Introduction / History Although they are related to Kazakh and other Turkic peoples of the region, the Kyrgyz look very much like the Mongols. More than any other Central Asian people, the Kyrgyz have clung to their traditional way of life as nomadic cattle raisers. They have also maintained their tribal organization. Today, the Kyrgyz live in one of the highest plateaus of the world. The name "Kyrgyz" means "the descendants of forty maidens." The Kyrgystan flag has forty sun rays to represent the Kyrgyz heritage.
Where are they located? There is a Kyrgyz diaspora that is mainly in other Central Asian nations and Russia, but a small number have migrated to countries in the West such as Canada, where there is a Kyrgyz community in Vancouver.
What are their lives like? Music, dance and story-telling are important parts of the Kyrgyz culture. Verbal folklore has been very well developed over the years. The Kyrgyz have the longest oral epic in the word entitled "Manas." It contains 100,000 lines of verse. They sing folk tales accompanied by a three-stringed guitar called a dombra.
Kyrgyz women enjoy more freedoms than do most other Central Asian women. For example, they are not required to wear veils. They are allowed to talk to men.
What are their beliefs? Consecutive waves of Islamization took place since the Arabs first invaded Talas in 751 when many Kyrgyz tribes were still in Siberia. Northern nomadic tribes were able to skirt many of the Islamic traditions until recently. Within the last 200 years, the majority of the Kyrgyz people converted to Islam. Currently, in Kyrgyzstan there is an effort to bring the Kyrgyz people to a more orthodox form of Islam. Since 1990, over 3000 new mosques have been built in Kyrgyzstan. This movement is not affecting the Kyrgyz who live in Canada.
Soviets were never able to change the Kyrgyz beliefs, even though they tried a number of methods including changing the alphabet, outlawing religious activity, and propaganda.
Today, most Kyrgyz still consider themselves to be Muslim, although shamanism is a powerful force among them, even those who have left the country. (Shamanism is the belief that there is an unseen world of many gods, demons, and ancestral spirits.) Many Kyrgyz people still turn to mediums and seers to cure sickness with magic, communicate with powers and control events. Almost all Kyrgyz believers have to go through a breaking of demonic powers over their lives once they decide to follow Christ.
What are their needs? Kyrgyz people in Canada need the chance to thrive economically and spiritually as they settle into their new lives in Canada.
Prayer Points * Pray for His Kingdom to come and His will to be done among the Kyrgyz people.
* Pray for a movement of Kyrgyz households to study the Bible and accept the blessings of Christ.
* Pray for a spiritual hunger that will drive the Kyrgyz people to the arms of Jesus.
* Pray for workers who are filled with the fruit and the power of the Holy Spirit to go to the Kyrgyz people.