The Diaspora Turks
A cluster profile of 15 diaspora Turkish groups.

[IMAGE] The presence of Muslims, particularly Turks, in various parts of Europe goes as far back in time as historical Islam. The Turks originated in what is now called Turan. Turan lies between the Caspian Sea and the Mongolian Desert.

The Turks arrived in Antolia, Turkey (Asia Minor) in the eleventh century as conquering warriors. By the year 1299, the Ottoman Dynasty began ruling over what would soon become a vast empire. Over twenty states fell under the Ottoman rule, including present day Hungary, Yugoslavia, Southern Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Saudi Arabia. This huge empire lasted until Turkey became a republic in 1923.

Because of the empire's size, emigrations, and conquests, Turks were soon scattered throughout many areas outside of Turkey. Nevertheless, one common bond continued to link them together: their language. They speak Turkish or Turkce, a Southwestern Oghuz-Turkic language. Today, major Turkish communities can be found throughout Turkey, as well as Europe, the Middle East, and even Australia.

What are their lives like?
During the 1950's, there was a shortage of industrial labor in Europe, particularly Germany. Consequently, many regional attempts were made to recruit workers from Turkey. The best programs provided some type of training; however, most of the employers were simply looking for cheap labor. The immigrant workers were soon disappointed as they realized that their levels of experience were overlooked and their particular skills were not recognized. As a result, many were forced to work below their qualifications doing jobs that required little skill. Very few were given opportunities to train further.

The first crisis in this development came with the short economic recession of 1966-67. In Germany, approximately 70,000 Turkish workers lost their jobs. However, few of the Turks returned to their homeland, as was expected. As the economy gradually improved over the next six years, Germany saw its greatest influx of Turkish workers. In 1973 alone, more than 100,000 Turks moved into the area. From 1989 to 1992, there was yet another large influx of people from eastern Europe, especially from Turkey, Yugoslavia, and Italy.

The Turks have a deep sense of nationalistic pride and love for their country. They are a very sincere people who place a high value on honor. They rely strongly on group solidarity, or trust in one's own group. Such groups would include one's village, family, friends, or schoolmates.

Turks are also a very sensitive people. For example, they do not appreciate the criticisms that Westerners sometimes write about them or about their past brutal ways. Their sensitivity can be clearly seen by comparing two proverbs of a similar theme. In the United States, a well-known proverb says, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." The Turkish proverb says, "The hurt of a stick dies away, but words hurt forever."

Inside most Turkish communities, marriages are often arranged by the parents. Weddings usually take place between two young people who are in their teens. Though marriages are not always arranged, if a university student meets someone he would like to marry at school, advice from his parents is still attained before a marriage can take place. In such a case, the "dating classmates" are not allowed to go out by themselves, but only with groups of friends. Otherwise, criticisms and rumors may spread in their communities.

Relaxation is of the utmost importance to a Turk. Coffee houses are places where men meet to talk politics, business, or to gossip. At any time of day, a Turk may be seen sitting in a garden, in a coffeehouse, or in his favorite scenic spot, enjoying the view around him, playing an instrument, or meditating.


What are their beliefs?
The Turks are predominantly Muslims, believing in one God (Allah), and an eternal heaven and hell. However, Turks also have many ethnic beliefs and superstitions as well. For example, they believe that men have the power to curse others by giving them the "evil eye." They believe that one is protected against such a curse by wearing blue beads, which the evil eye cannot face. Another way to avoid this cursing glare is to spit in a fire and pray to Allah.

What are their needs?
All fifteen groups of Turks living outside of Turkey have Christian resources available to them in their language. They also have missions agencies that are currently working among them. In the West, they are surrounded by a "Christian" atmosphere and environment. Sadly, however, all of these groups remain 99% Muslim.

The Islamic religion is very difficult to penetrate. Under Islamic law, the penalty for a change of faith is death. The Turks who are living in Christian countries desperately need to see Christianity lived out--believers who will demonstrate the love of God towards them. How else will they understand that abundant life is found in Christ alone?

It is God's will for the Muslim Turks to come to know Him, for He " not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (II Peter 3:9) Prayer alone has the power to break through the strongholds of Islam. Intercessors are needed to daily stand in the gap and pray for the salvation of the Turkish people.

Prayer Points

  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Turks bound.
  • Ask the Lord to send people to work among the Turks who can effectively minister the Gospel to Muslims.
  • Pray that Turks living in Christian countries will be evangelized and then share the Gospel with their own people.
  • Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the small number of Turks who have become Christians.
  • Pray that God will give the missions agencies strategies for reaching the Turks.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften their hearts towards Christians so that they will be receptive to the Gospel.
  • Pray that God will call faithful intercessors to stand in the gap for the Turkish people.
  • Ask the Lord to raise up strong local churches among the Turks by the year 2000.

© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center

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