Kazakh in Lithuania

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People Name: Kazakh
Country: Lithuania
10/40 Window: No
Population: 500
World Population: 16,737,100
Primary Language: Kazakh
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Kazakh
Affinity Bloc: Turkic Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Kazakhs of Lithuania belong to a larger group of people who live primarily in present day Kazakhstan. Traditionally, the Kazakhs were semi nomadic, equestrian tribal people who roamed the Ural Mountains and the regions of North and Central Asia of Eurasia. Only people of the Kazakh ethnic group are called Kazakhs, while the term Kazakhstani refers to the people of Kazakhstan, inclusive of all ethnic groups living in the country. Kazakhs developed a distinct ethnic identity in the late 15th and early 16th centuries. As several of the clans formed a federation for mutual protection, they took on an ethnic identity of their own. Through the years the Kazakhs closely preserved their culture by keeping an epic tradition of oral history. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the annexation of Central Asia by Russia and the Soviet Union respectively, resulted in many Kazakhs fleeing the steppes to Europe and Asia, with many later becoming citizens of those countries. A small number of Kazakhs live in Eastern European countries like Lithuania, Czechia, Ukraine, and a larger number are in Russia.

What Are Their Lives Like?

As part of their nation building strategy the government of Kazakhstan has actively supported the return migration of Kazakhs to Kazakhstan by offering incentives. As a result, one million ethnic Kazakhs have repatriated to their ancestral homeland, including some from Lithuania. The Kazakhs' tribal culture is waning in urban locations like those you find in Lithuania. At one time arranged marriages and inter-tribal marriages helped them maintain peace and gave them a sense of security. Such practices are fading in urban settings. Nonetheless, when ethnic Kazakhs meet another, they still enquire about the other person's clan. As the Kazakhs dispersed during the Soviet annexation, over time the diaspora Kazakhs embraced the language and traditions of the new land. At home they usually speak the Kazakh language. Urban Kazakhs have learned to live in houses or small apartments, taking up low paying jobs. Their standard of living has gone up and down through the decades. Western style dress is common among urban Kazakhs. No matter where they live, Kazakhs have their own kinds of food they eat along with whatever is available locally. Besbarmak is a traditional Kazakh food, made with boiled horsemeat or lamb. Rice and bread are common staples. The Kazakhs enjoy eating apples, grapes, melons. They drink tea with almost every meal. The structure of the Kazakh family is patriarchal, or male-dominated, but this is changing especially in the cities. Such changes have caused a breakdown in the traditional Kazakh family. However, Kazakhs still retain an extremely hierarchical view and people with age and position are given great respect and honor.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The Kazakhs are Sunni Muslims and are the second largest Muslim group of Central Asia. Islam was first introduced to them in the early eighth century. Their Islamic practices are combined with traditional folk religions such as shamanism, animism and ancestor worship. Even now many Kazakhs continue to consult shamans (priests who communicate with the spirits). They also practice traditional rituals before and after marriage, at birth and at death. Many of them wear "protection beads" and talismans to ward off the evil spirits and the evil eye. Since 1818 missionary efforts by various Christian organizations has borne fruit among the Kazakhs. Today the entire Bible and other resources are available in the Kazakh language.

What Are Their Needs?

Kazakhs in Eastern Europe need job training so they can flourish in an urban environment. They also need the chance to hear and respond to the Risen Lord.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send long term laborers to live among Kazakhs and share the love of Christ with them. Ask the Holy Spirit to open the hearts of Kazakhs so that they will be receptive to the gospel. Pray that Christian businessmen will have open doors to share the gospel. Ask the Lord to raise up a church planting movement among Kazakhs.

Text Source:   Joshua Project