by by the North Caucasus Fellowship
Why is this Northern Caucasus 45-language region so hard to reach for Christ? Let’s start with 10 intertwined factors.
Ten Barriers to the Gospel
1—This mountain region is rugged and difficult to access geographically.
2—The languages are among the most difficult to master in the world.
3—There is so much military and political instability that everyone is tense, and it isn’t safe for outsiders to enter.
4—Every one of these cultures is proud and resistant to change. They feel a strong need to defend themselves against outside influences.
5—In these cultures there is a high level of xenophobia, meaning fear and hostility towards outsiders. They look at people from the outside with doubt, distrust, and suspicion. Outsiders are guilty until proven innocent.
6—Enforced uniformity is very high. A shame and honor dynamic is found in Islam, but in this region it predates 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 western. “I don’t agree with you, and I’ll fight to the death to keep you from saying it,” is the philosophy of this region.
7—Traditional Islam is strong, and there is a rigorous defense of Islamic identity and traditions. People are fiercely protective of the status quo. Violators are considered traitors.
8—The complex political structure reflects the cultural resistance to change and the Islamic defense of the region. There are at least four levels of bureaucracy to overcome. Bear in mind that suspicion of outsiders does not just apply to westerners, but to anyone not from their region, even Russians.
9—There is a pervasive corruption among government officials at every level. There is a discernible pattern: in order to go up the ladder the officials must keep paying money to those who put them in power.
10—There are unseen spiritual strongholds beyond Islam, and they are deeply felt in the region.
Patrick Johnstone, author of Operation World, writes, “It’s hard to conceive of a more difficult region to evangelize than the Caucasus. The obstacles to evangelism are local wars, ethnic rivalries, interreligious hatred, harsh Russian control, and very high levels of official corruption, suspicion, and frequent hostility towards foreigners… Then there is the diversity and complexity of the local languages… the lack of active churches and Christians, and even the lack of Scriptures in most of the languages.”
Who is willing to risk everything so that in this generation these peoples, loved by God, have the chance to become followers of the Lord Jesus?
Despite These Obstacles, There is Hope
1—In these cultures there is a great hunger for unselfish, pure love. They know they need agape love.
2—David Garrison in Wind in the House of Islam cites how, “Spiritual power through dreams, visions, healing, deliverance, total forgiveness, signs and wonders,” are keys which will increase the Jesus movement in the Muslim world. All of this is true among new believers in the Muslim Caucasus. Pray for God’s Spirit and power to multiply.
3—There are three levels of personal relationships in this part of the world: acquaintanceships, friendships, and kunakh. If you become a kunakh, you become part of one another’s family. This is an amazing gift of deep friendship, and provides considerable safety to the individuals.
4—Friendship is considered more valuable than your bank account. Here is a key insight: all of the resistance issues mentioned earlier can be overcome through kunakh - deep friendships.
Humanly Impossible Challenges For God To Overcome
1—Power struggles are increasing in the Caucasus Mountain provinces. In the past five years clashes between traditional Muslims and radical Muslims have intensified.
2—In the past four years many international Christian workers were expelled from the region.
3—The underlying factor of “grace-less-ness,” (a lack of a forgiving heart) and the accompanying harshness is felt everywhere. For example, in approximately half of the 45 languages, a clear word for forgiveness does not even exist. This factor is so central that it will be mentioned in almost every daily prayer entry.
4—Traditional mission approaches originating from any sector have not worked. Either missionaries can’t get in, or if they do, they run into stone walls of strong resistance.
There is More Hope Than Ever Before!
1—In the past three years the number of intense prayer movements for Caucasus peoples has increased from 17 to 45. There is an observable seedbed of fruitfulness when persistent prayer combines with genuine friendships laced with honor and love.
2—First-ever believers have appeared in 11 more people groups! There are now known believers in 29 out of the 45 people groups, and internal Jesus movements in 16 out of the 45—several years ago this was only eight.
What Can You Do?
1—Begin an intentional, persistent prayer movement for one of the most-in-need people groups of the Caucasus.
2—Specifically ask your church or an assembly within your church to begin praying for one of the 16 people groups who still have no known believers: the Akkin, the Godoberi, the Karata, the Chamalal, the Bagulal, the Tindi, the Khvarshin, the Ginukh, the Ghunzib, the Batlukh/Gid, the Antsukh, the Archi, the Kubachi, the Kaitag, and the Tsakhur Tat.
This month we are praying for breakthroughs from our last GPD issue about this region which was published three years ago. You can be a part of making sure these final 16 people groups are covered with persistent prayer. And then we can all rejoice together when we are praying for this region.
Pray for These Four Things For This Month’s People Groups
1—Pray for the Father to raise up laborers—the right person at the right time - to enter into the right relationships with the people (Matthew 9:36-38).
2—Pray that those laborers will have loving-serving ways and will live for a long time near the people. This may be very difficult in this tough region (Matthew 10:16).
3—Pray that the Lord will prepare and show His laborers the “person/people of peace” within that cultural world who will allow them to have a true friendship (Luke 10:6).
4—Pray for the laborers to notice and cooperate with the Father in assisting open-hearted people to come to salvation (John 5:19).
We long to see each people group in the Caucasus prayed for by dedicated, caring, followers of Jesus. We ask that the Father will provide workers, and He will lead those workers to men and women of peace inside the cultures, so that the Jesus option can truly become an internal option for each culture. (Luke 18:1-8; Matt.13:33)
Write to the North Caucasus Partnership for coaching on prayer for an unreached people group and help in coordinating your prayer selections.
by Keith Carey
Dear Praying Friends,
Matthew 24:14 (NIV) says “And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.” I have been asked which people groups will most likely be the last to hear the gospel on earth and receive it before the end comes. Judging from my 30 years of looking into these matters, I can honestly say that it will probably be either people groups living in central Brazil where no outsider has been, or people groups living in the North Caucasus Mountain region of southern Russia where no outsider is accepted. People from the North Caucasus Fellowship wrote everything in this current prayer digest except for this editorial, and each day they reminded us to pray for the grace of Christ to come to these people who know no grace.
There is a reason why outsiders are not accepted in the North Caucasus area. These people have been overrun and abused by outsiders for centuries. The high mountain enclaves where they live are their only place of safety. They want nothing to do with the outside world. Can you blame them? Unfortunately, Christ’s ambassadors are barred from sharing the gospel in this region along with potential invaders .
You will thank the Lord this month for the progress made in getting the gospel out in the North Caucasus in the last three years. We have read Revelation 7:9-10, and there will be some from every tribe, tongue, and nation that will worship the Savior in His kingdom. Will it be sooner, or later? That might depend on whether or not people regularly pray for these unreached people groups who are in bondage to a mindset that lacks the grace of Christ.