After the Attack: Finding Open Doors to Share the Gospel in Beslan, Russia

Beslan is a small town where people seem to know something about nearly everyone. It’s a town where hospitality is treasured and where children walk the streets freely. Beslan is a town where cows can graze wherever they please. It’s a town where one can often hear the rooster crow.

Why did such tragedy happen here, of all places?

Last year, terrorists attacked one of the schools and held the people hostage for three days. In the end, more than three hundred people were killed, most of whom were children. Some were shot dead; others were killed when the ceiling collapsed in the building where they were being held. Now, more than a year later, so much hurt still remains. The besieged school is still standing and is easily seen throughout the community. Why the authorities still haven’t thoroughly cleaned the ruins is a mystery. When you walk through the school gym, where hundreds were held captive for three days, you will see many photos taped to the walls—photos of fathers, mothers and little girls.

By God’s grace, I’m serving here to help one of the churches in Beslan. I’m teaching English to believers and anyone who comes to the house where the church meets. I’m also teaching English to two young men who lost their brothers in the school massacre. Eighteen-year-old Zaur lost his 14-year-old brother Khasan in the terror attack. The very room in the family’s apartment where I teach him overlooks the school gym. There is still a bullet hole in the room’s wall. There are also numerous pictures of Khasan.

My other student is 15-year-old Khetag, who lost his younger brother Timor in the attack. Khetag has been through a lot. Occasionally, his mother seems to have completely forgotten about him. In Beslan, there is not only pain over the children who died, there is also the hurt of survivors who now feel unwanted and depressed. Many parents spend much of their time thinking and speaking about the children who perished. Through the church, we are sharing with the surviving children and families that many people are praying for them and that they’re not forgotten. They are all very thankful and many express that thankfulness by serving us food and tea. Ossetian hospitality is perhaps the best in the world.

The church here is small and very young in the Lord. Although I have tried to start Tuesday evening prayer (and Wednesday and Friday evening Bible reading times), so far just about no one has come. Well, unfortunately the same situation occurs in the West, doesn’t it? We all need prayer. If you have some extra time, please pray:

  • for the Lord’s church here in Beslan—for unity, love and growth;
  • for Zaur, Khetag and their families;
  • for the Totiev families—Taimuraz and Raya, and Sergei and Bella. Taimuraz and Sergei are Baptist pastors. Taimuraz and Raya lost four children in the attack; Sergei and Bella lost two. They are true examples of faith (modern day “Jobs”);
  • that God will continue to help me understand Russian and Ossetian—the two languages spoken here; and
  • that our Father will glorify his Son Jesus Christ in all that I say and do.

Thank you so much, and all the glory be to YHWH!

Jason Catizone is a missionary in Beslan, Russia. He is helping to plant the first Calvary Church in the area. He can be contacted at [email protected].