The Gabri of Iran
The Islamic Republic of Iran is home to approximately 67 million people divided into about 75 distinct ethnic groups. The largest percentage of people are Persian. These descended from the original Indo-Europeans who entered the country from Central Asia in the second millennium B.C. The remainder of the population consists of ethnic groups such as the Azeri, Gilaki, Mazandarani, and Kurd. Other groups include the Arab, Lur, Baluchi, and Turkmen. Numerous other groups compose less than 1% of the total population. The Gabri are located in the Yazd and Kerman areas of Iran. Like most Iranians, they speak an Indo-Iranian tongue, but most are also fluent in Farsi (Persian).
In the mid-eleventh century, Iran was conquered by the Seljuk Turks under Togrul Beg. During the next four centuries, it was successively dominated by the Seljuks, the Mongols under Genghis Khan, Tamerlane and his Mongol hordes, and the Turkmen, resulting in a melting pot of ethnic groups.
What are their lives like?
The origin of the Gabri is unclear, but it is known that they are primarily herdsmen. More than half of Iran is either rugged terrain or wasteland, most of which is uninhabitable salt deserts. About one-tenth of the country is suitable for farming, and another one-fourth is suitable for grazing. Nearly one-third of the agricultural land area is irrigated, mostly in the hilly margins between desert and mountains.
Health conditions outside the capital are poor. Many small towns and rural areas suffer from unsanitary conditions and a shortage of medical personnel and facilities. Contagious diseases such as scarlet fever, whooping cough, pulmonary tuberculosis, and typhoid fever are prevalent. The infant mortality rate is a serious problem; it is very high by both international and Middle Eastern standards. Life expectancy is about 65 years for both sexes.
Although five years of primary education is compulsory in Iran, many rural children never attend school because of either parental objection or a lack of facilities. The secondary school system is relatively undeveloped, and it serves mainly to prepare small numbers of students for university-level education. The illiteracy rate in the country is high and compares poorly even to that of other Middle Eastern countries.
The culture of Iran is heavily influenced by the Muslim religion, as is evident in the art, literature, and social structure of the country. After the 1979 revolution, the Shi'ite clergy led a drive for renewed Muslim practices. Women were ordered to return to more traditional roles, movie theaters were closed, and radio stations were prohibited from broadcasting music. The segregation of men and women at social functions was re-instituted. Many women again wore the traditional chador, a long black cloth that is draped over the head and body.
What are their beliefs?
The border of Iran is inhabited by ethnic minorities, who at times have been perceived to hold greater allegiance to their individual ethnic groups than to the national government. Arabs can be found in the southwest. The Baluchi in the southeast, the Turkmen in the northeast, and the Kurds in the west are all Sunni Muslims. Although they are Shi'ites, the Azeri have had conflict with the politically active Shi'ite clergy. However, at other times they have found common cause with them.
The official religion of Iran is Shi'ite Islam, which is followed by more than 95% of the population. However, the Gabri are 100% Zoroarastrians. As followers of this ancient Persian religion, the Gabri believe that a creator god is personally involved in their lives. They do not believe in an eternal judgment, saying instead that those in hell will finally be resurrected.
What are their needs?
The Gabri do not have any Christian resources available to them in their own language. Also, no missions agencies are currently targeting them. The nation of Iran remains closed to traditional missionary work. Only sustained prayer can open its doors to the Gospel.
- Pray that the doors of Iran will soon be opened to the preaching of the Gospel.
- Pray that the Bible, the Jesus film, and Christian broadcasts will be made available in the Gabri language.
- Ask Jesus to supernaturally reveal Himself as Lord through dreams and visions.
- Pray for the hearts of the Gabri to be softened towards the Gospel message.
- Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Gabri who will boldly proclaim that Jesus is Lord.
- Take authority over the spiritual principalities and powers that have kept the Gabri bound for many generations.
- Ask God to raise up prayer teams who will begin breaking up the soil through worship and intercession.
- Pray that strong local churches will be planted among the Gabri by the year 2000.
Latest estimates from the World Evangelization Research Center.
- People name: Gabri
- Country: Iran
- Their language: Gabri (Yazdi)
- Largest religion:
- Christian: 0%
- Church members: 0
- Scriptures in their own language: None
- Jesus Film in their own language: None
- Christian broadcasts in their own language: None
- Mission agencies working among this people: 0
- Persons who have heard the Gospel: 3,200 (25%)
- Persons who have never heard the Gospel: 9,700 (75%)
- Country: Iran
- Major peoples in size order:
- Major religions:
- Number of denominations: 26
© Copyright 1997
Bethany World Prayer Center
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