The isolated Muslim people groups of the North Caucasus remain a significant challenge to finishing the Great Commission, representing a dangerous and difficult-to-access frontier. Yet this forgotten land boasts unparalleled beauty and legendary hospitality to accompany opportunities for pioneer mission. Though troubles remain, the region is far safer than a decade ago, with the possibility of deeper stability on the horizon, even in the renowned but infamous Chechnya region where war and conflict with the Kremlin in the 1990’s has been superseded by reconstruction and relative political stability.
[ Unedited – in Aynur’s own words and translated locally in Kazan, Tatarstan ]
I have chosen to serve among Muslims, namely, the Meskhetian Turkish people who live in the North Caucasus. These are the people who were exiled from their land in the past. They fled to Georgia first, then under Stalin they were deported to Uzbekistan, and then because of the conflict with the local people they were sent to Kabardino-Balkaria and other republics of the Northern Caucasus.
I am planning to move there and preach the gospel, make disciples and join a team who are planting a new church there. I went there a year ago and am still in contact with some locals. There are some believing Turks but there are very few of them. It is an unreached nation. You need to work really hard to win their trust. I was accepted because I am an ethnic Tatar, and they consider me to be their brother. They accepted me into their homes and I helped them in practical ways. They are still writing to me telling me they are waiting for me to come back.
They are mainly working the land, and their young people go to Turkey to earn a living. They have their own mosque that is only attended by the Turks. They worship in Turkish. They understand Russian, and it makes it easier for me to talk to them. I am also learning Turkish. My own mother tongue is Tatar, and it is a lot like their old Turkish dialect, so I can understand some words and phrases and explain some things to them.
On my first trip I wasn’t really ready. They have a different culture which is more Central-Asian than my own. I made a lot of mistakes. While at EM College, I learned a lot and understood how I could be more effective in serving these people.
- For Aynur as he moves to live amongst and witness to the Meskhetians
- That the Turkish Meskhetians will find ‘acceptance and belonging’ through believing in Christ and experiencing church fellowship
- For more missionaries to go to the unreached region of the North Caucasus