Why pray for Tatarstan? To be Tatar, is to be Muslim
Learn how to best pray for Tatarstan – a republic located in the very centre of the Russian Federation
Read about several big obstacles to accepting Christianity, yet how Tatars are following Christ, especially amongst the youth
Understand the real need for workers amongst the over 4000 villages, and for lay workers to support over-stretched pastors
Last updated; 15 July 2021
Why pray for Tatarstan? Big obstacles to accepting Christianity
The Republic of Tatarstan is situated in the centre of the Russian Federation on the East-European Plain at the confluence of the two greatest rivers – the Volga and the Kama. In winter it is possible to walk across the frozen rivers and meet those who have bored holes in the ice in order to fish. In the summer the river beaches bask in Mediterranean temperatures.
While Tatars identify as Muslim – as is the case in most of Central Asia – and it is strongly promoted by the Republic’s leaders, many are nominal in practice, despite the prolific increase of mosques over the last two decades. However, the identification with Islam as being the Tatar religion is still a major stronghold. Hence, the real need to pray for Tatarstan.
Tatars consider Christianity to be the Russian religion
Not only has Christianity been misrepresented to them by the Russian Orthodox Church (another stronghold), the bad experiences with Christianity (Ivan the Terrible ordered forced conversions) is still in their collective memory.
They consider Islam to be the Tatar religion, regardless of whether they practice it or not. In addition, many have an atheistic worldview with materialism, secularism and relativism gaining momentum among the youth.
Why pray for Tatarstan?
It is viewed as the regional leader
It is viewed as the regional leader
There are roughly 0.1% evangelical Christians in Tatarstan with only about 0.01% ethnic Tatar believers. A Gospel breakthrough for the Tatars would be of strategic importance, as the surrounding republics look up to Tatarstan as the regional leader.
Many Tatars and Russians intermarry resulting in a truly bi-cultural people. This creates a dilemma for the churches in trying to both evangelize and disciple the Tatar people who are still culturally distinct and can’t be evangelised using the same methods used for evangelisation among Russians.
Tatarstan has a flat and stable landscape of 26,255 sq miles. The highest point is only 381 metres above sea level with most of the land below 200 metres. Geologically it sits on a deep-seated platform of stable crystalline rock – there is no fear of earthquakes in Tatarstan! Yet at depth there are vast reserves of oil and on the surface huge water resources.
The history of the land and people is rich, complex and compelling.
Tatarstan is a sovereign state in a treaty association with the Russian Federation.
The capital city, Kazan, is a large industrial, academic and cultural centre. 1.6m people live in Kazan where the majority of the population is Russian and nominally Orthodox. However, Tatarstan is largely rural with 4,200 villages and several large towns. In the villages the people are mainly Tatar and Muslim.
Ever increasing prices trouble all families but it is possible to rise above these elements and engage in sport, the arts, church, cultural events and family celebrations. In Kazan, an ideal day out might even be a visit to the vast IKEA shopping mall with its play areas, shops and restaurants. While some long for the ‘best of the west’, others want to uphold old ways and traditions. The Tatars have kept alive traditions of craftsmanship in wood, ceramics, leather and cloth.
Pray for Tatarstan at a glance:
- Population: 3.9 million
- Area: 26,255 sq miles
- Capital: Kazan
- Languages: Tatar, Russian
- Currency: Russian Ruble
- Religion: Muslim, Russian Orthodox
- Believers: 3800 evangelical Christians, 380 Ethnic Tatars (0.01%)