Christian Missionaries Bring Bibles, Aid To South Ossetia

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

By BosNewsLife News Center in Budapest

TBILISI/BUDAPEST (BosNewsLife) -- Christian missionaries said Tuesday, October 21, they have managed to distribute Russian Bibles and humanitarian aid in Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, which was devastated by two months of war between Russian and Georgian forces.

Russian Ministries, a major mission group working in the former Soviet Union, told BosNewsLife that it delivered children's Bibles to public schools in Tskhinvali, South Ossetia's capital. In addition, backpacks filled with schools supplies, warm blankets and clothing and other aid," was distributed, the group said. “The team also gave away hundreds of Russian Bibles to anyone who wanted them.”

Christian missionaries said charred cars and fallen trees still litter roads from fighting in South Ossetia, from where tens of thousands of people fled. In the city itself, very few houses, if any, were left unscathed in the attack, Russian Ministries said. There have also been reports that several evangelical churches were destroyed.

"Many house were destroyed beyond repair," observed Gennady Terkun, Russian Ministries' national ministry director in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia. "But life continues. We saw an old man driving his herd of goats, and an old woman pushing a gas cylinder to her house so she could cook."


He was accompanied by two other Russian Ministries representatives and other volunteers from a church in Vladikavkaz who traveled to Tskhinvali. "Now, two months removed from the initial onslaught of the Russian-Georgian conflict, the people of South Ossetia are determined to rebuild their lives--even when peacekeeping efforts are interrupted with gunfire and explosions," Russian Ministries said.

News of the deliveries came as Russia's top general said Tuesday, October 21, it will establish permanent military bases in the Georgian separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abhazia next year. "I think it will take us at least a year to set up these bases so that they fully meet our aims," General Nikolai Makarov told the Interfax news agency. Moscow had previously said it would station 3,800 troops in each.

Terkun said that at each school they visited, students and staff greeted them with joy and "traditional Ossetian hospitality,” but he noted the joy was “tempered” by the late summer war. "We still saw its [the war] signs in the children's eyes--the anguish and horror. Some of them had to run through heavy gunfire and others lost their homes, their fathers and mothers . . . and by some miracle they survived."

However, "We hope the Bibles we gave out will be a source of comfort for them, and may they find the living God, who alone can make up for any loss and fill a grieving heart with joy," Terkun added.

He and other Russian Ministries workers also delivered humanitarian aid in 2004 to the Russian town of Beslan, where Islamist fighters seized more than 1,000 people in a school, triggering a three-day siege that ended in a furious exchange of fire in which 333 hostages were killed. Half of those killed were children. (MISSION WATCH is BosNewsLife's regular look at key mission developments and missionary workers in difficult areas of the world).

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