“To be a Kazakh is to be a Muslim” – but theirs is a folk Islam strongly influenced by shamanistic practices. Other Muslim countries (Saudi Arabia, Iran, Turkey, Pakistan) invest huge amounts of money to send Muslim missionaries – some are effective even in converting Russians to Islam. The number of registered mosques grew from 46 in 1989 to 1,282 in 2002 (quite apart from many unregistered ones). Traditional Islam is on the rise, even trendy in some sectors, despite the government actively opposing radical Islam. Orthodox Christianity is perceived as the religion of Russians, and evangelicals are often regarded as dangerous sects. Pray for this misconception to be broken; pray for freedom from historic spiritual bondages and prejudices.
Russians and Ukrainians – from the early 1990s onward – have emigrated back to their ancestral homeland in large numbers. Most who remain are non-religious or Orthodox with German Catholics and Lutherans as well. The Orthodox Church increasingly aligns itself with Muslims, seeking to cement its own religious status at the expense of newer religious groups. Pray for renewal among the Orthodox. Many Russians are impacted by the fast-growing evangelical/charismatic/Pentecostal churches, much more so than Kazakhs.