Pray for Kazakhstan

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Kazakh of Kazakhstan
Population: 7,801,000
Language: Kazakh
Religion: Islam
Evangelical: 0.36%

The Kazakh, a Turkic people, are the second largest Muslim people group of Central Asia. In times past, they may have been the most influential of the various Central Asian ethnic groups. While most of the Kazakh now live in Kazakhstan, they make up only about 40% of the country’s population. Large communities can also be found in Mongolia, Ukraine, and Russia.

The Kazakh developed a distinct ethnic identity in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. Several of their clans formed a federation that would provide mutual protection. As other clans joined the federation, its political influence began to take on an ethnic character. During the nineteenth century, the Russians acquired Central Asia through a steady process of annexation. They eventually claimed the entire territory of Kazakhstan. Tragically, about half of the Kazakh population was killed during the Russian Civil War of the 1920’s and 1930’s. During this time, many fled to China and Mongolia.



What Are Their Lives Like?
Since the collapse of Soviet Communism, the Kazakh have been searching for their identity. Traditionally, they were nomadic shepherds; however, under Soviet rule, much of their land was seized and used for collective farming. As industry developed, their economy and culture became dependent entirely on the Russians. Today, however, there is a widespread movement to redevelop their own cultural identity.

As nomadic shepherds, the Kazakh lived in dome shaped felt tents called yurts. These portable dwellings could be taken down and moved from area to area as the shepherd found good land for his flocks. Under Russian rule, many other Kazakhs were forced to move to the cities and live in houses or small apartments. Most of these two or three room apartments have running water, though in some rural areas there is no hot water. The water is clean, but not safe to drink. The process of purifying the water can be very tedious.

The Kazakh eat a variety of meat and dairy products. A popular Kazakh food is besbarmak, which is eaten with your hands. It is made of noodles, potatoes, onions, and mutton. Rice and bread are common staples. In the southern regions of Kazakhstan, fruit and vegetables grow in abundance. There the people enjoy eating grapes, melons, and tomatoes. Kazakh apples are also famous throughout Central Asia.

The foundation of the Kazakh culture is hospitality, which always starts with a cup of tea. The host offers tea to any person who comes to his house. Guests must accept the kindness, or the host will be offended.

A favorite sport is kokpar which means “fighting for a goat’s carcass.” Up to 1000 horseman will participate in this sport.



What Are Their Beliefs?
The Kazakhs embraced Islam during the sixteenth century and still consider themselves Muslim today. Changes in Kazakh society (mainly from a nomadic to a settled lifestyle) and an attempt by the Soviets to suppress religious freedoms have led the people to adopt Islam more closely. However, their Islamic practices have been combined with traditional folk religions.

Traditional Kazakh folk religion includes beliefs in spirits. They practice animism and ancestor worship. Animism is the belief that non-human objects have spirits. Ancestor worship involves praying and offering sacrifices to deceased ancestors. Today, the Kazakh continue to consult shamans (priests who cure the sick by magic, communicate with the spirits, and control events). They also practice various traditional rituals before and after marriage, at birth, and at death.


What Are Their Needs?
The Kazakh are facing ecological catastrophe due to the mismanagement of natural resources. This has caused the near desolation of the Aral Sea and contamination of much of their drinking water. As a result, the infant mortality rate is very high. There is also a high rate of stillbirths and birth defects. Abortion is their main method of birth control. Most women have five or six abortions. Because Kazakhs value children, this creates a serious emotional battle for Kazakh parents.

The Kazakh church is young, but the church is growing. Young people are especially excited about hearing the Good News of the Gospel. Over 40 Kazakh speaking churches exist, but in a people group of over eight million, that is a small number. Many churches are located in the major cities like Almaty, but Christian workers are also needed in the rural areas.



Prayer Points

  • Praise God for the growing number of Kazakh Christians.
  • Pray that they would learn the Word of God quickly.
  • Pray that there would be fresh leadership training materials prepared in the Kazakh language for pastors.
  • Pray for salvation for heads of families as the Gospel is clearly presented to them.
  • Ask the Lord to send long term laborers to live among the Kazak and share the love of Christ with them.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of the Kazak towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to go and break up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Ask God to encourage and protect the small number of Muslim Kazak who have converted to Christianity.
  • Pray that these converts will begin to boldly share the Gospel with their own people.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Kazak.

Text source: Copyright © GAAPNet: Updated original Bethany people profile. Used with permission.

