Introduction / History
The powerfully-built, broad-shouldered Andi man murmured out loud, “I’m not as tough as my brothers and uncles—I haven’t yet killed a man with my bare hands.” This middle-aged Andi man looked tough enough. He is renowned in his circles for his hard-nosed life and his many wives. The Andi, numbering at least 40,000 in Dagestan, are a mountain people hailing from high mountain villages up next to the western border with Chechnya. The men of the Andi region would resonate with Lamech in Genesis 4—“For I have killed a man for wounding me, and a boy for striking me; if Cain is avenged sevenfold, then Lamech seventy-sevenfold.”
There are great historic strengths in the Andi people—remarkable elements of culture and beauty—but mercy and grace are not in the list of those strengths. ‘Blood vengeance’ is one of the enshrined values, and cycles of violence have continued to ferment on many levels through the generations.
This story, however, continues with an astonishing twist. One of the sons of this very same Andi man—we’ll call the son Aslan*--encountered the far-greater power of the Holy Spirit. “What surprised me most...was the amazing love of God.” “And when I understood that God is my Father, I received much joy!” Aslan is the 1st follower of Jesus among the Andi people. Aslan represents the hope of a powerful life-giving strength that is far greater than the old fleshly way of vengeance and violence. (I John 4:4) *--Name Changed
The Andi, speaking their own distinct Andi language, live in 12 major villages in their mountain region and also in some Andi enclaves in lowland urban regions of Dagestan. Add into the Andi mix a rigorous Sunni Muslim identity—Islam has been dominant among the Andi for at least 600 years. There are rich elements in Muslim culture, such as strong emphasis on family and hospitality; but Islam has not helped with the crying need for forgiveness and mercy and grace, or an end to cycles of violence.
Where are they Located?
Names of Andi villages: Gagatli, Tsibilta, Rikhvani, Chanko, A-shali, Sheevor, Gun-kha, Rushukha, Andi, Muni, Zeelo and Kvan-khidatl
* Pray Eph.3:18-20 for the Andi: “...that you may know the breadth and length and height and depth of the love of Christ, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God—for God is able to do exceeding abundantly beyond all that we can ask or think, according to His power that works within us.”
* Pray for Aslan and his family in relationships with Andi relatives and acquaintances—the radiance of the Fruit of the Spirit does shine through him and may many be drawn to the light.
* Pray for divine grace on the fledgling beginning of Bible translation in the Andi language – the Gospel of Luke in Andi is nearly finished and hopefully will be published in 2014.
* Pray for the Sermon on the Mount in Luke 6 to pour into Andi culture.
* Pray for many Andi to see the superiority of the Fruit of the Spirit to the old ways of vengeance.
* Pray for new heroes among the Andi to realize that real strength is not in “being overcome by evil” but in the Spirit of Jesus “overcoming evil with good.”
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