Although Turkey is officially a secular state, more than 99 percent of its citizens are Muslim, totaling about 60 million. In spite of an official policy of religious freedom, believers suffer persecution and sometimes imprisonment for their faith. Geographically, Turkey is in a strategic position, straddling the European and Asian continents and bordered by four seas. Turks are proud of their history, remembering the strength of the powerful general Kemal Ataturk, who established the democratic republic at the end of World War I. Turkey is also rich in Christian history. All seven churches mentioned in the book of Revelation are located in Turkey, as well as many of the cities the apostle Paul visited on his missionary journeys.
Since Islam took hold, only a handful of Turks have followed
Jesus, although this is changing. It is difficult to know for
sure, but there may be as few as 500 Turkish believers in Turkey.
Bible correspondence courses have brought more than half of these
believers to Christ.
Though many Turks practice Islam only nominally, they consider it a strong part of their identity and say "to be Turkish is to be Muslim." Christ, we pray that Turks would find their identity in you.
In the mountains and deserts of south west Iran live a proud, nomadic people who have resisted attempts to absorb them into mainstream Iranian culture. The Qashqa'i call themselves Turks and speak a Turkic language similar to Azerbaijani. Though they are Shiah Muslims, most have little use for organized religion beyond political purposes. A traditionally nomadic way of life has kept the them from exposure to Christian witness. In 1996 there were no known Qashqa'i believers, churches, Bibles, or missionaries for them. This situation pricked the conscience of a few Christians who have begun to advocate for the needs of the Qashqa'i to the Christian community.
Thank you, Father, for these advocates and their desire for the Qashqa'i! Protect, provide for, and grant wisdom for the missionaries of many countries hoping to minister there.
|Turkmen||Homeland: Turkmenistan, Iran, Afghanistan|
|Religion: Islam, Animism, Atheism|
Nomadic life in Central Asia's harsh Kara Kum desert was difficult, but allowed the Turkmen to maintain a society fairly independent of the kingdoms that claimed to rule them. Turkmen learned to depend only on their own families and tribes. Life today is different. Gulya a young turkwoman stated, "Our nation is struggling to catch up with the modern world, while rediscovering our ancient heritage." Since the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Turkmen national pride has grown. Many are embracing the Turkmen language, heritage, and culture once suppressed by the Soviets.
Lord, thank you for the hopeful future you have for the Turkmen people. Let many Turkmen come into your family, learn to depend on you, and follow your ways.
|Azerbaijani||Homeland: Azerbaijan, Iran Atheism|
|Religion: Islam, Animism,|
"Last year, I lent my Bible to a non-Christian friend," confides Elshad. "He had it for a long time, and though I was pleased he was so interested, I needed it back. Every time I asked for it, he put me off. Finally, I discovered the reason. He was hand-copying the entire book of Psalms! He told me that they were so poetic, and so beautiful, he just couldn't bear to part with them." The New Testament and a children's Bible are available in the Azerbaijani language, and a team of translators has begun work on the Old Testament. "We have a saying," explains one translator, "that someone who speaks the Azerbaijani language well sings like a nightingale. We desire this translation to sing to the hearts of our people." The middle-eastern heritage helps Turkic and Persian peoples understand the cultures and stories of the Bible.
Word of life, let translation projects in Turkic and Persian languages "sing to the hearts of the people."
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