|Republic of Tajikistan|
Area 143,100 sq.km. The southernmost republic of the former USSR bordering on Afghanistan, China, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. The Pamir and Tien-Shan Mountains are 93% of the surface area.
Capital Dushanbe 582,400. Urbanites 28%.
Civil war caused the exodus of the majority of non-indigenous peoples and a great loss of ethnic diversity.
Iranian 69.2%. Tajik 4.1mill; Pamir peoples (6) 78,000; Persian 50,000.
Slav 2.6%. Russian 136,000; Ukrainian 19,000.
Turkic/Altaic 27.2%. Uzbek 1.55mill; Kyrgyz 62,000; Tatar 35,000; Turkmen 19,000.
Literacy 98%. Official language Tajik. All indigenous languages 10. Languages with Scripture 2Bi 3 w.i.p.
Rich in minerals, coal, oil and hydro-electric power, thus far little used. The Soviet collapse and ensuing civil war have damaged much of the economic infrastructure and reduced most of the population to poverty. The cost of the damage is estimated at eighteen times the GNP. Racketeers have muscled in on much of the nationís legitimate economy as well as illegal arms and drugs flowing from Afghanistan. HDI 0.665; 108th/174. Public debt 33.3% of GNP. Income/person $300 (1% of USA) the poorest of the former USSR republics.
The northern portion of the Persian Empire until the 12th Century. Russian colonial rule from the mid-19th Century. In 1929, Stalin abitrarily defined the borders of the Central Asian republics, deliberately creating large ethnic minorities in each to discourage ethnically-motivated insurgency against Moscow. After the Soviet collapse, civil war broke out, pitting ex-Communists against Islamists and secular democrats. With massive Russian support the former prevailed, although a 1997 peace accord was signed by all factions. Multi-party elections in 2000, albeit flawed, were a step forward.
Religious freedom is guaranteed, but fear of radical Islam provides the government with an excuse to watch all religious activity closely. Proselytism is not forbidden, but any activity causing religious tension is quashed.
1 The civil war ended with the signing of a peace accord in 1997, but not before terrible damage was inflicted on the country. Over fifty thousand were killed and as many as one million were displaced. Poverty and extreme hardship is now common. Those under government care, such as prisoners, the aged, and orphans are most at risk. Pray that the peace might take root sporadic violence continues and allow the government to address the economic and social issues which keep people in poverty. Pray for stability that might enable Christians to offer physical and spiritual help.
2 The Christian Church is largely composed of ethnic Europeans, but has been drastically reduced by emigration. During the civil war, those fleeing were almost entirely non-Tajik, and represented much of the countryís skilled labour. Pray that the remaining believers might see their unique opportunity to be witnesses to Tajiks and other unreached peoples. Pray for the establishment of a strong multi-ethnic Christian witness in each city which can then reach out to rural areas.
3 Although 90 percent of citizens profess to be Muslims, only a fraction regularly practice Islamic ritual. Most are more influenced by superstition and Zoroastrian beliefs. Nevertheless, the number of functioning mosques grew in a decade from 18 to 4,000. Islamists have significantly increased their strength in society since the 1997 peace accord granted them participation in the government. Tajikistanís proximity to Iran and Afghanistan makes it all the more vulnerable to Islamism. Pray for extremism to be restrained, and that Muslims might have unprecedented opportunities to discover Christ.
4 Expatriate involvement. Tajikistan, with its great social and spiritual needs, is open for sensitive Christian ministry. There is a network of agencies concerned for Tajikistan, but the civil war discouraged expatriate workers from entering until recently. Pray that the current freedoms for Christians and Christian workers might continue, despite opposition from both anti-religionists and Islamists. Several ministries are now being used of God: relief, development and aid distribution; English, computer and health education; prison ministry and other means. Pray for the calling and entry of more long-term personnel. Pray for ethnically related Iranians to become witnesses. They could have a unique role to play in winning Tajiks to Jesus.
5 Tajiks number 10 to 11 million in Central Asia. For nearly a thousand years, there was no significant outreach to Tajiks. Now, in addition to the hundreds of believers in Tajikistan, there are a further 1,000+ in neighbouring countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan. Pray for this growth to increase, and pray for the establishment of an indigenous Tajik Church free from undue Russian or Western influences. Pray also for good cooperation among all concerned for the Tajiks.
a) Uzbeks. The Uzbeks lost much in the war, and gained little from the new peace arrangements. They number 1.55 million, yet are neglected by the missions rightly focusing on Tajiks. Pray for Christian workers specifically called to witness to Uzbeks in Tajikistan.
b) The mountain peoples of the Pamirs in the east there are no known Pamiri Christians. In that region live six Muslim peoples of the Ismaili sect the Ishkashimi, Roshani, Bartangi, Shughni, Wakhi and Yazgulyam, who have never been reached.
a) The whole Bible in Tajik (Cyrillic Script) was completed in 1992 (IBT). Thousands of New Testaments, Gospels, and tracts are being brought into the country; pray for their effective distribution. GRN has materials in seven languages.
c) Christian radio. HCJB and TWR both broadcast in Tajik Ĺ hour/week. Various agencies broadcast in Uzbek a total of three hours/week. There are several more programmes in Farsi and Dari that can be understood, but too few people have short-wave radios to benefit from any of these.
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