Prayer Profile
Kazak of China

[IMAGE] The majority of China's Kazaks live in the Xinjiang province, which is located in the far northwestern region of the country. Others live in the Gansu and Qinghai provinces of north central China. Although they have lived in China for centuries, many still do not speak Chinese and refuse to assume the Chinese way of life. They are a proud people who have held firmly to their own cultural distinctions.

The Kazaks are of Turkic descent. They are thought to be the offspring of one fierce horseman known for terrorizing travelers on the Silk Road, a major trade route stretching from China to India. They became a distinct people in the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. During the Russian Civil War of the 1920's and 1930's, approximately half of their population was killed. Due to wars and political boundaries formed in the twentieth century, the Kazaks found themselves dispersed in many countries. Despite being scattered, they have preserved their language and culture.

What are their lives like?
The Kazaks are nomads who migrate seasonally in search of pasture. During the summer months, they live in round tents called yurts. Yurts are made by stretching pieces of felt over wooden frames. These tents are very portable, making them suitable to a nomadic lifestyle. In the winter months, they live in adobe (concrete block) houses.

Kazaks have Mongolian features, black hair, rough complexions, and medium frames. They are generally short-tempered and find it easy to move on in difficult times. Their clothing is made from felt and sheepskins.

They typically eat meat and milk products from their herds, along with some vegetables. Since Xinjiang is one of China's principal fruit growing areas, they also enjoy a variety of fruits such as grapes, melons, and apples. One favorite drink, called kumyss, is a wine made from fermented mare's or horse's milk.

Their livestock includes sheep, goats, and some cattle. Many also have horses, but only for prestige. To the Kazaks, horses represent the key to freedom. Even their economy and wealth are based on the number of horses they own. When a young couple marries, the "bride price" is often paid in horses. This custom is reflected in the words of a favorite quotation which says, "A beautiful maiden is worth 80 fine horses."

The Kazaks usually live as "extended families." These include the parents, the married sons and their families, and the remaining unmarried children.

What are their beliefs?
The Kazaks embraced Islam during the sixteenth century and still consider themselves Muslim today. In reality, however, they are the least Islamic of the Central Asia Turks. Their Islamic practices have been combined with traditional folk rituals.

Essentially, the Kazaks are Islamic animists, still engaging in ancestor worship and other such practices. ("Animism" is the belief that non-human objects have spirits. "Ancestor worship" involves praying and offering sacrifices to deceased ancestors.) They also consult shamans (priests who cure the sick by magic, communicate with the gods, and control events) for both religious and political reasons.

What are their needs?
Though several mission agencies have targeted the Kazaks of China, they have remained stubborn defenders of their beliefs. This has made progress among them very slow and difficult. Currently, there is no known church among them, and only the New Testament has been translated into their language. The Kazaks are in desperate need of laborers who will live among them and demonstrate the love of God towards them. Unless they see Christianity lived out, they will never understand that true peace is found in Christ alone.

Perhaps the greatest obstacle keeping us from reaching them is the government's unwillingness to open its doors to missionaries. Intercessors are needed to stand in the gap for these precious people. Only prayer can break the strongholds of Islam and animism that are keeping them bound.

Prayer Points

  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Kazaks bound.
  • Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers into China.
  • Ask God to raise up loving Chinese Christians who will share Christ with the Kazaks.
  • Pray that the doors of China will soon open to missionaries.
  • Ask God to begin revealing Himself to the Kazaks through dreams, visions, and divine revelations.
  • Pray that God will send Christian medical teams to work among the Kazaks.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Kazaks toward Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will open the hearts of China's governmental leaders to the Gospel.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up a strong local church among the Kazaks by the year 2000.

See also the following Kazak Groups:
the Kazak of; Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and Mongolia.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Kazak
  • Country: China
  • Their language: hasake (kazak)
  • Population: (1990) 1,113,000
    (1995) 1,176,600
    (2000) 1,237,700
  • Largest religion: Muslims (Hanafites) 99%
  • Christians: 0%
  • Church members: None
  • Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 9
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 317,700 (27%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 0
    Those evangelized from the outside: 317,700 (27%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 858,900 (73%)
  • Country: China
  • Population: (1990) 1,135,043,400
    (1995) 1,199,901,200
    (2000) 1,262,195,800
  • Major peoples in size order: Han Chinese (Mandarin) 67.7%
    Han Chinese (Wu) 7.5%
    Han Chinese (Cantonese) 4.5%
  • Major religions: Nonreligious 55%
    Chinese folk-religionists 17%
    Atheists 12.7%
  • Number of denominations: 42

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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