Introduction / History The Tajiks of Central Asia are the oldest surviving people group in that region. The Tajiks have repeatedly been invaded and conquered throughout their history. The armies of Alexander the Great, the Arabs, 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.
After the USSR dissolved in the early 1990s, Muslim Tajiks fled their homeland of Tajikistan when the country was in transition. Many were well-educated and participated in public service and business. They swam or took precarious little boats across the Amu Darya River to Afghanistan, which was already ravaged by war. Since then, the Tajiks have realized that Afghanistan cannot be their new home, and now many of them are on the move again. Neighboring Pakistan and Iran are in no position to accept refugees, and these countries are deporting those who make it across their borders. Now many Tajiks are making the perilous journey across Iran, Turkey, and the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. One Afghan president said that these migrants believe that the streets of Europe are "paved with gold."
Where are they located? Most likely, the Tajik refugees are living in Italy's urban centers.
What are their lives like? Though the Tajiks in Italy are out of harm's way, they must start all over in a place where nothing is familiar. First they need to learn the local language. This barrier often restricts people who received a good education in the old country to menial jobs. It can be a very stressful situation that drives some to depression.
What are their beliefs? Nestorian missionaries first brought Christianity to the Tajiks during the 12th century. Today, Tajiks are Sunni Muslims of the Hanafite branch, although some Shi'ites exist. 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? Tajik refugees need a safe place to raise their families, get education for their children, and find employment. They also need to be able to hear that Jesus Christ came to earth to save sinners.
Prayer Points * Pray for these Sunni Muslims to meet followers of Christ in Italy who can share the good news of a future city paved with gold, a heaven which can be their permanent home, a home where they will live in the presence of the loving Lord Jesus.
* Pray that the Holy Spirit will give vision for outreach and a genuine burden for the Tajik to believers in Europe.
* Pray that God will call out prayer teams to begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
* Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Tajiks that will spread into other countries in Europe.