Comforting Those Who Mourn

Comforting Those Who Mourn - September 2008

September 3rd, 2004 " “ Four years ago to this very day, the three-day Beslan hostage crisis finally came to an "end."  An end to their captivity" ¦ an end to their thirst" ¦ and for more than 330 and of them " “ an end to their very lives. Shortly after 1PM on September 3rd, 2004, two explosions rocked the gym and brought on the storm by the Russian forces. As previously mentioned, there is great controversy regarding who is responsible for the initial two explosions which preceded the storm. But in having lived there in Beslan for about a year and a half, having talked with the families there, and having read several articles and lots of information regarding this issue, it appears very likely that those two explosions were not caused by the terrorists. And I would say that the vast majority in Beslan is " “ to say the least " “ highly critical of the Russian government"s actions and post-siege explanations. First off, they saw Russia"s response to the theater which was seized by Chechnyan terrorists in Moscow several years back; Russia pumped in gas so as to render the terrorists unconscious, but they wound up using deadly amounts, and most of the hostages died as a result of the gas, not from the terrorists. The following site has the official list of the hostages who died as a result of that terrorist attack; 5 people were killed by the terrorists, but 125 died as a result of the Russian Special Forces" gas! This is why all during the Beslan hostage crisis, the thing that the people perhaps feared most was the Russian military storming the school in an attempt to save the hostages. And I would say that that’s exactly what happened. Why? Well, because the timing of the initial two explosions seems to be far too coincidental. The terrorists had agreed to let a Russian Emergency vehicle pull up to remove the dead men that the terrorists had killed on the first day and dumped out a second story window. The vehicle pulled up to the said location, which was on the other side of the school. At that exact time, on the other end of the school where the gym is, two explosions ring out. Now, was the timing purely coincidental? I don’t believe so. With the Russian Emergency vehicle on the other side of the school, that obviously required more direct attention from the terrorists - in order to ensure that none of those workers tried rushing into the school, shooting at them, and so forth. So at the same time that the terrorists were distracted in order to make sure the Russian Emergency workers didn’t have any tricks up their sleeves, two huge explosions rocked the gym on the other side of the school. Mass chaos broke out, and everything went from bad to worse. Another very " ˜coincidental’ aspect to the timing of the explosions is that Russian helicopters reportedly appeared within minutes and entered into the war. Two very interesting articles to read can be found at: and

God Alone knows the full details about everything that happened in the Beslan terrorist attack. The reason I bring up these things is to show that the people have Beslan have very good reasons for not trusting the Russian government’s version of what happened. And this only adds to their pain of having lost their children in the terrorist attack. I understand that rumors and conspiracy-theories exist in our world today" ¦ but I also understand that you can’t just write off all questions as being based on wild-eyed conspiracies. Factually, the Russian government has a bad track record in dealing with hostage crises, they lied about the number of hostages in Beslan’s gym, they lied about having used flame throwers, and surviving hostages in Beslan who have spoken against the government’s version have been paid " ˜visits’ by people who were not simply dropping by as guests. Some people think that reporting these things is futile, arguing that nothing will bring the children back, and those who investigate these things are simply " ˜out for blood.’ I disagree. It’s obviously true that nothing will bring the dead children back to life again. But when I put myself into the shoes of one of the fathers there, I too " “ even as a believer " “ would want to find out the truth of what happened, and to see those guilty (in addition to the terrorists) brought to justice. And so would any loving parent, Christian or not. For, as many there see it, until they know the truth about what happened at Beslan, they have no peace or confidence that their surviving children are any safer than the ones who died.

Please take a moment and go to the following link " “ these are the (non-graphic) photos of the people who were killed as a result of the Beslan terrorist attack" ¦ little boys and girls, moms and dads, elderly grandmothers" ¦ And if you go to this link, you can see a map of where Beslan is in Russia " “ just keep clicking on the small map in order to enlarge it:

For the families of Beslan, September 1-3 are incredibly hard days to live through year by year. But understandably, the pain doesn’t end on September 4th. Time does indeed help heal some wounds, but some wounds " “ this side of eternity " “ will never go away. Those who lost high-school children never got to see them graduate and enter college, and it can be very painful for them to see their deceased children’s friends going on to higher education. The parents will be quick to applaud the surviving youth, and they truly are very happy for them; but they feel great pain in realizing that for their own children, there will be no college, no marriage, no grandchildren, no nothing.

One of the things the terrorists taunted the hostages with during the tragedy was that they (the hostages) weren’t needed by anyone. The terrorists knew that the Russian media was purposely lying about the number of hostages in the gym, and they used that to tell the people how they weren’t needed at all. " ˜Nobody needs you - no one cares about you.’ And that’s why, with the help of God, even from so far away as Pittsburgh, I/we cannot just forget about the people of Beslan! We must keep reaching out to them, reminding them that they are loved, remembered, and prayed for! The following is from one of my updates from Beslan, from May of last year, and it totally illustrates how remembering them means so very much to them. I visited with a mom whose own mother was among the hostages, but survived.

" ˜I talked a tad with this mom (I think her name’s Anzhela), and as the little kids and I were heading outside to play, she in the meantime listened to the FARN CD I brought and gave to them. (This is the CD that The Lord blessed me to do in the Ossetian language, and it’s basically a short worship CD.) When I went back to the house, this mom said that she really liked the CD, and the message. She started telling me how much it meant to her that someone from across the ocean, from America, would come there. Her eyes welled up, and they were full of tears. She mentioned about how much it meant to know that you were needed by someone, and that a foreigner would come to such a small place, and speak her own language with her" ¦ ‚   it was one of the rare times I’ve ever seen someone so openly thankful and moved by my being there. I spoke about how Jesus has changed me, and the glory is to Him. The Lord opened up a great time of sharing and witnessing to her.’

And thus, I implore you to continue praying for the people of Beslan, and I remind you that it’s still very possible to write to them, to send toys to the kids, or whatever else The Lord might place upon your heart to do.

And to close this update, please let me share about the phone call I made today. Today’s phone call was a celebration of sorts. You see, many people died on September 3rd, and thus this is still a day of mourning and sorrow. But many others also escaped to freedom on that day, and so for them, it is also a day of celebrating a new chance at life. Aslan, now 18, was one of the hostages during the Beslan terrorist attack along with his younger brother, Soslan. By God’s grace, they were both blessed to escape and survive that nightmare. And not only did they gain their freedom on that day, but even more " “ Aslan received the best birthday present yet on that day. September 3rd is Aslan’s birthday, and so I called him today to wish him a happy 18th birthday. He just started college a few days ago, and has a bright future ahead of him. Both he and his mom, Toma, were so very happy that I had called. Toma was so happy I had remembered, and she laughed as I spoke some Ossetian with her (it’s very funny for them to hear an American speaking their ethnic language with them since they are such a tiny ethnic group in this huge world). And Aslan was really happy too, as was I. It was great to call a friend and wish them Happy Birthday on the very day they were born" ¦ born two times, so to speak. My prayer is that Aslan will also have a third birthday to celebrate someday, and that being when he puts his faith in Jesus Christ and becomes born again. But for Aslan, it will not be his second birth " “ it will be his third.

Jesus never fails,

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"As for me, I know that my Redeemer lives" 
(Job 19:25, NASB)