Lezgin in Turkmenistan

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People Name: Lezgin
Country: Turkmenistan
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 19,000
World Population: 829,700
Primary Language: Lezgi
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
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

Lezgins are believed to descend partly from people who inhabited the region of southern Dagestan in the Bronze Age. The Lezgins resisted Russification by refusing to participate in programs to relocate them from the highlands and into lowland towns and collective farms. Thus, the majority of the Lezgins still maintain a traditional lifestyle.

They live mainly in Azerbaijan and Dagestan (Russian Federation), but there are also substantial numbers in other countries, including Turkmenistan.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Lezgin people raise sheep and goats, combined with subsistence agriculture, leather working, and textile production. They are famous hand-woven carpets. Their language is alive and well—with a huge reservoir of Lezgin literature and music. Many Lezgin have also out-migrated from rural Lezgin regions to urban areas, primarily for economic reasons. Patriarchal social structure among the Lezgin remains strong, especially in village life and in demarcated urban enclaves.

What Are Their Beliefs?

By the 19th century, the Lezgins had all been converted to Islam from animism, and they have since then been very devout in their faith. Most are Sunni Muslim, but some animistic practices continue today. They often tie rags to holy trees or near holy graves to seek spiritual assistance for health or marriage or economic good fortune. They often consult with soothsayers, a practice frowned upon by orthodox Sunni Muslims.

What Are Their Needs?

As epitomized in the majestic Lezginka, there is a nobility in ancient Lezgi culture. This, however, as elsewhere in the world, does not leave the people immune to the effects of sinful human nature. Neither spiritism nor Islam provides the cleansing forgiveness of Jesus or the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. In the past two decades there are now more than 75 Lezgin followers of Jesus in Dagestan, and more than 100 Lezgin believers in Azerbaijan. They can be Christ's ambassadors to the Lezgin people in other countries like Turkmenistan. Of great significance is progress in Lezgin Bible translation. The four gospels, Acts and a Children's Bible have been published in Lezgi, and sixteen additional NT books are in process. From the OT, Ruth, Esther and Jonah have been published, and ten more OT books are in process. There is a strong Bible translation team, including Lezgi believers. This work connects with the heart of Lezgin language and culture. An ancient text in a Lezgin tribal language, from pre-Islamic times, even contains Bible translation portions.

Prayer Points

Pray that the best of noble Lezgin culture will be infused with the regenerating power of Jesus' grace!

Pray for the Lezgin believers to shine as bright lights in the midst of their families and clans in Turkey and Ukraine.

Pray for men and women of peace (Luke 10:6) in each Lezgin families and communities, to be keys to welcoming the love of God, the grace of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit in the years ahead.

Give thanks for the translation work which is underway. Pray for wide reading among Lezgin speakers wherever they are, including Turkmenistan.

Text Source:   Joshua Project