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CBN.com Islamic terrorists took over School Number One and killed hundreds, including many children when they tried to escape.
Now, some of the survivors are telling their stories. They say it was their Christian faith that got them through.
A lady in black said, "I feel horrible, like our home is a big crematorium. This horror doesn't pass." A man with a mustache said, "It's sad. There is no joy in Beslan. All the joy ended on the first of September."
The vicious attack on Beslan School Number One redefined the concept of terror. For three days, the world watched in horror as masked gunmen held more than one thousand students, teachers and family members hostage in this small south Russian city. The bloody end of the siege defied the worst imagination. There were 338 dead, hundreds more hospitalized, and nearly 200 missing or unaccounted for.
Misha Kozrev is a grandfather. He told us, "On my soul there is such a weight. I cannot sleep day or night. I think "Who needed to do that?" These children suffered. They went to school with flowers, and were joyful. The teachers were waiting for them. But armed people were waiting for them too. You cannot bear that. No nation can -- nowhere."
When Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev said he pulled the attack, and called it "a successful militant operation", he was only confirming what everyone in Beslan already knew: extremist Muslim Chechens had exported their jihad to the neighboring republic of Ossetia.
Young Larissa is a surviving hostage. She explained, "They said to us that they don't believe in our God. That you need to pray to Allah. Only Allah can help and protect us."
Both Larissa and her brother Soslan are surviving hostages. It was made very clear to them who had taken them captive. Larissa went on, "They were saying 'Your parents, your brothers, kill our children and destroy our homes. We don't feel pity on you.'"
She added, "They tried to poison us toward each other, saying that our soldiers won't help us and even our God won't help us."
But today a crucifix hangs in the ruins of the school gymnasium where most of the hostages were held. It is a silent reminder of the faith that is helping the Beslan community cope with their grief and loss.
Eteri Kaprova is a Russian woman. She said, "Our trust is in the Lord. No one else. Humans cannot comfort other humans. Words are just words. But the Word of God is a comfort for people. Even those who are in such mourning. Only God can give peace and rest in the heart."
A small Baptist church, just blocks away from the school, was particularly devastated by the tragedy. The pastor lost four of his five children. The children's Sunday school and youth group lost more than half of its members.
The youth group included 9-year-old Arthur Dzioeve, son of church members Achar and Irina Dziove. Irina was held hostage with her two boys. Achar was able to rescue his two daughters as terrorist bullets riddled their family car. Embracing his only remaining son, Mark, he vividly recalls every moment of horror and how he reacted.
Achar said, "I prayed, I just prayed. I saw all this fear. How they were murdering. How the terrorists entered. I saw it all."
Irina told us, "I wasn't afraid for myself, but I was afraid for my children. Everyone was running in fear. When they took us to the gym, I understood that without God we would not get out of there. I told the children "Pray, Jesus will help us."
On the surface at least, their 7-year-old son Mark still seems to be amazingly normal. He even volunteered to lead our Russian producer and camera crew on a tour of the devastated school building.
Mark explained, "Mom was praying that they would let us go. And I was praying and so was my brother, Arthur. He said, 'Jesus please make them set us free'."
German Djeriev commented with admiration, "These children were the 'heroes of faith' because they were praying. They were praying and non-believers heard them, and the adults heard too. Their prayers were the encouragement and support for everyone."
For awhile, Deacon Djeriev is leading this Baptist congregation while the pastor and other parents mourn their losses. In the initial days following the attack, over 250 funerals were held in a three block area surrounding the church.
Djeriev explained to us, "God is with them -- and of course, brothers and sisters who pray for them. If not for this prayer, if not for the support from the whole world, this sorrow would be very difficult to bear. It's very hard to experience that. But our hope and our trust is in Jesus Christ."
Peter Lunichkin is Director of the North Ossetia Mission of Christian Mercy. His organization has been mobilizing regional Christians to support the devastated Beslan community.
"Churches responded to this tragedy, to this pain," said Lunichkin. "Many churches of North Ossetia collected offerings for believers. It is just our 'first response' because believers have suffered -- even those you've grown up with. I found that children of my friends have died."
Lunichkin went on, "There are people who pray, asking God that war would stop in the whole world. But we understand that this is not real. Because the Bible says in the last times people will hate each other."
He added, "We ask Christians in America to pray. So that people who live here who profess Islam, would come to Christ."
Lunichkin summarized, "I think this tragedy, this pain, this terrorist act, was committed only because, people who did it, don't know God."
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