Reviews - What do customers think about Great Trek of the Russian Mennonites to Central Asia 1880-1884?
A scholarly look at the migration to Central Asia Feb 23, 2009
Fred Belk's seminal work on the Great Trek is not to be missed. His research documents an unique episode in the history of Muslim-Christian relations, Mennonite history, and End Times movements.
In the 1880's, Mennonite families in South Russia sold their prosperous estates and joined a migration to what is now Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan. They were driven by hopes that the Second Coming would occur in Central Asia, and by the loss of their exemption from military service. Abraham Peters and Claas Epp, Jr. are the two key leaders of the migration. Belk outlines the extreme hardship encountered by the families as they journeyed from Russia into some of the harshest deserts on the planet. He also reveals enlightening encounters between Mennonites and Muslims in the khanates beyond Russia's frontier.
Many of those who joined Epp and Peters on the Great Trek eventually migrated to the United States and Canada. Belk's book opened the eyes of many descendants to a history that was often suppressed in their own communities. The conversation that he launched continues in the Mennonite community and among those concerned with the state of Muslim-Christian relations.
A more recent book, Pilgrims on the Silk Road: A Muslim-Christian Encounter in Khiva follows up on Belk's research with new information about the community founded in Khiva. Pilgrims on the Silk Road: A Muslim-Christian Encounter in Khiva also offers new insights into the root causes of the migration, and tells how the community formed close relationships with their Muslim neighbors.
Another good companion to this book is the documentary Through the Desert Goes Our Journey. In the documentary, Belk and other historians describe the significance of the Great Trek. Descendants describe how the episode is being transformed from a cautionary tale of End Times fervor to a positive example for those living in today's society.Through the Desert Goes Our Journey is available on this site or via the web site [...].