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                       09 Dec 2008


This street in Almaty, Kazakhstan once had the name of “Pravda”.  The old street sign remains but the letters have long since faded.  “Pravda” in the Russian language means “truth”.  Pravda Avenue was so named during the time the former Soviet Union controlled this land and Almaty was the capital of the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.

 During those times, the traffic was much different.  There were fewer automobiles and still fewer foreign imports.  The trams and trolleys … powered by overhead wires, … along with buses were the common modes of transportation. 

 After independence, the name of “Pravda Avenue” was changed to the Kazakh name “Altynsarina.  This change reflected the realization that “Pravda” was part of the Soviet propaganda that seldom represented truth.  Nevertheless, most every one still calls the street by its old name.

 Like much of the rest of the country, the city of Almaty has undergone major changes since independence in 1991.  For the first few years, Almaty remained the capital with offices in the old white marble building; however, across the street in Republic Square an entirely new residence was constructed for the president that he still uses when visiting Almaty.  In 1997, … just 6 years after independence, the new city of Astana, … 600 miles to the north … was formally designated as the capital of the Republic of Kazakhstan.  Even so, Almaty … with a population of one and a half million … has retained its prominence in the Republic as the largest city, as well as the financial, the business, the scientific and the cultural center of the country.

 Fueled by income from energy resources, Almaty is rapidly forging a new path with construction all around.  Whole neighborhoods of homes were torn down to make room for new buildings.  It seems that an effort is being put forth to build-up a modern-looking metropolis out of a crumbling Soviet city.  Large glass enclosed edifices are popular even though earthquakes are a common occurrence. Some are skeptical concerning their structural integrity.  In most places, mismanagement and corruption … as well as insufficient financial backing … halted construction in 2008.  Many of the buildings that are complete have few tenants. 

 On the other hand, religious buildings are better designed.  The Holy Ascension Cathedral withstood the earthquake of 1911 and retains the grandeur of Imperial Russia.  The Central Mosque was recently completed and can be identified from afar by its blue domed minarets.  This huge structure will accommodate 3,000 worshippers.

  The Almaty of today is more open and friendly but, all the same, legacies of the past remain.  In the older neighborhoods, the narrow tree-lined streets are a problem now … although … when they were established, … few of the residents used automobiles. What's more, the balconies of the apartments are still a place to hang laundry.

 Pravda Avenue” is gone but a newspaper by the same name remains.  Hopefully, the truth that can come from greater freedom of the press will grow as this city and country grows and the people will diligently seek the real Truth despite obstacles placed in their path.

Overlay:  Pray that the truth in God’s Word will be heard

Often the fear of repercussions based on political or religious views remains though it is better now than in the past.  The reality of traffic fines, however, has become a growing concern due to the significant increase in automobile ownership.

 Overlay: Pray for the leaders of Kazakhstan

Thank God for the vision of its leaders, which has permitted the people to enjoy a new Kazakhstan and go about their daily activities with greater freedom of speech and of freedom of religion than in the past.

 Overlay:  Pray that the truth in God’s Word will be followed

The people of Almaty understand that renaming a street does not, in itself, change its pathway.  There are those who cling to old habits and a known way of life resisting the uncertainty of a new path.   A number of people … especially the young … fling off the old and embrace the new direction.  Still others of every age want what both offer.  Yet, because of their heritage and culture, ALL find it difficult to choose the pathway leading to real Truth. 



From the fullness of His grace,

we have all received one blessing after another.

 … grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

John 1:16-17


Almaty                                    all-MAH-tee

Altynsarina                             AL-tin-sa-REE-na

Pravda                                    PRAHV-da


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