Mordvin-Moksha in Russia

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People Name: Mordvin-Moksha
Country: Russia
10/40 Window: No
Population: 483,000
World Population: 483,000
Primary Language: Moksha
Primary Religion: Christianity
Christian Adherents: 65.00 %
Evangelicals: 1.60 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Finno-Ugric
Affinity Bloc: Eurasian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Mordvin-Moksha are one of the larger indigenous peoples of Russia. Their homeland is west of the Volga River roughly 800 kilometers southwest of Moscow. The Mongols controlled the land of the Mordvins from the 13th to 16th centuries. The Russian Empire then took over the area. The Russians began a process of "Russification" of the Mordvins. The Mordvins were pressured to accept Eastern Orthodox Christianity, speak Russian and accept Russian names. During the time of the Soviet Union the pressure became even stronger to eliminate the native Mordvin culture and language. Many Mordvins were sent by the Soviet government to other parts of the Soviet Union including Uzbekistan, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Belarus. With the fall of the Soviet Union, the Mordvin language and culture has seen a revival. Some Mordvin intellectuals wanted a separate Mordvin nation. Such talk is now illegal in Russia. The Mordvins are permitted to have their festivals, clothing, music, arts, and language.

What Are Their Lives Like?

In urban areas of Russia one would have a difficult time separating the Mordvins from the Russian population. Many Mordvins have been completely absorbed into the dominant Russian society. The Mordvins work the same jobs, go to the same schools and speak the same language as the Russians. The Mordvins make up about one third of the citizens of the Mordvinia Republic in Russia. In rural areas the Mordvins feel freer to express their culture. Agriculture is a major source of income. The Mordvins grow barley, wheat, vegetables, and potatoes. These crops can survive in the very cold winters and flourish short warm summers. Fishing and raising cattle are also common among the rural Mordvins.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Mordvin religion is an interesting mixture of Russian Eastern Orthodoxy and folk religion. Many Mordvin attend church services on Sunday and have their babies baptized. However, they also believe that spirits inhabit the sky, earth, rivers, lakes, and underworld. These spirits must be appeased or they can bring trouble and plagues upon the people. Village shamans connect the Mordvin to the spiritual world. They provide charms, rituals and offerings to the spirits and gods of nature. A New Testament in the Erzya Mordvin language became available in 2006. Only a tiny fraction of the Mordvin can be classified as evangelical Christians.

What Are Their Needs?

The Mordvins must come to understand that one cannot mix Christianity with folk religion. The biblical Trinity is the only true God. The Mordvin need to be taught the basic principles of the Christian religion found in the Bible. The natural spirits have no power or reality.

Prayer Points

Pray the Mordvins would begin to read and apply the Word of God. Pray that God delivers them from their fear of evil spirits and gives them a spiritual hunger. Pray the whole Bible becomes available in the Mordvin language. Pray the Lord sends teachers to help the Mordvins learn the Bible in their heart language.

Text Source:   Joshua Project