8 June 2017 / Day 13
Kyrgyzstan: A Nation of Mountains
Kyrgyzstan was a republic of the former Soviet Union until it gained independence in 1991. It is the only parliamentarian republic in the region. This mountainous country (the highest peak is 7439 meters) is home to approximately 6 million people and 75% of the population are Sunni Muslims. The practice of Islam was quite shallow under Soviet rule but has steadily strengthened over the last 25 years.
Due to a difficult economic situation in the country, many people have been forced to earn money abroad, often under very difficult circumstances: 16 young Kyrgyz women were killed in a Moscow warehouse fire in August 2016, for example. Children left behind are often looked after by grandparents or other relatives; some are even sent to orphanages so their parents can go to work. Though their everyday needs are provided for, many children grow up with the feeling of being abandoned and unloved because of separation from their families.
Mothers of sons play a very large role in Kyrgyz family structure, controlling everything. Daughters-in-law are often treated like slaves. If they don’t become pregnant during the first two years of marriage, the husband is often forced by his mother to dismiss his wife and marry another woman.
In addition, bride kidnapping is still very common, particularly in rural areas. Young women might be kidnapped and forced to marry a stranger. Many Kyrgyz wives in desperate situation believe that suicide is their only way out.
The first Kyrgyz house groups and churches were planted in the 1990s and began teaching Christian principles for family life, of love and service to one another. However, it is very difficult for believers to profess their faith in Christ within traditionally close family structures – they often face hostility and are ostracized by their family or friends.
How to Pray
- For the economic situation to improve so that families don’t have to choose between living together and providing financially.
- For mothers of sons to use their influence to encourage their sons to build loving marriages and do what is best for their daughters-in-law.
- For Christian families to challenge cultural expectations and demonstrate family relationships characterized by love and serving one another.