21 Dec 2008
On a clear day, smoke stacks can be seen pumping soot, ash, sulfur and other chemicals into the blue sky above the city known as “Iron Mountain” or, in the Kazakh language, “Temirtau”.
It is iron that defines this city, its people and its purpose. The first iron smelter was put into operation in 1944. The following year the town name was changed from Samarkand to its current name and granted city status.
Rich mineral deposits in the nearby hills have always been part of the100-year history of this city. But it was the coalmines that provided fuel for the large electric power generating plant, which became operational in 1942. Continued development of the coal mines, massive coke producing ovens for steel production, and the metallurgical industry fueled the growth of this city and today the population is about 180,000.
Most of the city still strongly mirrors that of its Soviet roots with row upon row of drab concrete apartment buildings. Laundry hangs out to dry from balconies even though it will acquire the smell of coal smoke. The aging electric trams, nearly always full of passengers, are mostly gone. New imported automobiles have replaced much of the old public transportation.
Temirtau has a unique distinction. … It was once the home of the current president of the Republic. President Nazarbayev had his first job in the factories of the city. This provided him with immeasurable insight into the inefficient and harsh working conditions under Soviet rule.
The family village for orphans is one of the "Children's Villages of Kazakhstan", which has been set up by Sarah Nazarbayev, wife of the president.
Yes, … on a clear day the skies are always cloudy but they do indeed have a silver lining. They represent a vibrant industry fueling the growth of the Republic of Kazakhstan and giving the residents good jobs.
Those living here represent a wide variety of ethnic backgrounds and are from all social, economic and age levels. They live and work within the shadows of the billowing smoke. This is their way of life … passed on from generation to generation.
After independence, freedom of religion was provided by the new constitution; however, the belief system of the country conforms to ethnic backgrounds. About half of the people are Russian and, therefore, Orthodox … most of the others are Kazakh and, consequently, Muslim … very few are evangelical Christians.
Starting evangelical churches has been very difficult. However, there are a few believers who meet regularly in a home where they worship God in music and Bible study.
Overlay: Pray for growth of house churches in Temirtau
Overlay: Pray for funding for small churches
Will you pray that more residents of Temirtau will look through the clouds of past Soviet domination, their traditions and ethnicity and see Jesus clearly? Pray that they follow Him as Lord and Savior.
Pray that parents and grandparents will come to Him and find a refuge, … young people will experience the security found in Jesus, young parents will know and show God’s love to their children and children will have His peace.
Will you pray?
Will you go and share Jesus?
But to all who believed Him and accepted Him,
He gave the right to become children of God.
John 1:12 NLT
Closing scene overview of city and homes:
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