Prayer Profile
The Rumelian Turk of Yugoslavia


The Rumelian Turk are a remnant of the Ottoman Turks who swept through Serbia and Eastern Europe during the fourteenth century. For five hundred years the Ottoman Empire controlled the European Balkan Mountain region. At its peak, the empire encompassed the Balkan Mountains, Arabia, and North Africa.

With the breakup of the Ottoman Empire after World War I, Serbia and Montenegro became part of the Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovene, which was later known as Yugoslavia. In 1946, it was recreated as the Federal State of Yugoslavia and consisted of six republics. Four republics (Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia, and Bosnia-Hercegovina) declared their independence in 1991-92. In April of 1992, the remaining two republics formed a new, smaller Yugoslavia. The area's broad ethnic diversity and war-torn history continue to make it one of Europe's most tense regions.

What are their lives like?
During the long Ottoman Empire reign, the Rumelian Turk often settled in Balkan towns and served as military personnel or administrators, or worked as craftsmen. After Yugoslavia, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania became independent countries in the nineteenth century, an estimated 5.5 million Rumelian Turk returned to Turkey and settled on land given to them by the government. The local people still refer to their villages as "immigrant villages."

Even though the Ottoman Turk ruled the Balkans for centuries, they were always an ethnic minority. Religious, linguistic, and social differences kept them from intermarrying with the local populations in large numbers. When they did intermarry, Turkish men usually married Muslim, non-Turkish women. Polygamy (having more than one spouse) is prohibited by state law.

Today, many things in Yugoslavia reflect the influence of the lengthy Turkish Ottoman occupation. There are a number of Ottoman-style, domed mosques with pencil-thin pillars, modeled after those in Istanbul. The wooden houses decorated with latticework windows and containing separate quarters for men and women also have a Turkish flavor. Also, many of the marketplaces have specialty stores that are grouped together.

Lamb, a favorite meat of the Turk, is typically prepared as a pilaf (rice and oil cooked with small bits of meat). Musaka (roasted meat and eggplant) and kapama (mutton with spinach and green onions) also are popular dishes. The Turk, who relish sweets, are especially fond of Turkish delight (a gummy confection usually cut in cubes and dusted with sugar). The Muslim religion forbids drinking alcoholic beverages; instead, the Turk drink lots of strong coffee and yogurt.

What are their beliefs?
The Rumelian Turk are virtually all Muslims. The Turk adhere to the five essential "pillars" or duties in Islam: (1) A Muslim must affirm that "there is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet." (2) Five times a day he must pray while facing Mecca. (3) He must give alms generously. (4) He must fast during Ramadan, the ninth month of the Muslim year. (5) He must try to make at least one pilgrimage to Mecca in his lifetime.

The Yugoslavian Communist government that was established after World War II tolerated Muslim religious observances and institutions, including Islamic schools. However, the Muslim Turk were required to follow the compulsory state educational system.

What are their needs?
The violent civil war against Bosnian Muslims begun by Bosnian Serbs in 1992 put additional pressure on the Yugoslavian Muslim communities because Yugoslavia provided the Bosnian Serbs with weapons and ammunition.

The Bible, the Jesus film, and Christian radio broadcasts are all available in Turkish. However, very few of the Rumelian Turk in Yugoslavia are known to have become Christians. No missions agency is currently working among the Turk in this region. They desperately need committed workers to show them Christ's love.

Prayer Points

  • Ask the Lord of the harvest to send forth Christian laborers to live and work among the Rumelian Turk of Yugoslavia.
  • Pray that God will raise up prayer teams to break up the soil through worship and intercession.
  • Pray for effectiveness of the Jesus film among the Rumelian Turk.
  • Ask God to anoint the Gospel as it goes forth via radio to the Rumelian Turk.
  • Pray that God will reveal Himself to these precious people through dreams and visions.
  • Ask God to use the small number of Rumelian Turk Christians to share God's love with their own people.
  • Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that are keeping the Rumelian Turk bound.
  • Ask the Lord to bring forth a triumphant Rumelian Turk church for the glory of His name!

See also the following Groups:
The Rumelian Turk of Romania; The Rumelian Turk of Bosnia;
The Rumelian Turk of Greece; The Rumelian Turk of Bulgaria.

Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.


  • People name: Rumelian Turk
  • Country: Yugoslavia
  • Their language: Turkce
  • Population: (1990) 57,300
    (1995) 61,300
    (2000) 60,300
  • Largest religion: Muslim (Hanafite) 99.9%
  • Christians: <1%
  • Church members: 12
  • Scriptures in their own language: Bible
  • Jesus Film in their own language: Available
  • Christian broadcasts in their own language: Available
  • Mission agencies working among this people: 0
  • Persons who have heard the Gospel: 20,800 (34%) Those evangelized by local Christians: 1,900 (4%)
    Those evangelized from the outside: 18,900 (30%)
  • Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 40,500 (66%)
  • Country: Yugoslavia
  • Population: (1990) 9,547,000
    (1995) 10,211,100
    (2000) 10,052,600
  • Major peoples in size order: Serb 65.5%
    Kossovar 17.7%
    Hungarian 4.5%
    Croat 3%
  • Major religions: Christian 70.3%
    Muslim 16.2%
    Nonreligious 9.9%
    Atheist 3.5%
  • Number of denominations: 28

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Bethany World Prayer Center

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