discs to bless them, testify of Your Name and Your salvation, and comfort their grief! All praise and thanks be to You for the opportunities You continually give!
Thursday, 9/21/06 " “ Went to net club; really frustrating getting it to work, but God was Gracious. Saw Soslan and Alla (Batagov) outside, and they asked me to visit. They lost their younger boy, Timur, in the tragedy. Went to teach Madina (Tsabolva, who lost her little brother in the massacre). I told her i had read the article she wrote last July about Marat, and that she wrote well. In it, she had said that they didn't tell Alana what happened " “ just that Marat's still at school; and she wrote that Alana still asks why he hasn't come, etc. I asked Madina if Alana knew yet, and she said, 'No " “ she's still waiting.' During my time there, Madina shared how there are times when no one understands her (Madina). Lord, give me the opportunity to share that You do! Afterwards went and visited Alina (Tsorayeva) and her family (Alina and her brother, Zaur, both survived the attack). Then went and visited a little with Aslan (Dzaparov) and his mom (Aslan and his brother, Soslan, also survived the massacre). I really wanted to visit another family, but Jambul and Marina had called me numerous times telling me the FSB (Russian FBI) had said i needed to be at their house at 8PM. I called Rita (who lost her only child in the attack) at the mother's committee and asked if she/they could call Larissa (at the Registration Office) and explain i was still looking for a place. Sima (who lost a grandaughter in the massacre)Ã‚ knows Larissa well, and called her. Before leaving for the city, i stopped at the committee, and asked them to write a short note saying they know who i am, and that i'm currently looking for an apartment; Rita wrote it for me, and then i left for Vladikavkaz. Caught a taxi to Jambul's house once i was in the city. Waited at their house for around 3 hours " “ no one from the FSB called, came, or anything. (Perhaps Sima's call made a big difference. Either way, praise God!) Afterwards, Jambul called Sasha to see if i could stay with him. He then called a taxi for me, and off i went. Had a good visit with Sasha.
Friday, 9/22/06 " “ Came back to Bsln, and saw one of the members from Sergei Totiev's church (Pastor Sergei lost 2 of his children in the attack). She told me that a grandmother who lives right next to the church has been looking for someone to live there and rent; the grandmother also lost a granddaughter in the school massacre. Tried to visit her (Nahzee), but she wasn't home. I saw Stas, the 24 year old brother at the church who lost his younger sister in the attack. He invited me to eat watermelon with him, and said i could wait there if i wanted to. Stas and another brother named Adam were building more at the church, and God blessed me to spend the day with them and help some. Jesus blessed Stas and i to have some deep/personal talks - please pray for him. I think he's a newer believer... he's a really nice guy who's trying to follow Jesus. One of the other brothers there and i were talking, and i said i'd be hear for 2 months. Adam said, 'He (jason) means 5 years and 2 months.' Nahzee still hadn't come home, and Stas took me home. I was sneezing and all through most of the day, and by the end of it, i felt really bad. Asked The Lord for healing, took medicine, and hit the hay.
Saturday, 9/23/06 " “ Shabbat day. Feeling much better, praise God. Went to see if Nahzee was home.She wasn't, so i just hung out some with Stas, Adam, Murat, and Sasha, who were working on the church building. They invited me to eat with them, and i also helped them a tiny bit afterwards. Also saw babushka Olga yesterday and today... she chided me for still not having visited her yet. Yikes!
