Introduction / History Dargin (aka, Dargwa) communities, traditionally strong in trading and commerce, have maintained their ancient family structures, village assemblies, and councils of elders. Though their economy is predominantly agricultural, the Dargins have developed rudimentary production and crafts such as carving, stone-working, tanning, and metal-working to support farming and livestock-raising.
Where are they located? Many Dargin people have migrated down from the more than 110 Dargin villages and towns in the Caucasus Mountains to lowland urban regions in Dagestan near the Caspian Sea, and into nearby Azerbaijan and other former Soviet republics.
Most of the Dargin people live in Russia's Dagestan region near Azerbaijan. Others live in Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, and other Central Asian nations.
What are their lives like? The Dargin come from a powerful ethnic tradition—indeed the very name 'Dargwa' means "strong, free communities." However, bondage to superstition, violent power struggles, pervasive male drunkenness, and other endemic forms of human sin, leave this proud collection of peoples far from free. Present-day Dagestan is beset by increasing cycles of violence which squelches trade, tourism, and economic well-being. In many urban enclaves Dargin traditions remain strong; but they are weaker in urban settings where they have more contact with other ethnic groups.
What are their beliefs? Sunni Islam first arrived in the Dargwa region of Dagestan by the 8th Century, and became firmly established as the official religion by the 14th Century. Local Islam is ruled by the jamaat, the council of elders in each village.
The Islam of the Dargins, though, has a strongly syncretistic nature, with a substantial heritage of pre-Islamic beliefs given folk Islamic form. The agricultural calendar and ceremonies and household and family rites have retained many elements of their original animism--practices for warding off evil and other forms of magic. Pre-Islamic traditions are reflected in the rite of the first furrow--the most important and ceremonially richest Dargin rite—also in the rites for causing and stopping rain, calling out the sun, veneration of sacred trees, and shrines of deceased holy men.
There are now over 40 Dargin followers of Jesus in Dagestan. Since 2007 Matthew, Mark, and Luke have been published in Dargin—John, Acts, and Revelation are nearly ready, with the goal the entire New Testament in the next decade. This incarnational work of the gospel in the Dargin world is crucial.
What are their needs? The Dargin people need a supernatural understanding of why they need the grace and mercy of an all-powerful Savior. Someone needs to get the available Bible portions to them.
Prayer Points * Pray for true spiritual freedom for the Dargin people.
* Pray for men and women of peace in each of the Dargin towns and villages. Pray that they will be keys to welcoming the love of God, the grace of Jesus, and the power of the Holy Spirit into each Dargin community in the years ahead.
* Thank God for the new believers among the Dargin—Pray for their number to continually increase until there is a powerful church planting movement.
* Pray for dreams and visions among open-hearted Dargin, both young and old.
* Pray for God's Word to bless many Dargin lives. * Pray for completion of Bible translation in this people group's primary language.