Lak in Ukraine

Map Source:  Bethany World Prayer Center
People Name: Lak
Country: Ukraine
10/40 Window: No
Population: 800
World Population: 176,200
Primary Language: Lak
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Caucasus
Affinity Bloc: Eurasian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Lak are a Muslim, Northern Caucasian people who primarily live in the Republic of Dagestan in the Russian Federation. A small group of Laks came to live in Ukraine. It is unknown how many Laks are still in Ukraine after the February 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.

The Lak were one of the first of all Dagestani peoples to convert to Islam in the 8th Century, and for many centuries their mountain central town of Kumukh was a center of Islamic learning.

There is a proverb which states when God created the world, he had many languages left over. He then poured all these extra languages on the Caucasus Mountains. Dozens of languages are spoken in this relatively small area. During WWII, the Red Army came to Dagestan and forcibly removed the Laks from their ancient homeland. The Laks had to move hundreds of kilometers to the northwest. After the war, most Laks returned to their homes in Dagestan. The Soviet government encouraged atheism and for the Lak to abandon their Muslim beliefs and practices. For the most part, the Laks resisted this change.

The Laks speak their own language of Lak with their families. Schools and business in Ukraine are often conducted in Russian or Ukrainian.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The traditional occupations of the Laks are agriculture and animal husbandry. The Laks still raise wheat, olives, grapes, maize, and vegetables in the lands that surround their villages. Men still take care of sheep, goats and cattle. In the hot summers, the shepherds take the animals into the high mountain valleys. In the winter, the men drive the animals to the lower valleys and plains. Some Lak young people are moving to the cities to work in factories, construction and retail. Better educational and economic opportunities are available in urban areas. Some Laks have taken advantage of the free education system and have become professionals.

Laks tend to marry among themselves. They have larger families as children are seen as Allah’s blessing. Urban Laks often marry outside their group.

The Laks have traditional clothing that they wear on their holidays. They also sing, recite poetry, dance, and eat special foods. The Laks are trying to conserve their culture, customs and language in a modern, rapidly changing world.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Almost all Lak are Sunni Muslim. Being a Muslim is part of their personal identity. Sunni Muslims believe that the supreme God, Allah, spoke through his prophet, Mohammed, and taught mankind how to live a righteous life through the Koran and the Hadith. To live a righteous life, you must utter the Shahada (a statement of faith), pray five times a day facing Mecca, fast from sunup to sundown during the month of Ramadan, give alms to the poor, and make a pilgrimage to Mecca if you have the means. Muslims are prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, slandering, and making idols. They gather for corporate prayer on Friday afternoons at a mosque, their place of worship.

The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah.

Sunni religious practices are staid and simple. They believe that Allah has pre-determined our fates; they minimize free will.

Only a tiny number of followers of Christ are found in the Lak community of Ukraine.

What Are Their Needs?

The Lak people need to put their hope and trust in Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and grant them eternal life.

Prayer Points

Pray for the few Lak believers to shine as bright lights in the midst of their families and clans.

Pray for encouragement and success for a Lak Bible Translation Team.

Ask the Lord to send workers to the Lak people in Ukraine.

Pray that the Lord raised up a growing church movement among the Laks of Ukraine.

Pray for a just and lasting peace in Ukraine.

Text Source:   Joshua Project