Monday, 9/25/06 " “ Prayed very sincerely that God would allow me to visit Nahzee; He heard! I met her, and will be living here... at the whopping rate of less than $100 a month! (Bsln is incredibly cheap to live in.)Ã‚ Nahzee's a very dear older lady who lost her granddaughter, Sophia, in the terrorist attack. She showed me many photos of Sophia, and told me a lot about her. Sophia loved to sing, and sung in the youth service at the Baptist church her last Sunday here on earth. She would be about 16 now, had she lived; she came to Christ perhaps 6 years ago. Sophia lived here (in the house where i'm now staying) with her grandma, Nahzee, and went to School No. 1 (the school the terrorists attacked). Sophia's parents and her brother live in the country, but for whatever reason she lived here in Bsln. Nahzee, who lived alone except for her granddaughter being with her, said that Sophia was her everything. She (Nahzee) also has wrestled with many feelings of guilt over her granddaughter's death " “ her own family said that Sophia might not have died if she wouldn't have been living here with Nahzee. Nahzee mixes Russian and Ossetian, so it's difficult to understand her at times. But if i understood her correctly, here's yet another reason why she (and another mom) feels guilt. 'My daughter (Sophia's mom) thinks I'm guilty, because she called and told me not to let Sophia go to school earlier than 10AM. But her friend, Dzerassa, was ready, and they both looked so happy and well-dressed as they headed off to school, so I let her go. Dzerassa's mom made her (Dzerassa) leave the house. She (Dzerassa) didn't want to go to school that morning, but Byella (her mom) asked her what she was waiting for, and told her to get to school.' Could you imagine living with what Nahzee and Byella live with... thinking everyday about whether or not you are at least in some way to blame for the death of your daughter or granddaughter? God blessed me with the opportunity to tell Nahzee that i really believe He wanted me to communicate to her that she's not guilty. She didn't know what was going to happen that day, nor did Byella or any of the other parents who lost children there. Nahzee is a believer, and so is Byella " “ Byella and her husband Sergei, a Baptist pastor here in Bsln, lost two of their children in the massacre; Byella's sister-in-law (Raya) and her husband Taimuraz (also a Baptist pastor) lost four of their five children. I saw Madina, their only child that lived through the massacre, today. She's a sweet young girl, perhaps 14 years old or so, and usually smiles a lot when she sees me. Maybe it's just 'cos she gets a kick out of hearing my trying to speak Ossetian... either way, i don't care. To get a smile from that girl, a young believer who's lived and suffered through more than most of us could ever even imagine " “ it's like the world to me. To lose all of your siblings and two of your extremely close cousins in such a horrific way, not to mention all the mental anxiety and paralysis you yourself lived through as you suffered those three days in the gym; all i can say is - pray for young Madina. Ask God to bring the healing and comfort that only He can. There are no words to speak. And may God remind me every time i see that living miracle of the honor a girl like her deserves from me and the whole world. And even in saying that, i'm reminded of what her dad (Taimuraz) told me about a year and a half ago. After visiting with their family for the first time, i said that it was an honor for me to be there, and Taimuraz responded by saying: 'The only honor we'll have is to be with The Father.' And that profound truth spoken from a man who lost four of his five children. That, my friends, is faith. It's not hard to thank, bless, and praise God when things are going well for us. But to suffer such heartache, and such heartache that cannot be remedied save for the grace of God, and to still believe, and continue pastoring " “ that is faith.
Please pray for:
- The Lord's continual mercy for those who lost loved ones in the school massacre;
- People to surrender to Jesus;
- Strength, boldness, and favor in His eyes and the eyes of all;
- My registration to be finished and out of the way. I found a new place to live and all is fine, but trying to get
- Registration done is always, shall we say, an " ˜adventure.’ Please pray for God’s grace; the woman who
- Works there has one of those very " ˜different’ personalities, and is not the most reasonable lady. Simply put,
- There’s always some kind of problem. With God’s help, I hope to try again (& succeed!) tomorrow (Wednesday).
May The Lord again bless each of you who share in this amazing ministry " “ amazing because of The Amazing God that we serve. The prayers, the financial support, the emails " “ all work together and impact real people like those you've read about here. Thanks be to Yah for the wonderful blessing of being part of this service, and thanks to you guys for all your love and support!
Reminding you that His faithfulness is to every generation,
to everlasting is YHWH's lovingkindness...
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