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The Great Challenges of the City

Church Planting, cities, Other Authors

“An honest evaluation of church history should serve to remind Christians that there has often been some hesitation to embrace the city. After all, when in the Book of Genesis Lot chose the cities of the plain for his habitation, it led to disaster. With the exception of Jerusalem, most cities referenced in the Bible are mentioned with considerable concern, if not outright judgment. Think of Nineveh, Babylon, Tyre, Sidon, Sodom, Gomorrah, Corinth, and Rome.”

To read the entire article please go to Albert Mohler’s blog

Khmer of Cambodia

Church Planting, least reached

Pray for the Khmer of Central Cambodia

Population: 12,475,000

Language: Khmer

Religion: Buddhism

The Central Khmer inhabit the western and central portions of Cambodia, and make up 90% of the country’s total population. The Central Khmer speak an Eastern Mon-Khmer language called Khmer, or Cambodian. It is the national language of Cambodia. The Khmer Empire, which flourished between the ninth and thirteenth centuries, encompassed present-day Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and southern Vietnam. Its power declined after being conquered by the Thai and the Vietnamese. In 1969, Cambodia suffered bombings by the U.S. and invasions by the Vietnamese; events that threw the country into turmoil. In addition, a civil war broke out between the Cambodian government and Communist rebels known as the Khmer Rouge. Possibly three million Central Khmer died between 1975 and 1979, while the Khmer Rouge ruled. Since then, peace talks with the Khmer Rouge have failed, coups continue, and the Central Khmer still live in fear.

What Are Their Lives Like?

In 1975, the Khmer Rouge regime nearly destroyed Cambodia. In order to depopulate cities, three million people were forced into the countryside as slave labor. Starvation led to the deaths of over one million people. Currency was abolished; religion was eradicated; education was suspended; medicine was forbidden; and people who could read were often massacred all in the name of the ideal of rural social reform. Many people fled north to Thailand; others took the trail of tears into Communist Laos. Unfortunately, there they struggled to find clothing, shelter, medical care, and food. Some Khmer found permanent homes; others found shelter in crowded refugee camps. Before the war, 90% of Cambodia’s inhabitants lived in one-third of the country, along the two main waterways and their tributaries. Although the soil there is not fertile, the plains flood every rainy season. The overflow brings an abundance of fish; and when it recedes, leaves rich deposits. Sadly, bombing, civil war, and war with the Vietnamese decimated a once thriving agricultural economy. Today, most of the Khmer still live in small villages and grow rice in irrigated paddies. Rubber is also important to their economy. Unfortunately, it has been dangerous for the farmers to work the fields since the 1970’s (due to land mines). The mines have caused more wounds to the Central Khmer than any other weapon. In 1994, the United States provided military aid to help locate the mines and build new roads. While the Khmer Rouge ruled Cambodia, more men died than women, creating a skewed sex ratio. Today, women are required to perform duties that were once done by men. They dress in colorful skirts, adding life to their unhappy environment. Red and white checkered cloth is used to make everything from headdresses to pouches for carrying babies. In the villages, Buddhist rules of conduct maintain social control. These rules forbid lying, stealing, drinking alcoholic, committing adultery, and killing living creatures. Some remnants of traditional culture can be seen in the villages: folk dance, the classical royal ballet, and traditional Khmer music.

What are their beliefs?

The former Khmer Empire was influenced by India, from which it adopted Hinduism and Buddhism. Today, 94% of the Central Khmer are Buddhist, although relics of ethnic religions such as ancestor worship (praying to deceased ancestors) and spirit worship are very important to them. The Buddhist Khmer also seek the middle path to nirvana, or ultimate peace through gaining merit in this life. Merit may be gained through supporting the construction of Buddhist temples, giving food to monks, and studying in the monastery.

What are their needs?

Although the Bible and other Christian resources are available to the Central Khmer, less than 1% of their population has turned to Christ. They remain a war-torn people in need of true, inner peace. Prayer is the key to reaching them with the Gospel.

Prayer Points:

  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Cambodia and share Christ with the Central Khmer.
  • Pray that God will grant wisdom and favor to any missions agencies that are currently working among the Central Khmer.
  • Ask the Lord to begin revealing Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Pray that God will encourage and protect the Central Khmer who have accepted Jesus.
  • Ask God to use these new converts to reach out and share the love of Christ with their own people.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Khmer bound.
  • Ask God to call forth prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through intercession.
  • Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Central Khmer.

Text source: Bethany World Prayer Center © 1999.Used with permission from Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse