Introduction / History Although they are related to Kazakh and other Turkic peoples of the region, the Kyrgyz look very much like the Mongols. In fact, they are the people who most clearly resemble Genghis Khan. More than any other Central Asian people, the Kyrgyz have clung to their traditional way of life as nomadic cattle breeders. 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 40 maidens." The Kyrgystan flag has forty sun rays to represent the Kyrgyz heritage.
During its 72 years under Communist rule, the Kyrgyz population grew to four times its original size.
Where are they located? Most Kyrgyz people live in their home country, although there is a sizeable diaspora, especially in countries like Japan and South Korea. Many settle in industrial areas where they can find work.
What are their lives like? South Korea is a popular place for refugees to find work. They arrive seeking hope for their future.
Korea switched from a military dictatorship to a democracy resulting in an economic upturn, requiring more workers, especially in industry. There are, however, growing pains as workers can be abused by their employers. Many foreigners remain illegally, because of South Korean archaic employment laws. Also, some unknowingly enter with fraudulent visas provided by dishonest brokers.
Life if hard for South Korean Kyrgyz refugees in many ways and improving in others as the government catches up to the refugee/need ratio.
What are their beliefs? Consecutive waves of Islamization took place after the Arabs first invaded Talas in 751 when many Kyrgyz tribes were still in Siberia. Northern nomadic tribes skirted many of the Islamic traditions until recently. Within the last two hundred years, the majority has completely converted to Islam. The present wave of Islamization in Kyrgyzstan is one of the most intense that the north has ever experienced. People who were only Muslim by name are now learning many of the more intricate practices, creeds, and doctrines.
Soviets were never able to change Kyrgyz beliefs, even through they tried a number of methods including changing the alphabet, outlawing religious activity, and propaganda. In fact, since 1990, over 3000 new mosques have been built in Kyrgyzstan.
Today, most Kyrgyz still consider themselves to be Muslim; however, some Shamanistic and Tegrism practices still exist. (Shamanism is the belief that there is an unseen world of many gods, demons, and ancestral spirits. Tegrism is a belief system that coincides with the faith expressed throughout the biblical book of Genesis.) Many 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 become Christians.
The Kyrgyz epic hero Manas has taken on god-like status in some parts of Kyrgyzstan. His story reveals many practices and beliefs of pre-Islamic Kyrgyz. There have been some comparisons made between the biblical "Manasseh son of Jacob" (Genesis 48) and the Kyrgyz "Manas son of Jakyb".
What are their needs? The most pressing need of Kyrgyz people in South Korea is to understand the truth of the loving God, who has made provision for them to become his children, and has paid the full payment of the penalty for their sins. Who will pay the price to tell them?
Prayer Points * Pray for his kingdom to come and his will to be done among the Kyrgyz people in South Korea.
* 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 Korean workers who are filled with the fruit and the power of the Holy Spirit to go to the Kyrgyz people.