From Revenge to Redemption

Once again, a team of energetic young Next Generation Christians from Vladikavkaz will pass through checkpoints, unload and reload vans for security checks, then finally arrive in Grozny to hold an evangelistic summer camp for children in this war-weary capital city of Chechnya.

Among this year’s team is a young man named Mayerbek Kusov. For Mayerbek, this trip to Chechnya represents much more than a week of summer camp. It is a chance to bury the ghost of revenge and embrace a one-time sworn enemy.

“I am a Christian now,” says Mayerbek, but he wasn’t in September 2004, when Chechen Muslim terrorists attacked School No. 1 in Beslan, Russia, and killed over 300 people, many of them children, during the three-day siege.

Mayerbek’s youngest sister Fatima was killed as were some of his friends. “For the longest time, we wanted revenge,” recalls Mayerbek. “This is part of our tradition, a sort of law—blood should be repaid with enemy’s blood. Then something happened to me.”

Some of Mayerbek’s friends invited him to a concert and discussion at the youth ministry center Russian Ministries opened in Beslan after the school tragedy. Mayerbek knew what to expect, because he had attended a summer camp the Beslan ministry center and the church in Vladikavkaz—where Gennady Terkun is pastor—had organized.

But Mayerbek was unprepared for what Marina and Allan, two young Next Generation Christian leaders, were planning to do—to go to Chechnya to help people who had suffered from the ongoing war in that region.

“I was stunned as they told us that forgiving one’s enemies was a lot more difficult, but more noble than taking revenge, and living only to make plans on how to repay enemies with the same evil,” explains Mayerbek.

Marina and Allan pointed out that a person could forgive his enemies when he followed Jesus. This initial discussion led to more visits and more in-depth conversations, and the day finally came when Mayerbek surrendered to God.

“My Christian friends did go on a mission to Chechnya, but it was not the mission my other friends and I always planned for—a mission to kill Chechen children since they killed children in our school. This was a different mission,” says Mayerbek.

The group had organized an evangelistic summer camp for children in Chechnya.

“At first Chechen children and their parents were suspicious because they thought that the Christian youth from Beslan came to do evil to them. But after several days of camp, everyone was amazed that, instead of bringing evil, they shared love and kindness with them,” Mayerbek describes the impact the camp had.

This summer, as Mayerbek travels to Grozny, gone is his need for revenge and in its place is a desire to share Jesus’ love with the children of Chechnya. “God’s love is powerful! His love is more powerful than evil!” declares Mayerbek.

One Child + One Week of Summer Camp = One Changed Life

It’s a simple equation that has eternal results for campers and for counselors alike.

You can stand behind young Next Generation Christians like Mayerbek as they share God’s love with thousands of children and young people at Russian Ministries’ evangelistic summer camps.

We especially ask for your prayers and financial support of the 2008 summer evangelistic camps. In Russia, Ukraine and Moldova, the cost of living has risen 25-30% and the dollar is dropping in value.

Additional funds are still needed in order not to cut back on the number of children who can come to these life-changing camps.

A gift of $50 will send one child to camp and provide one Bible, a gift of $100 will send two children to camp and provide two Bibles, and a gift of $150 will send three children to camp and provide three Bibles.

To make a secure online gift to summer camps, click here.