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The Chechen language traces back to the Nakh family of languages. Chechen is closely related to the language of the nearby Ingush people, who also live in the Caucasus Mountains. The two languages are not mutually intelligible. Those who have heard the other language for a time can understand one another.
The Caucasus Mountain region has been invaded many times throughout its history. This region is a strategic pathway, so through the centuries, the armies of the Persians, the Ottomans, and especially the Russians, have mowed them down.
Chechens living outside Chechnya are often the descendants of those who fled the 19th century Caucasus War, when Russia annexed their homeland, and the 1940s, when Soviet dictator Josef Stalin sent them to Kazakhstan. Others fled their homeland in the 1990s and 2000s when there was fighting between Russian troops and Chechen militias. There is a large Chechen diaspora that spans at least 17 countries, including Ukraine.
The Chechens in Ukraine span a variety of occupations and income levels. Most grow grains, vegetables or fruit; others work in oil refineries or are stockbreeders, particularly of fine-fleeced sheep. Chechen women work outside of their homes each day. People fear them because there are infamous Chechen-based organized crime syndicates.
The core of Chechen society is the taip, a clan-like organization whose members descend from a common ancestor. Each taip is ruled by an assembly of elders with their own court. A network of taips reinforces their sense of being a nation.
The Chechen usually marry outside their own taips. They forbid marriage between blood relations within three generations. The bridegroom's family pays a dowry to the bride or her family as a guarantee against divorce. Traditionally, a Chechen wife may not eat with her husband or to speak to his relatives; her role is one of subordination.
This is ironic since Chechen society upholds egalitarianism. Their ideal is that their people would be free and equal like wolves. They have the wolf as a symbol of their people. A common Chechen greeting is, "Enter into freedom."Some Chechens were probably Christian by the eighth century, but Islam replaced it by the seventeenth century. Islamization was complete by the 19th century, and it is part of their identity, and a driving force for independence.
The Chechens in Ukraine are Sunni Muslims or Sufis. Sufis have their own brotherhoods, and they have a mystical approach to the Islamic religion. About half of the Chechens are part of a Sufi brotherhood.
In recent decades, there have been fundamentalist versions of Sunni Islam coming into Chechen society, but they are more of a means towards nationalism than a spiritual force.
The Chechen diaspora needs to deal with the hurt and the bitterness etched into their psyche for centuries. Only a close relationship with Christ can make a difference in their wounded hearts.
Pray for the Lord to work in Chechen society, leading them away from bitterness and rage, and into the freedom of forgiveness and mercy.
Pray for a movement to Christ that will enrich the Chechen community both spiritually and economically.
Pray for an abundant blessing of Chechen families and communities as they embrace Jesus Christ, the Lord of Lords.
Pray for spiritual openness to Jesus Christ. Currently, their faith is in religious institutions.
Pray for the Chechens in Ukraine to be blessed with an unstoppable movement to Christ.