Lezgin in Ukraine

Map Source:  Anonymous
People Name: Lezgin
Country: Ukraine
10/40 Window: No
Population: 3,300
World Population: 893,800
Primary Language: Lezgi
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: New Testament
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Caucasus
Affinity Bloc: Eurasian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

In the fourth century BC, 26 tribes speaking a Lezgic language united to form a united state. They were initially influenced by the Persians, and later they were influenced by the Parthians, who had a powerful empire. They have been pressured or conquered by many peoples since that time; the Greeks, Romans and the Alans. Islamic armies swept into the Caspian seacoast region of the Lezgin people as early as the 7th and 8th centuries and has carried huge influence into Lezgin society over the past 1000 years. By the end of the 18th Century, the Lezgin people were considered 100 percent Muslim. Before that time, they retained their animistic religion. Though they are most populous in Dagestan (SW Russia) and Azerbaijan, there are Lezgi communities in many other parts of Central Asia and even Ukraine, the "Bible Belt" of Eastern Europe.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Lezgi raise sheep and goats, combined with subsistence agriculture, leather working, and textile production. They are famous hand-woven carpets. The Lezgi language is alive and well—with a huge reservoir of Lezgi literature and music. Many Lezgi have also out-migrated from rural Lezgi regions to urban areas, primarily for economic reasons. Patriarchal social structure among the Lezgi remains strong, especially in village life and in demarcated urban enclaves.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Islamic power swept into the Caspian seacoast region of the Lezgi people already in the 7th and 8th Centuries and has carried huge influence into Lezgi society over the past 1000 years. By the end of the 18th Century, the Lezgi people were considered 100% Muslim. Spiritism and animistic practices are also widespread in Lezgi culture. They often tie rags to holy trees or near holy graves to seek spiritual assistance for health or marriage or economic good fortune. They often consult with soothsayers, a practice frowned upon by orthodox Sunni Muslims.

What Are Their Needs?

As epitomized in the majestic Lezginka, there is a nobility in ancient Lezgi culture. This, however, as elsewhere in the world, does not leave the people immune to the effects of sinful human nature. And neither spiritism nor Islam provides the cleansing forgiveness of Jesus or the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. In the past two decades there are now more than 75 Lezgi followers of Jesus in Dagestan, and more than 100 Lezgi believers in Azerbaijan. They can be Christ's ambassadors to the Lezgi people in other countries like Ukraine. Of great significance is progress in Lezgi Bible translation. The four gospels, Acts and a Children's Bible have been published in Lezgi, and sixteen additional NT books are in process. From the OT, Ruth, Esther and Jonah have been published, and ten more OT books are in process. There is a strong Bible translation team, including Lezgi believers. This work connects with the heart of Lezgi language and culture. An ancient text in a Lezgi tribal language, from pre-Islamic times, even contains Bible translation portions. Pray that the best of noble Lezgi culture will be infused with the regenerating power of Jesus' grace!

Prayer Points

Pray for Ukrainian believers to take Christ to the Lezgi people in their country. Pray for the Lezgi believers to shine as bright lights in the midst of their families and clans in Turkey and Ukraine. Pray for men and women of peace (Luke 10:6) in each Lezgi families and communities, to be keys to welcoming the love of God, the grace of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit in the years ahead. Give thanks for the translation work which is underway. Pray for wide reading among Lezgi speakers wherever they are! Pray for many Lezgi to dance, full of the joy of the Holy Spirit, in the years to come. Pray for the noble Lezgi culture to be graced with the Fruit of the Spirit in the next generation.

Text Source:   Joshua Project