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Volgograd Central Train Station was attacked by a suicide bomber on the 29th of December, 2013, killing 16 and injuring 50. One Radstock member shares some thoughts following his recent visit.
At the time of my visit, it had been less than a month since the twin suicide attacks on the central train station. But even then, many of the vital signs were of a city quietly getting on with life.
There were armed police on the road coming in, and the station building, which took the full force of the first blast, appeared closed. Yet, apart from that, there was little outward sign of panic or tension. Public transport was running, and passenger numbers appeared to have recovered following the drop-off after the attacks. Shops, banks and businesses were open.
Volgograd, formerly Stalingrad, falls into the long historical narrative of the suffering Russian soul, and this more than anything explains the subdued yet determined response to the latest outrage. This, of course, is Russia, and the tragedy is being faced with the same stoic fatalism that has characterised this country down the centuries.
Indeed, Volgograd is no stranger to tragedy. In October, a bus was targeted by a ‘black widow’ suicide bomber, in an attack that killed 6, but attracted little outside attention.
The explosions here in January provide a savage reminder that we are in a kingdom-now-and-not-yet period. Some of Radstock’s network churches face this brutal reality every day. What a joy, then, to remember that the family prayer which Jesus taught in Luke 11 is a prayer of relationship. Relationship, shalom, amid all the brokenness and hatred.
I met with a team who are seeking to share God’s love in the north of the city. As they reach out to their neighbours, they are inevitably facing the questions that arise from such atrocities, such as ‘Why?’ For one girl, it was personal: her friend died in one of the blasts. Pray for these believers as they work to develop an effective response, and come alongside those who have suffered loss or injury.