Kist in Russia

Kist
Photo Source:  UN Development Programme in Europe and CIS  Creative Commons  Used with permission
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People Name: Kist
Country: Russia
10/40 Window: No
Population: 700
World Population: 6,100
Primary Language: Chechen
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: Caucasus
Affinity Bloc: Eurasian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Kist people belong to the larger Caucasian ethnic group called Vainakh. All three peoples, Chechens, Ingush and Kists, are Vainakh people and share similar cultural features. The term "Kist" refers to ethnic Chechens who came from Chechnya to settle in Pankisi Gorge in the 18th century. It is the name that the Georgians originally gave them. The Kist speak Georgian and bear Georgian surnames. The Kist can be considered a subgroup of the Chechen people. During the second half of the 19th century, the Russian government pressured the Kist to convert to Russian Orthodoxy. Some were forcibly baptized. The larger population of Kist people live in Georgia. A smaller group lives in Russian Chechnya near the border with Georgia. The Kist speak the Chechen and Georgian languages. Many also speak Russian which allows them to converse with outsiders.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The Kist community has managed to preserve its original Chechen dialect, culture and traditions. Most members of the community are bicultural and bilingual, and a large number have also lived in Chechnya at some point. Kist people are Caucasian mountaineers. They are proud people, honest and fair, with a hard, austere cold character. They don't like expressing their feelings. They know the value of friendship. They are even able to give their life for the other if they are a true friend. They are also very hospitable, and they respect their elders and traditions. Throughout time and until now, traditions like hospitality, friendship, mutual help and blood feud have remained. Kist people are proud to show how they can still respect them while coping with modernity. The Kist live in the valleys of the Caucasus Mountains. Their main ways of making a living are agriculture and taking care of cattle, goats and sheep. The Kist grow barley, wheat, potatoes, fruits, and vegetables for themselves and to trade to others.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The majority of the Kist claim to be Sunni Muslims. Their brand of Islam is heavily mixed with a pre-Islamic animistic folk religion. They believe in natural spirits and perform rituals in sacred places. The Islamic world has sent wandering mullahs or missionaries into Kist areas trying to influence the Kist to a purer form of Islam. Some "Christian" Kist have been reconverted back to Islam from the words and actions of these mullahs. A smaller group of Kist are Russian Orthodox believers. Their Christianity is also mixed with animism and folk religion. A complete Bible in Chechen became available in 2012.

What Are Their Needs?

The Kist need to hear a presentation of the good news of Jesus Christ in a way they can understand. Kist believers must learn and apply the Bible if they are to grow in the faith. They must forsake their belief in spirits and begin to follow the Lord wholeheartedly. Medical and agricultural teams of Christian workers can visit the Kist and help them with their physical needs.

Prayer Points

*Pray for a spiritual hunger among the Kist leaders and a dissatisfaction with the old spiritual answers. *Pray that Kist believers would be taught the Bible and live Christlike lives before their families and neighbors. *Pray that the Chechen Bibles reaches the right Kist people. *Ask the Lord to raise up a Disciple Making Movement among the Kist people of Georgia and Russia.

Text Source:   Joshua Project