At the end of September, Gennady Terkun, Russian Ministries’ national ministry director in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, Pavel Tokarchuk, administrative director of the organization’s Moscow office, and Alexander Plukchi, School Without Walls coordinator in Vladikavkaz, traveled to Tskhinvali, the capital city of South Ossetia to deliver humanitarian aid.
“These ethnic areas of North and South Ossetia and other regions of the Northern Caucasus have been trapped in territorial disputes for years,” noted Sergey Rakhuba, senior vice-president of Russian Ministries, “which flared again the early 1990s. However, they enjoyed comparatively peaceful times until a couple of years ago.”
Christians in America, who wanted to reach out to help the refugees and others who suffered through the horrors of war, fueled this mercy mission.
As the three men drove into the city, charred cars and fallen trees littered the road. In the city itself, very few houses, if any, were left unscathed in the attack.
“Many house were destroyed beyond repair,” observed Terkun. “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.”
Working with local believers in the city, the purpose of this trip to Tskhinvali was to deliver a second round of backpacks and children’s Bibles in the public schools. The backpacks were filled with schools supplies, warm blankets and clothing and other aid. The team also gave away hundreds of Russian Bibles to anyone who wanted them.
At each school they visited, the students and staff greeted them with joy and traditional Ossetian hospitality. But Terkun noted that 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.”
Terkun and Tokarchuk are sadly familiar with the violence and tragedy that frequently rocks the Northern Caucasus. Both men helped bring in relief and other aid to the nearby community of Beslan during its recovery from the violent and senseless school tragedy in September 2004.