Introduction / History The Tajiks of Central Asia are the oldest surviving people group in that region. The Tajik 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 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, and eventually to Sweden. One Afghan president said that these migrants believe that the streets of Europe are "paved with gold."
Where are they located? Sweden often relocates asylum seekers to rural areas where there is more vacant land. Afghans, both Pashtun and Tajik, are among those people sent to northern Sweden to live in small factory towns where there is vacant housing.
What are their lives like? It often turns out well for Tajik refugees to be among friendly, rural people who have more time for them. This kind of environment fits them better than the impersonal environment of Sweden's southern cities.
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 there are some Shi'ites. About one-tenth of the people are classified as non-religious. This has probably been a result of Russian atheistic pressure from when they were part of the USSR.
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 Sweden 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 Tajiks to believers in Sweden.
* 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.