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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Holding on

Russian Lutherans near Chechnya's border face growing violence and declining numbers

As the two-hour Sunday service winds down, Teodor Reingart stands up and offers that week's church announcements.

"I wanted to warn you last week, but I'll do it today," says Reingart, who, at 64, is one of the youngest worshipers at the tiny congregation in Prokhladnyy, Russia. "There are kidnappers operating around here. A Baptist, with three children and a wife, left work the other night on his bicycle and never came home. Tell your families, especially the young men and women. They don't take the old. They want workers, slaves."

Reingart goes on to describe how another local man spent two and a half years working on a construction site at night and locked up in a cellar during the day. The man escaped once and made his way to local police, who promptly called his captors, telling them to "come pick up your man," he recounts.


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