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SBC funds assisting victims of Russian school massacre

MOSCOW (BP)–Southern Baptist relief funds are assisting victims’ families and survivors of the Sept. 3 terrorist massacre in Beslan, Russia.

The International Mission Board immediately released $5,000 from its general relief fund to help in the aftermath of the 53-hour standoff that took the lives of 326 hostages — half of them children. Two leaders of the Russian Baptist Union were able to use the funds to assist grieving families with burial expenses and other needs.

Russian security services said the terrorists who took over the school were Chechen rebels. Beslan is located in North Ossetia, a Russian Federation republic near Chechnya, where separatists have been fighting a bloody battle for independence from Russia.

Yuri Sipko, president of the Russian Baptist Union, and Nicholai Sobolov, an RBU regional vice president, spent hours counseling and praying with the families affected by the tragedy, said IMB missionary Ed Tarleton.

“I spoke with Yuri Sipko on his return to Moscow,” Tarleton reported, “and he said, ‘Please give our heartfelt thanks to your leaders, missionaries, friends and Southern Baptist churches for their prayers and financial assistance during this time. Your help during this crisis has been wonderful.'”

RBU Vice President Peter Mitskevitch flew to Beslan Sept. 6 to assess needs in the area, Tarleton said. Mitskevitch’s report will help Russian Baptists, Southern Baptist missionaries and other evangelical Christians to effectively minister in the area in coming weeks.

“The Russian Baptist Union quickly mobilized to reach out to the hundreds of people affected by this tragedy,” Tarleton said. “They are working with multiple agencies and helping all who are in need — not just to those within the church, but to those in the greater community at large.

“We will continue to work directly with the Russian Baptist Union in ministering to the people in Beslan.”

Individuals and churches interesting in contributing to a relief fund may send designated checks to Russian Children — General Relief, International Mission Board, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230.

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  • Mark Kelly