2024 Day of the Christian Martyr

On January 12, 2004, Pastor Sergei Bessarab was shot and killed after planting a church in a Central Asian city where there were over 100 mosques, but no Christian presence.

Sergei Bessarab
Killed January 12, 2004

Five years before his death, Sergei Bessarab had gone to prison five times, but not for his faith in Christ. Sergei Bessarab was a leader in the organized crime underworld in Central Asia. A fellow prisoner shared the gospel with him and eventually Sergei surrendered his life to the Lord!


After being released from prison, Sergei and his wife Tamara felt called to gospel ministry and began preaching around Central Asia, before settling on a particular city to plant a church in.  This city had over 100 mosques, but no Christian presence.


Sergei faithfully preached the gospel, and God grew the church to almost 60 people, but some in the city were not happy with Pastor Sergei’s faithful witness.


On January 12, 2004  after returning from a prayer meeting, Pastor Sergei came into his house and stopped by a window. Suddenly shots rang out and he fell dead, having been shot at point blank range. This was less than a year after Sergei and Tamara moved to town.


Almost immediately, Tamara began to see fruit from Sergei’s life and death.


During Sergei’s funeral,” said Tamara, “my son gave his life to Christ. The fact that Sergei was always ready to sacrifice life for his faith, and eventually did that, showed my son that faith in Christ is worth our firm stance, even under the threat of death.”


Many feared that after Pastor Sergei’s death, the fellowship of believers would fall apart. On the contrary, his death filled the church and it became a living witness of God’s faithfulness.

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