Seeds for Fallow Soil
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                       02 Feb 2009


Sheep and goats are still common in the rural areas of Kazakhstan as a lone herdsman cares for animals that once represented the resources of an entire village.  The solitary rider looks after cattle and horses in a similar manner as his herd browses on the feather grass growing in the eastern regions of the steppe. 

A century ago the lifestyle was much different.  90% of the population of Kazakhstan lived off of the land as they traveled from mountains to valleys seeking pasture for their livestock. 

Their home during these travels was the yurt … the ancient mobile home made of animal skins, fur and grass and all supported by a collapsible framework made of long poles tied together.  The top vent, called the shangyrak, held the yurt together and was easy to open and close.  The shangyrak also helped hold the families together as it was handed down through the generations.  Today, the yurt is a symbol of the Kazakh people and is often used for special occasions by those who want to remember the times gone by.  


Pray that the Kazakh people
will look beyond their traditions
 and seek a new life with Jesus  

The airport terminal at Astana is shaped like a yurt with three goddesses looking on.  Inside the terminal, the skylight in the dome shaped roof mimics the shangyrak . 

The wanderings of the nomads is indeed a nostalgic time … but a time that was brutally destroyed by the Soviet Union as the draconian overlords from Moscow demanded more and more agricultural products to supply the populace of the larger cities of Russia. 

Collective farms were set up and large-scale agricultural practices instituted.  Log homes replaced the yurts as people were confined to the collectives.  These farming practices were dictated by those who did not understand the climatic and soil conditions of the steppe.  Thus, … during the 1930’s, … crops failed and animals and people died of starvation.  Silent graveyards chronicle that time for all to see.  The Russian immigrants were buried in the Orthodox Cemetery.  The Muslim Cemetery was for the Kazakhs. 


Many of those who died
during that time were buried
in mass unmarked graves. 

In a like manner, the remnants of the buildings set up for the collective farms are now tombstones … a testimony of the time when dictators exploited this land and its people. 

With the fall of the Soviet Union and Kazakhstan independence in 1991, the agriculture market in Russia dried up. Farm machinery broke down and there was no money to purchase fuel.  Many of the ethnic Russians returned to their homeland and the Kazakhs moved to urban areas looking for work.  Grain storage facilities stood silent and empty. 

Within the first few years of independence, the agricultural output fell by one half.  The Kazakhs did not understand how to work in a free market economy and lacked the skills and the assets necessary to farm large acreages of land.  However, their small kitchen gardens sustained individual families during these early years. 

The apple trees, said to originate in Kazakhstan, were once productive and profitable as the fruit was delivered to Moscow.  The once highly prized Aport Apple … an extremely large fruit … became almost extinct.  But, today the fruit industry is showing signs of new life.  In fields near Almaty, small trees nearing transplant size will be used to make new orchards.  Of course, the bees needed for pollinization  are plentiful.  Along the road, honey is for sale … a testimony to the production of the honeybees in the area.  Here also are a variety of preserved fruit and mushrooms of all sorts.  This is just one of the signs of a growing free enterprise supporting the revived farm economy. 

The new combines rumbling down the road to the next wheat field are another indication of the vitality of the large farms.  Wheat fields now produce sufficient grain to supply the needs of Kazakhstan as well as some for export. 

Small cities such as Makinsk depend on large productive farms but their growth is slow and their future economic outlook is questionable. The old water tower, the public school and most of the buildings remain as holdovers from the past as does the horse drawn wagon.  A new tractor bouncing down the street with a load of junk shares the narrow main street with automobiles, … few of which are new. 

The people living in the rural areas of Kazakhstan suffered a long-lasting path of turmoil, exploitation and neglect.  Rebuilding has been slow.  This is also true of houses of worship.  There are few mosques or Russian Orthodox Churches in the towns and villages. Soviet policies of the past resulted in a land of spiritual emptiness.  The land is fallow but the old seeds of traditions, religious beliefs and animistic practices remain.  The spiritual fields in the rural areas are open for planting.  Few have met someone who knows Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior and, … fewer still … have seen a Bible.  People must go to rural areas, plant the seeds of the Gospel and help bring forth a great harvest of those willing to follow Jesus.  

Will you prayer walk the fields preparing for harvest? … Will you be one of those who will come and work this soil? 

 Scripture Overlay: 

Jesus said, “You know the saying,

‘Four months between planting and harvest.’

But I say, wake up and look around.

The fields are already ripe for harvest.”

John 4:35 NLT


Aport                           ah-PORT

Makinsk                     mah-KINSK

Shangyrak                  shan-goo-RAHK




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