Dagestan church lays their pastor to rest
Pastor Artur Suleimanov, a convert from Islam, had received death threats from Muslims. He was killed on July 15 outside his church.
07/26/2010 Russia (MNN)-Christians in Russia and around the world mourned the loss of Artur Suleimanov as he was laid to rest last week in Dagestan, republic in the Northern Caucus region of Russia .
On July 15, Suleimanov was gunned down while outside of Hosanna Church in Makhachkala , the church he led. He died a short time later from his injuries.
Russian Ministries reports that throughout his ministry he received threats from radical Muslims--he himself being a former Muslims and thus considered an apostate. In countries with high Muslim populations, apostates can be punished by death; Dagestan is 98 percent Muslim.
As officials investigate Suleimanov's death, though no one has been found responsible, they have not ruled out radicals as the attackers.
Not dwelling on his death, Suleimanov's congregation celebrates his life, recalling him as a "strong, supportive and positive leader."
Anita Deyneka of Russian Ministries told ASSIST News, "Under his leadership, the church ran a rehab center, developed an anti-drug campaign and a prison ministry. The church also had a café that was open to the community."
Now, as Suleimanov's congregation moves forward with ministry in this unstable region, pray for their strength, courage and unity. Pray that they will trust God for the unforeseen future and not succumb to fear. Pray for their continued witness in the mostly Muslim region. Also pray for Vladimir Chumakov, the assistant pastor, as he takes over the responsibilities of senior pastor.