March 2010

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Reach the “Unreachable"of the Caucasus Mountain Region Through Prayer!

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Why is this region so hard to reach for Christ? Let’s start with the physical and spiritual obstacles to getting out the gospel to the Northern Caucasus’ Mountain Region.

  1. Geography—Difficult to access.
  2. Language – complex, difficult to communicate.
  3. Military/Political Instability/Violence. Everybody is tense. Leaders are always nervous.
  4. Traditional Islam—protective by nature, intolerant, unwelcoming, protective of status quo.
  5. The unseen spiritual strongholds beyond Islam. Sometimes you feel them, other times you don’t, but you’re always dealing with them. Ephesians 6:12.
  6. The people are extremely closed to outsiders.
  7. Cultures are proud and defensive. They are viewed as violent and combative. There is some truth to this since they have been exploited.
  8. Enforced uniformity is very high. The shame/honor dynamic is found in Islam, but in this region it precedes Islam. “I don’t agree with you, but I’ll fight to the death for you to have the right to say it,” is very American. “I don’t agree with you, and I’ll fight to the death to prevent you from being able to say it,” is the philosophy in this region.
  9. Political bureaucracy reflects all the above obstacles. It represents the culture of the region. Instinctively, the bureaucrats hate outsiders because they’re different. Heartland regions are complex with four levels of bureaucracy to overcome (this dislike of foreigners does not just apply to North Americans, but to anybody not from their region, even Russians).
  10. Officials are pervasively corrupt at every level. They maneuver to obtain a bribe at every opportunity. There is a discernable pattern in the power structure. They need to pay back the people who put them in their position.

The following sins are prevalent in the Northern Caucasus:

  1. Many forms of lying are honored.
  2. Carousing and drunkenness.
  3. Unbelievable rates of abortion.
  4. Ghastly abuse of women and children.
  5. Power struggles.

On the other hand, there are also strengths in the culture that will help get the gospel out.

  1. Their hospitality is unparalleled anywhere in the world.
  2. Friendship is considered more valuable than your bank account. Banks are unstable but, to the people in this region, friends are your bank account, even prospective friends. Here is a key insight: all of the resistance issues mentioned above can be overcome through deep friendships.
  3. There are three levels of relationship: acquaintance, friend and kunakh. If you become a kunakh, you have the highest order of friendship with deep commitment. As a kunakh you become part of one another’s family. They are responsible for you as long as you are in their home. It’s an amazing gift of friendship, and provides considerable safety. Initially it slows you down, but eventually it speeds you up.
  4. They have a strong sense of dependence on God and a deep faith in His sovereignty. They accept God’s will for their lives and they don’t question Him.
  5. Priority of reverence and respect for God. They stop and excuse themselves to go pray.
  6. Sense of time. People have time for each other. In the northern Caucasus, it’s an honor to have someone drop in on you. There is a strong sense of inclusiveness. They are encouraged when you enter into their world. They love to have you participate, be part of their experience, celebrate culture, and be good listeners.
  7. Extended family is strength. They look out for their second cousins and more distant family members.
  8. They have a deeply ingrained respect for the elderly. They give them honor, deference, respect, and they listen to them.

An issue facing the culture is that, once you get beyond the family obligations, there is no concept of unselfish agape love. 

Here are strategies to reach these people groups for Christ:

  1. Begin regular persistent prayer for the Northern Caucasus nationalities.
  2. Encourage your church to adopt one of the people groups mentioned in this current prayer guide.
  3. Pray that God will raise up godly Christians to spread the good news throughout this region.
  4. Pray that radio and audio-recorded gospel messages in the various languages and dialects will be provided to the people.

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From the Editor

by Keith Carey, managing editor, GPD

Dear Praying Friends,

This month we are praying for a region in southern Russia and Azerbaijan where cruel strife and gentle hospitality live side by side. The peoples of the Caucasus Mountain Region are used to living with their backs to the wall, always weary of the next invader. It’s no wonder that they don’t trust foreign missionaries. Foreign visitors are considered bad news to these people who simply want to be left alone.
Some of these people groups once encountered Russian Orthodox missionaries who were apparently trying to extend the influence of the Russian Empire. These unpleasant contacts make it even more difficult for missionaries today, who genuinely want to extend Christ’s influence in the area. Furthermore, ethnic groups in the region are so fragmented that linguists probably still cannot produce a complete list of languages and dialects. These factors will make it very difficult for today’s ambassadors for Christ to get a fair hearing. However, the fact that these people listened to Muslim missionaries centuries ago tells us that they can be influenced by the outside world. Pray for those trying to take the gospel to the Caucasus Mountains!
In Christ,