Balkar in Kyrgyzstan

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People Name: Balkar
Country: Kyrgyzstan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 1,400
World Population: 116,300
Primary Language: Karachay-Balkar
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 2.03 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Caucasus
Affinity Bloc: Eurasian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Balkar people are traditionally mountain-dwellers. For centuries, the Muslim Balkar people have lived in the highlands of the Caucasus Mountains (southern Russia) in the province of Kabardino-Balkaria, shepherding their flocks and their livestock. They resisted Russian domination for many years. The scarcity of usable land forced many to move to the cities of Central Asia such as Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Balkar originally lived in homes made of mud and wood. Today, their houses are built with brick or stone and have tile or slate roofs. The homes usually have two stories and most have porches.

The life of a shepherd has never been easy. In ancient times, we read of the shepherd boy David, who fought against wild animals to save his flock. It's never-ending, strenuous work. Expanding their property to accommodate increased herds is something shepherds strive for, since a man's fortune is ranked by the number of cattle or sheep he owns. This livelihood is passed from father to son, beginning at a very young age.

Others live in an urban landscape of Bishkek.

What Are Their Beliefs?

There is a small group of believers among the Sunni Muslim Balkar people. In 1957 Ibrahim became the first Balkar believer. He found Jesus while living in a foreign land under the deportation of Stalin. It would be another 32 years until another Balkarian would come into the Shepherd's fold--in 1989--and a third became a follower of Jesus in 1991 as the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union was torn down. Several adolescents have prayed to receive Christ at summer camp but have no ongoing Christian influence in their lives.

What Are Their Needs?

The small group of Christians struggles to develop Christian practices in a culture where every aspect of life, from birth, to marriage, to death, is governed by folk-Islamic and Balkar traditions.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send loving Russian Christians to minister Life to their Muslim neighbors.

Pray that the Holy Spirit will soften the hearts of the Balkarian people towards faith in Christ.

Ask God to call forth teams of intercessors who will rise up and faithfully stand in the gap for the Balkar.

Pray for the salvation of key Balkar leaders who will boldly proclaim the gospel.

Text Source:   Joshua Project