By Jason Catizone, Special to ASSIST News Service
BESLAN, NORTH OSSETIA, RUSSIAN FEDERATION (ANS – August 28, 2017) — When she was just 9-years-old, Laima Tochinova was held hostage in her school’s gymnasium by terrorists for three days in September of 2004.
More than 1,100 men, women, and children were held hostage during the Beslan terrorist attack, and more than 330 people — mostly children — lost their lives. Miraculously, Laima was one of those who survived.
But as a child trying to deal with the horror of what she experienced, after the terrorist attack Laima would draw pictures of the terrorists, and then light them on fire — in an attempt to try and get vengeance upon them for how they had hurt so many children.
Laima is now 22 years old, and is studying in the medical field. When I visited her again last fall, she told me that she wants to help people, and feels that – having survived the terrorist attack — she was saved to become or do something. Externally, Laima said her health is fine, but that she has some problems internally. And yet, as she shares in this writing, she refuses to give up living.
Laima is an inspiration to me, and I’m grateful to The Lord for His hearing the prayers that I and my friends have prayed for her and the people of Beslan over the years. It is beautiful to see her progress and growth!
If you would like to share any words, thoughts, or well wishes with Laima, please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Now here is what she has written:
“Why should I live?”
By Laima Torchinova
The terrible event that occurred in my city changed the destinies of very many people: some broke down, some lost the sense of living, and some stopped believing in God. But I have a totally different experience…
Finding a cross under my feet in the gym, I immediately felt His Presence: knowing that the Almighty is with me — He will help me.
Life was divided into Before, and After. And I can say with certainty that what happened to me opened my eyes. Life is the very best thing that could happen to us! It is so sad that a person needs to be a hair’s breadth from death in order to understand why they live.
I often see people who fall into depression because of every little thing… people who want to end their lives by suicide. I so want to go up to them, shake them by the shoulders, take them to the “City of Angels” (this is the name of the Beslan cemetery in which most of the victims were buried), and say: “That’s what universal grief means, for which people are shedding tears for the second decade! Everything else is nothing; dust!”
I am grateful to the Lord for saving my life.
I’m grateful for the fact that above my head, there is a peaceful sky — and that in my glass, there is always cold water. (Many of us hostages were dying of thirst as the terrorists refused to give us water.)
The exclamation mark in the sentence, “Never give up living!” is something I already put there a long time ago.
Editor’s Note: The Beslan school siege started on September 1, 2004, lasted three days, involved the illegal imprisonment of over 1,100 people as hostages (including 777 children), and ended with the death of a large number of people. The crisis began when a group of armed Islamic Groups, mostly Ingush and Chechen, occupied School Number One (SNO) in the town of Beslan, North Ossetia (an autonomous republic in the North Caucasus region of the Russian Federation). The hostage-takers were the Riyadus-Salikhin Battalion, sent by the Chechen warlord Shamil Basayev, who demanded recognition of the independence of Chechnya, and Russian withdrawal from Chechnya. On the third day of the standoff, Russian security forces stormed the building with the use of tanks, incendiary rockets and other heavy weapons. At least 330 hostages were killed, including 186 children, with a significant number of people injured and reported missing.
Photo captions: 1) Agony on the face on a boy rescued from terror attack. 2) A woman stands at the “City of Angels” memorial cemetery in Beslan, the final resting place for the victims of the terrorist attack at Beslan’s School No.1. (Photo: CFP). 3) Jason with Laima in 2007. 4) A woman brings flowers at a memorial in School No.1 to mourn the victims of the 2004 Beslan school siege. (Photo: CFP). 5) Jason with Laima last year.
About the writer: Born and raised in Pittsburgh, PA, Jason Catizone received Jesus at the age of fourteen. The Lord has blessed him to serve in music outreach, refugee assistance, and post-terrorism ministry. Jason says that his heart is to glorify Jesus and share the love of God, both domestically and abroad. He is currently engaged in an original recording project to help share God’s love with terrorist victims through song, and he can be contacted at: email@example.com.
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