For many years I have had the dream of visiting Beslan, as I had heard much about the culture and the hospitality of the people. But most of all, I wanted to personally meet some of the men, women, and children who miraculously survived the terrorist attack on School Number One in 2004. This past summer God gave me the chance to fulfill my dream.
After working in camps in Siberia and Estonia, I traveled to Beslan to work in a week-long camp for children. The children were all very different—some were older, while others were very young. Some were very active and obedient, while others were not. But almost all of them did have something in common: they had survived the attack on their school and had been forced to live with the consequences and trauma that had been a result of the attack.
I was chosen to be the counselor for the oldest group, the “children” who fell into the 16-20 age category. It was difficult to organize and interest them, as many of their interests did not always match those of our camp program. One of the camp rules was that each camper was required to attend the daily Bible lessons. While they never skipped any lessons, it was easy to see that they weren’t all that interested. All I had to do was look at their faces to get the feeling that having them attend the Bible lessons was a waste of time. Disinterest and drowsiness were always in attendance at these lessons. I was hurt by the fact that it seemed that the Word of God was not penetrating their hearts. I did not see any interest or desire in them to change their lives around.
I enjoyed my trip and the people I met in Beslan, and after camp I returned home with many new memories, as well as new friends to pray for. Upon arriving at home and beginning to correspond with the campers by means of the internet, I finally began to understand that the time we had spent with them had not been wasted after all. Some of the boys and girls that I had least expected it from wrote to tell me of their desire for a different way of life. And when I asked them where and when this desire had sprouted, they told me that it had been planted during those Bible lessons!
At that moment I felt such a warmth flood through me, and I realized that no work that is done in honor of God is done in vain. God’s Word is alive and it still has the power to touch the hearts of people.
I would like to close with a need. There is a desire to organize a Sunday school for these children, but there are currently no volunteers to help organize such a school. Please pray that volunteers would be found, and also for the continuing work being done in Beslan and among the Ossetian people.