in greater st. louis
In the 1990s, Bosniaks transformed the run-down neighborhood of Bevo Mill into the largest concentration of Bosniaks outside of Bosnia. At its height, 70,000 Bosniaks lived in Greater St. Louis, almost completely concentrated in the southwest section of the city. Previously abondoned and crime-ridden streets sprang to life with restaurants serving burek (savory stuffed phyllo dough pies), mosques that doubled as community centers, and thriving businesses. Over the last few decades, Bosniaks have been integrated into, and influenced, the culture of St. Louis.
The Disintegration of the Ethnic Enclave
The first arrivals of war-weary Bosniaks thrived as a community because of their cohesiveness. Their common plight and dependence on each other to survive and build new lives created one of the most dynamic ethnic enclaves in America. The enclave helped Bosniak refugees integrate into American life while also revitalizing a dilapidated St. Louis neighborhood. As the sons and daughters of Bosniak immigrants have entered adulthood, however, they are beginning to move to the suburbs for better schools and housing. While a new concentration of Bosniaks has developed southwest of the city in Lemay and Mehlville, the overall population of Bosniaks in Greater St. Louis has dwindled to an estimated population of 50,000. Even though their population is in decline, the St. Louis Bosniak population is still considered the heart of the Bosniak population in North America.
- Bosniaks have been a boon for soccer in St. Louis, and several St. Louis Bosniaks have moved on to professional careers in Europe and the United States.
- A replica of a famous Sarajevo sebilj, a public fountain made of wood and stone, was dedicated to the city by Bosniaks in 2013.
- A multi-million dollar Bosnian Cultural Center is planned to be built adjacent to the Bosnian Islamic Center of St. Louis. The Cultural Center will include a gym, a museum depicting the Bosnian genocide, and classrooms to teach the Bosnian language and Islam.
- Up to one-half of Greater St. Louis’s Muslim population are Bosniak.
Even though many Bosniaks drink alcohol and ignore some pillars of Islam, St. Louis mosques play a prominent role in the Bosniak community. There are several Bosniak mosques in Greater St. Louis, and up to half of the Greater St. Louis Muslim population is Bosniak. Some of the more prominent mosques include the Bosnian Islamic Center of St. Louis, the St. Louis Islamic Center, and the Islamic Community Center (Madina Masjid). There is more ministry activity among Bosniaks in Greater St. Louis than any other Bosniak population in North America, but there are still no Bosniak churches and little to no followers of Christ.
Unreached people groups can also be viewed as "hidden" people groups (i.e., they are largely unnoticed and unaffected by the global Body of Christ). In the prayer gallery section below, as well as through the Google Earth prayerwalk tool, you can visualize these hidden people group communities. By doing so, we pray God gives you insight into how to pray through what you see. By scrolling through major points of interest in the prayer gallery section, pray for people you see, and pray that the peace and hope of Jesus will become known to people who frequent these places. Through the Google Earth prayerwalk tool linked at the bottom of the page, you can virtually prayerwalk through the community, praying "on site with insight." You could also take the route and points of interest from that tool and save them to your "Google Maps" to prayerwalk in person. Allow the following three steps to guide your prayers using these tools, and try prayerwalking with another person or small group! God hears the voice of His people, and He responds to our prayers!
Praise God for who He is. Thank Him for His blessings and salvation that is extended to all peoples. Praise and thank Him for appointing the time and boundaries of this people group's presence in North America so that they might seek Him and find Him (Acts 17:26). Pray Scriptures that come to mind about His glory being made known among all peoples and nations (e.g., Rev 7:9-10).
Luke 10:2 says “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest." Pray for God's laborers to share Christ's love through hospitality to this people group. Pray for laborers among this community to establish loving relationships and proclaim the gospel. Pray for Christians to emerge from within this people group who will reach their friends and family members.
Most members of unreached people group communities remain unreached because they have failed to hear the gospel in ways they can understand. Others have heard the gospel but have many barriers to overcome before receiving the gospel. Pray that this community will understand the gospel. Pray for God to draw them to Jesus and remove the barriers that keep them from salvation in Christ.
Bosnian Islamic Center of St. Louis and Bosnian Cultural Center
One of the most influential Bosniak mosques in North America. A Bosnian Cultural Center is in plans to be built in an adjacent property. This mosque is located on Lemay Ferry Road, a major commercial district for Bosniaks who have moved to the suburbs.
Visit this page to learn general information about Bosniak communities in North America and their religious beliefs. Also, discover resources to help share Jesus with them in their language.
Prayerwalk through some of the main Bosniak restaurants, places of worship, and businesses in St. Louis using a tool we developed in Google Earth. You could also do a prayerwalk in person using the same points of interest.