Georgia Conflict Erupts
Ed. Note: Scott and Barbara Schneider, lay Salvationists from Greeley, Colo., have been serving in Tiblisi, Republic of Georgia, since October 1997. No strangers to Georgia, they previously worked with a Christian school in Tiblisi while attending The Salvation Army there. The following account is from a report they filed with the government.
On Saturday, December 13, a young man who works with us, David Darchiashvili, was confronted in the courtyard of our home by a group of men who told him the Army had no right to be in Georgia. David was threatened with bodily harm and told that he would be beat up the next time they saw him alone.
The next day we began our first church meeting inside the cinema building. Some of these men entered our building, came to the front of the service and began yelling at us. Soon more men came and tensions rose. They continued to yell, push Scott and the others from The Salvation Army and tell us we had to leave the building and leave Georgia, and that we could not wear our uniforms or continue the work of the Army in Georgia.
We told them that we had a legal right to be in that building and in Georgia, and the men told us that they didn’t care about the law and would do what they wanted. Scott sent David to get the police but some men prevented him from leaving. The confrontation lasted two hours, and then Scott told them he would leave after they did. Everyone came outside and we walked to our home with the other Georgian Salvation Army members.
The men continued to threaten us. At one point, Captain Alstair Bate, from The Salvation Army Training School in Finland, got out of the car with a camera around his neck. The men demanded to be given the camera. Bate refused and managed to keep his camera and get back in the car.
We called the police, but they did not arrive for 45 minutes. One plain clothed policeman finally arrived and talked to Captain Nesterenko, the head of The Salvation Army in Georgia. Captain Nesterenko and the policeman agreed to meet at The Salvation Army office this coming week and discuss the problem. The confrontation then abated and we left for our next church service at Didi Digomi.
Footnote: “God has blessed and encouraged us,” says Barb. “After leaving this riot in Digomi we went to our church in Didi Digomi and had 32 people in attendance. The first two months of work in Didi Digomi were also met with a lot of opposition, but just in the last two weeks we have seen some great changes. We started a Home League last Tuesday and had 15 women and one husband attend. Afterwards, several of the ladies went home and got their children to bring them to the Bible Club. Some of the women, the husband and their kids came to church this Sunday. “