Introduction / History The Tajiks of Central Asia are the oldest surviving people group in that region. Their homeland, Tajikistan, is the mountainous center of Asia, surrounded by the Asian republics of Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Tajikistan includes the Pamir Mountains, which reach altitudes of nearly 25,000 feet. Most of the people live in the parallel valleys below.
The Tajiks have repeatedly been invaded and conquered throughout their history. The armies of Alexander the Great, the Arabs in the seventh century, Genghis Khan, the Turks, the British, and the Russian empire have all had a profound impact on these people.
In fact, the numerous invasions have been the major factor in the dispersion of the Tajik to other locations. Many Tajik have crossed over into Afghanistan and are still surrounded by war, ethnic violence, religious tension, and harsh living conditions.
After the breakup of the USSR, Tajikistan suffered through years of a civil war which ended in 1997. However, tens of thousands had been killed and thousands of wives widowed. The economy collapsed, and unemployment was extremely high, up to 70 percent in some rural areas. Some of them moved to other countries with a strong economy like Finland.
Where are they located? The majority of the Tajiks live in either Tajikistan or Afghanistan. Some have migrated to Uzbekistan, Pakistan or Russia. A smaller number live in European countries like Finland.
What are their lives like? Some came to European countries as students, but most came to find asylum from an intolerable political situation. Some suffer from suicidal thoughts and depression, all the while trying to learn a different language and get a job.
What are their beliefs? Nestorian missionaries first brought Christianity to the Tajiks during the 12th century. Today, Tajiks are Sunni Muslims, although some are Shi'ites. About one-tenth of the people are classified as non-religious. This has probably been a result of Russian atheistic pressure.
Tajiks tend to be spiritual people and are often open to at least a discussion of spiritual things. They understand the concept of sacrifice, which could be a redemptive analogy to the Lamb of God dying on the cross. However, almost all remain closed to the gospel.
What are their needs? Tajiks need to see examples of people living for Christ in a victorious way.
Prayer Points * Pray that the Tajik would not judge Christianity just as a "Russian religion," but see their own need for salvation.
* Pray for an end to the persecution of believers by Muslim relatives who believe Christians betray their ancestors.
* Ask God to raise up long-term missionaries who will go to Finland and share Christ with the Tajik.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Muslims in Finland.