Russia (MNN) – Russia has been considered a fertile ground for ISIS recruiters for some time now, specifically in the small area of Chechnya. The DW shared that the region has helped make Russia one of the top places for ISIS recruitment.
Chechnya, located in Southern Russia nestled between the Black and Caspian Seas, lies near the borders of Turkey and Iran.
“Chechnya is one of the republics within the Russian Caucasus that tends to be Muslim-dominated. In those regions, there is a very strong Islamic contention there, and if you remember, back in the ‘90s there was quite a bit of bloodshed there,” Slavic Gospel Association’s Joel Griffith explains.
“There was a war that was fought between Chechnya and separatists and the Russian government. So, it is sort of a hotbed.”
(Map courtesy of SGA)
Between the violence in the region and the mix of religions, the Russian government along with the republics which exist in this region have been concerned about the potential and danger of radical activity.
Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, is a former fighter who now works to try and keep extremist recruitments in Chechnya at bay.
A Recruiter’s Edge
The Russian government poured resources into the area and helped rebuild it after the war, giving the people more opportunities than what was available during the ‘90s. However, despite the government’s best efforts, high unemployment rates and a lack of hope persists.
Along with the demographics of the area, many terror researchers believe this is why Chechens continue to be drawn to join ISIS. But Griffith has a different take.
“Any time that you have basically false religions engaged, you know you’re going to have a spiritual component to that and that just has to be recognized. And if you have that sort of a trigger going on, somebody’s going to be attracted by an ideology. And that ideology, you know the people like the Islamic State, they’re able to take those social ills and leverage that to employ the radical ideology in the mindset of the younger people there.”
Officially, at least 800 Chechens have left to fight for ISIS. However, the actual number is expected to be much higher. But while the situation in Chechnya may seem like a lost battle, there’s still hope through the Gospel.
Churches in Chechnya have faced challenges in the area for years, but they’ve learned to quietly do their work and share the Gospel by following two commandments; loving God and loving people.
“That’s ultimately, in the end, if you can get the Gospel into these regions and if you have people with the Gospel and the Holy Spirit inside, living out a Christian witness day by day, showing the love of Jesus Christ and then offering the hope and the transformed life that’s possible through the Gospel, that’s how the churches combat this sort of thing,” Joel shares.
(Photo Courtesy of SGA via Facebook)
“As more and more people hear the Gospel and are drawn more and more by the Holy Spirit to receive Christ as their savior, then that in and of itself will help secure a change in those regions. But it’s a long, difficult ministry over time.”
SGA comes alongside churches in Chechnya the same way they do with the other churches they serve by helping provide them with the resources they need.
So please, pray for this door for SGA to work with these churches to remain open. Pray for the protection and security of these churches and church workers as they share the Gospel as well as freedom for the church in sharing the Gospel. And, pray that as people see Christ’s love in action, that their hearts would open to the Gospel.
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