Introduction / History The Chechens of southwestern Russia are a strong, determined people with a long history of fighting for their independence. Soviet rule dominated the Chechens during the 20th century. For many years the Chechens had based land tenure upon joint-clan ownership. When the Soviets introduced the idea of property ownership by society rather than by clan, the Chechen fiercely opposed it.
When World War II broke out, most Chechens opposed the Germans and fought alongside the Soviet Red Army. Despite this, in 1944 many of the Chechen and their neighbors, the Ingush, were deported to central Asia. They were not allowed to return until after 1968.
In 1991, the Chechen Republic declared its independence from Russia. Russian troops invaded Chechnya to regain control, and much of the nation still lies in ruins. Some of them have moved to other nations like Egypt.
Where are they located? Chechens originate in the remote valleys of the Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia between the Caspian Sea and the Black Sea. Most remain there, but some have moved on to other countries like Turkey and France. There is a small number of Chechens in Egypt.
What are their lives like? The Chechens generally marry outside their own clans. Marriage between blood relations is forbidden within a span of three generations. The groom's family pays a dowry to the bride or her family as a guarantee against divorce. Traditionally, a Chechen wife is not allowed to eat with her husband or to speak to his relatives; her role is one of subordination.
The Chechens have been referred to as the "Mafia of Russia", and they are often feared and despised by people inside and outside of Russia. They also have a sad reputation as terrorists because of their attacks in Moscow and Boston.
What are their beliefs? Ruins of church buildings indicate that at least some Chechens had converted to Christianity by the 8th century. During the 16th century Islam was introduced by other peoples who settled among the Chechens. By the late 17th century almost all the Chechen people were Muslim. Despite becoming fully Islamic, some Christian heritage can be seen in the Chechen language. Their word for Sunday translates to "God's day", and the word for Friday translates to "day of Mary".
Chechens are among the most devout Muslims in the former Soviet Union. Several anti-Soviet uprisings have fueled their religious fervor, particularly the opposition to their deportation in the 1940s. At that time Russia attempted to completely eliminate Islam in the Chechen-Ingush territory. All mosques and other religious buildings were closed. These restrictions only served to boost Islamic missionary work in the area. Following this unsuccessful attempt to discourage Islam, two mosques reopened in 1978. A number of Chechens have received religious training in Dagestan, an important center of Islamic culture located the south of the Chechen-Ingush Republic.
What are their needs? The Chechens need a safe, peaceful place to live. They also need to be given the chance to choose the ways of Jesus over the ways that have brought their communities to ruin in the past.
Prayer Points * Pray for political stability in the area where the Chechens live.
* Pray for freedom from war and destruction.
* Ask for believers in Egypt and Syrian to have a burden to share the gospel with the Chechens living in their countries.
* Pray that the Chechens will have the opportunity to choose Jesus.
* Pray that God will establish missionaries among them who are committed to helping them establish disciple making movements.