Prayer Profile
The Northern Kurd of Armenia

[IMAGE] The Kurds are the largest people group without their own homeland. They are spread across Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Armenia, and Georgia. This oil-rich area is known as "Kurdistan."

The Northern Kurd of Armenia originated in Turkey. Large numbers of Kurds immigrated to Armenia and Georgia in the late 1800's and early 1900's. Some of them are Yazidis (a sect of Islam) who were fleeing persecution as heretics in the Turkish Ottoman Empire.

Though the distinct Kurdish communities within the C.I.S. (former USSR) are separated by religion, places of origin, and distance, many Kurds still dream of a united Kurdistan. Customs and traditional dress have been maintained in many areas. The C.I.S. encourages the Kurds to use their national language, and Armenia has become a cultural center for Kurds. There are radio broadcasts in the Kurmanji dialect and there is a Kurdish publishing house.

What are their lives like?
The Northern Kurd of Armenia enjoy a higher standard of living than their cousins in Turkey and Iran. Although they still farm and care for animals, many now live in cities. About half live in Armenia's capital city, Erivan.

While the Kurds in Turkey are relatively poor, former Soviet Kurds are among the nation's most prosperous citizens. They work hard on the various collective farms, as well as tending to their own herds and plots of land.

The prosperity of the Northern Kurd is evident in the quality of their homes. They have modern houses made of stone or brick, usually equipped with central heating and sometimes even a telephone. Their villages have broad, well-lit streets, linked to the cities by reasonably good roads. They have their own schools, school books, and a printing press, as well as many other things that are considered "luxurious" in Kurdistan. They face no discrimination and many hold high political offices. Illiteracy disappeared among them in the 1930's.

Prior to glasnost, there was a measure of cultural freedom for the Kurds. However, both glastnost and Armenia's independence have contributed to a resurgence of Kurdish identity and expression. As Kurdish nationalism has been re-awakened, many C.I.S. citizens have embraced their ethnic origins by declaring themselves to be Kurds.

Though the Kurdish Yazidis of Armenia are small in number, they have done the most to defend their identity. They have jealously guarded their national customs and have resisted the pressure to be absorbed into the Armenian lifestyle.

The Kurds are noted for their elaborate and colorful national costumes. The men's attire consists of baggy, colored trousers and plain shirts with huge sleeves split at the wrist and tied at the elbow. Brilliantly colored vests and sashes are also worn. Women wear brightly embroidered, heavy clothing.

What are their beliefs?
While most of the Northern Kurd of Armenia are Shia Muslims, a significant number are Yazidis. Their beliefs draw heavily on the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrinism. Zoroastrinists worship a god named "Ormazd." They believe that there is a universal struggle between darkness and light.

Traditional Muslim Kurds have long persecuted the Yazidis, whom they view as heretics.

What are their needs?
The Northern Kurd of Armenia have walked in the darkness of Islam and Zoroastrinism for many years. Although they are financially prosperous, spiritually they are paupers.

Currently, there are no missions agencies targeting the Northern Kurd of Armenia. Although the New Testament and the Jesus film are available in their language, there are still only 18 known believers among them. Christian radio and television broadcasts as well as literature are needed to successfully reach the Northern Kurd population with the Gospel.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Armenia and share Christ with the Northern Kurd.
  • Ask the Holy Spirit to soften the hearts of the Muslim Kurds towards Christianity.
  • Pray that God will raise up Armenian Christians as a clear Gospel witness to the Muslim Kurds.
  • Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the few known Northern Kurd Christians.
  • Pray that God will raise up qualified linguists to complete translation of the entire Word of God into Kurmanji.
  • Ask the Lord to give missions agencies strategies for reaching the Kurd population.
  • Pray that a strong local church will be raised up among the Northern Kurd of Armenia by the year 2000.

See also profiles on the following Kurd groups:
The Alveica of Turkey; The Dimili of Turkey; The Herki of Turkey, Iran and Iraq; The Kurd of Afghanistan, Kazakstan and Kyrgyzstan: The Northern Kurd of Azerbaijan, Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, and Turkey; The Southern Kurd of Iraq and Iran; the Western Kurd of Syria; and the Shikaki of Turkey.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Northern Kurd
  • Country: Armenia
  • Their language: Kurmanji
  • Population: (1990) 56,900
    (1995) 61,100
    (2000) 64,800
  • Largest religion: Muslims (Shias) 90%
    Muslims (Yazidis) 5%
    Muslims (Sunnis) 4.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 18
  • Scriptures in their own language: New Testament
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
  • Mission agencies working among this people: None
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 13,500 (22%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 1,900 (3%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 11,600 (19%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 47,600 (77%)
  • Country: Armenia
  • Population: (1990) 3,351,700
    (1995) 3,599,100
    (2000) 3,813,300
  • Major peoples in size order: Armenian 93%
    Azerbaijani 2.5%
    Northern Kurd 1.7%
    Russian 1.5%
  • Major religions: Christians 83.5%
    Nonreligious 9.7%
    Atheists 4.6%
  • Number of denominations: 11

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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