(Voice of the Persecuted) TURKISH WORLD United in their ethnic and Muslim heritage
WHAT IS THE TURKISH WORLD LIKE?
Turkey is at the heart of the Turkish world. Turks make up more than 65% (54 million) of the population of Turkey, and another three Turkic ethnic groups – Crimean Tatars, Azerbaijani, and Yuruk – account for another 10%.
Today, there are people speaking various Turkic languages in more than twenty surrounding countries. Most of the members of these Turkish communities in Europe, West Asia, and the Arab World are descendants of people who emigrated from Andalusian Turkey during more than 600 years of Ottoman rule (1300-1922).
Sizeable communities of Turkish people live in Cyprus, Greece, Macedonia, Bosnia, Bulgaria, and Romania. Georgia, to the north, is home to four small Turkish people groups. Two distinct groups of Tatars, together numbering 20 million Muslims, are Russia’s second largest ethnicity and live all across the country. Additional Muslim Turkish groups speaking 15 different Turkic languages are scattered across Russia. To the east, about 26 million Azeri Turks live in Iran and Azerbaijan. To the south, roughly 7 million Turks live in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and Yemen.
These Turkish peoples live in a wide variety of economic, social, and geographic conditions. Outside of Turkey, Azerbaijan, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, they all live as minorities. Millions of Turks also live in diaspora, forming the largest ethnic minority group in Denmark, Germany, and the Netherlands.
WHAT ARE THE GREATEST STRUGGLES IN THE TURKISH WORLD?
Following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991 and Yugoslavia in 1992, hundreds of Turks moved to Turkey, fleeing persecution and harassment from Europeans resentful of hundreds of years of Ottoman rule.
Some Turkish areas are experiencing economic prosperity and growth. Yet by far the majority of Turks are poor and struggling to provide a viable future for their children.
In Europe and Russia, Turks are living as often tiny minorities in predominantly secular, Christian countries. Their common identity as Muslims helps preserve their sense of heritage and helps hold their communities together in the face of the overwhelming majority of non-Muslims around them. In Southern Europe, an unusually high percentage of Turkish-heritage people say they have no religion.
WHAT IS ISLAM LIKE IN THE TURKISH WORLD?
When President Ataturk abolished the Ottoman Empire and declared Turkey a modern secular republic in 1923, he reflected an ongoing trend toward secularism across the Turkish world. Nearly a hundred years later, Turkish President Erdoğan has been attempting to create a revival in Islamic identity.
Millions of Turks are becoming increasingly devout. Though conservative Islam is making a comeback in Turkey, analysts believe that more than 75% of the people of Turkey are still secular.
Secular Muslims also dominate many of the Turkish communities in Europe, Asia, and the Arab World. For these Muslims, being Turkish is often more about culture and ethnic identity than about religion. The majority of Turkish Muslims are Sunni, though there are sizeable groups of Shia Muslims. Despite the influence of secularism, many Turkic Muslims throughout the region practice forms of folk Islam.
WHAT IS GOD DOING IN THE TURKISH WORLD?
In the waning years of the Ottoman Empire (1914-22), horrific genocides of Syriacs, Assyrians, Greeks, Armenians, and Chaldeans by Turks and Kurds slaughtered half of the Christians. The 1923 population exchange with Greece expelled 1.2 million more. The Christian population of 4.4 million (25%) in 1912 plummeted to 700,000 in 1924, to 200,000-300,000 (0.2%) today. Remnants of five Orthodox denominations remain.
Mission groups have been active in Turkey since the 1970s. The fruit of this ministry is an Evangelical church of about 6,000. Though the Bible and a growing amount of Christian literature is available in Turkey and online, resources are scarce among Turkic peoples in the surrounding nations. Only the New Testament has been completed in the primary Tatar languages in Russia, for example.
Since Muslim Turks in western and eastern Europe, Russia, and the Middle East are often almost forgotten minorities, little is being done to reach out to them, though there are small, but long-standing ministries among them in Europe.
- Pray for hearts to be opened and softened to hear and receive the Good News.
- Pray for Jesus to reveal Himself through visions, dreams, and His Word.
- Pray for new and widespread movements to Christ that bring spiritual revival to the entire region.
- We will continue to pray for Leah Sharibu and Alice, both held captive by the Boko Haram.
- For Pastor Wanh Yi from China, who has been sentenced to 9 years in prison for sharing boldly the love of God.
- For Anita, a Christian convert recently sentenced to 10 years in prison for sharing the Gospel in Iran.
- Pray for Christians seeking asylum in Turkey. Many fear they will be denied and sent back to the countries they fled because of their faith.
- Pray for Christian converts from Iran now living in Turkey. Often Iranians are looked down upon by the Turkish people. Pray for the Iranian converts who escaped the clutches of the Iranian regime and now seeking freedom in Turkey. Pray Turkish officials hearts will soften towards them and their cases will be handled justly.
As Blaine Scogin, the Founder of Persecution Watch and Prayer Director of Voice of the Persecuted, did each year, the team will continue to host nightly calls during Ramadan. We will be following along with the Prayercast Team’s platform in praying for Muslims for the next 30 days, which began on April 24. Please sign up here to receive the daily video and prayer points from Prayercast which we will cover on the nightly prayer conference calls.
Dear brothers and sisters, we challenge you to join us on the conference call to pray during these 30 nights of prayer for the persecuted, the harvest and for Muslims to come out of the dark, receive the truth and follow Jesus.
Voice of the Persecuted and the Persecution Watch Team
Call will be hosted nightly during Ramadan beginning April 24, 2020
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted and our missions became one. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch is an important part of our own. With the passing of Blaine into glory on December 26, 2019, Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with our dedicated prayer warrior team.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the call to share the trials they’re facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone. We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you’re new to the call and can’t find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
NOTE: Persecution Watch has a new email address for the prayer team and those who would like to receive urgent prayer requests, weekly call prayer points and notification of special prayer events and special guest speakers. Please fill out the form below to be included in our new distribution list to receive this important information. Since the passing of Brother Blaine Scogin, we thank you for your patience as we have transitioned into this new season. We are grateful for your prayers and to the Lord for guiding us as we continue the Persecution Watch prayer call mission.
Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.