Introduction / History The life of a shepherd has never been easy. In ancient times, we read of the shepherd boy David, who fought against wild animals to save his flock. For centuries, the historically-Muslim Balkar people have lived in the highlands of the Caucasus Mountains (southern Russia) in the province of Kabardino-Balkaria, shepherding their flocks and their livestock. This livelihood is passed from father to son, beginning at a very young age. It's never-ending, strenuous work. Expanding their property to accommodate increased herds is something shepherds strive for, since a man's fortune is ranked by the number of cattle or sheep he owns. Pray that the Shepherd of souls would reveal Himself to them, and that they would receive the guidance of the Good Shepherd in their lives.
The Balkar originally lived in homes made of mud and wood. Today, their houses are built with brick or stone and have tile or slate roofs. The homes usually have two stories and most have porches. Pray that they would build their spiritual homes on a solid foundation (Mt.7:24-27) that never fails.
What are their lives like? The Balkar people are traditionally mountain-dwellers, but the scarcity of usable land has forced many to move to the capital city, Nalchik, and further, to Moscow, in order to gain education and jobs.
The New Testament has been translated into the Balkar language. Additional evangelistic tools, such as the Jesus film, the Magdelena film, and Balkar Worship Music, are available to the Balkar people.
The Balkars -- a Turkic-speaking people whose ethno-genesis remains unclear -- currently constitute approximately 10 percent of the total 786,200 population of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic in southern Russia; Kabardians account for 50 percent and Russians some 32 percent.
What are their beliefs? There is a small group of believers among the Balkar people. In 1957 Ibrahim became the first Balkar believer. He found Jesus while living in a foreign land under the deportation of Stalin. It would be another 32 years until another Balkarian would come into the Shepherd's fold--in 1989--and a third became a follower of Jesus in 1991 as the Iron Curtain of the Soviet Union was torn down. The small group of Christians struggles to develop Christian practices in a culture where every aspect of life, from birth, to marriage, to death, is governed by folk-Islamic and Balkar traditions. Pray that they would discern the freedom of Christ in their worship and in their communal relationships.
Several adolescents have prayed to receive Christ at summer camp, but have no ongoing Christian influence in their lives, so pray that the Holy Spirit will continue to nurture them.
Prayer Points * Ask the Lord to send loving Russian Christians to minister Life to their Muslim neighbors. Matthew 9:36-38
* Pray that the Holy Spirit will soften the hearts of the Balkarian people toward the Gospel. Hosea 10:12
* Ask God to call forth teams of intercessors who will rise up and faithfully stand in the gap for the Balkar. Luke 18:1-8
* Pray for the salvation of key Balkar leaders who will boldly proclaim the Gospel. Acts 4:13