Where are they located? Mishars are a Tatar ethnic group inhabiting the right bank of the Volga River up to the right bank of the Oka River to the north in Niznyi Novgorod, Penza and Ulyanovsk regions. The locals refer to the area as Misharistan, because it is the land of Mishar Tatar.
What are their lives like? They speak a western dialect of the Tatar language. They carefully preserve their traditions. Despite the actions of the Soviet Government to eradicate religion in the country, the local Tatars have managed to preserve wooden mosques -- unique historical monuments with a 200-year history. But what is more interesting; the Mishar Tatars not only honor their own tradition, but keep and respect ancient Russian traditions. During the Majlis (Assembly), funeral or religious holidays, they place samovars on their tables and drink tea from saucers in the ancient Russian manner.
What are their beliefs? The Mishar Tatar are of the Hanafite branch of Sunni Islam. The Tatar's Volga area has been an Islamic stronghold since the ninth century. Nevertheless, the Tatar's beliefs remain more liberal and intellectual than the beliefs held by the more Orthodox Muslims of Central Asia or the Caucasus. For instance, in many of their mosques, prayer times have been arranged so as not to conflict with work schedules. Women have also been encouraged to join the men at the mosques instead of praying at home, as is the usual custom.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to call those who are willing to go to Russia and share Christ with the Mishar Tatar.
* Pray that God will give missions agencies favor and strategies for reaching these Muslims.
* Ask God to open doors for Christian businessmen, teachers, and other tentmakers to share the Gospel with them.
* Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Mishar Tatar towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
* Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Mishar Tatar.