Laz, Lazuri in Germany

Laz, Lazuri
Photo Source:  Daniel James Grace 
Map Source:  People Group location: Lazebura Facebook Group, Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
People Name: Laz, Lazuri
Country: Germany
10/40 Window: No
Population: 1,000
World Population: 107,800
Primary Language: Laz
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 4.00 %
Evangelicals: 2.00 %
Scripture: Portions
Online Audio NT: Yes
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Caucasus
Affinity Bloc: Eurasian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Laz live off the southeastern edge of the Black Sea in a region known as Lazistan. Today, the area is divided between Turkey and the Republic of Georgia. In Turkey, the Laz live scattered throughout the country, but many have migrated to larger cities for financial and educational reasons. There, they have access to conveniences such as radio and television.

The Laz of Turkey and Georgia speak two different languages, both of which are unwritten. Although they are closely related, they are not mutually intelligible. Most of the Laz in Turkey also speak the Turkish dialect of their region.

In Turkish folklore, the Laz have a reputation for plundering and piracy. They were notorious as kidnappers, and until the 1800s, they engaged in slave hunts focusing on young children. Today, however, they are respected as industrious, educated, adventurous and trustworthy people.

Germany is known for having a large Turkish community. Along with the Turks there are some Kurds and Laz people from Turkey living there. The Laz people started arriving in Germany in the 1970s, some 20 years after the Turks began to go there as "guest workers."

Most Laz people are in Turkey. A smaller number are in Georgia, and even a smaller number are in Germany where they blend in with the Turks.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The more intellectual Laz people realize that if they lose their language, they will lose their culture and identity. They could potentially become part of the greater Turkish whole. To stop this, there are Laz people in Germany who are trying to keep their language alive by publishing a newspaper using the Laz language. They are also trying to preserve their music and poetry.

What Are Their Beliefs?

At the beginning of the sixth century, Laz people were converted to Christianity. However today, in Turkey, Georgia or Germany, few of them are still Christian.

In the fifteenth century, the Ottoman Empire conquered the area that is now Turkey. This resulted in the conversion of many Laz to the Sunni branch of Islam. Today, almost all Laz in Turkey profess to be Sunni Muslim and are traditionally known for their conservatism in the Islamic faith. Those who have migrated to Germany remain in the Sunni Muslim fold. They face the influences of a secularized culture there.

What Are Their Needs?

Their need for the gospel is great, but the tools to reach them are few. Urgent prayer must be made if the Laz of Germany are to have an opportunity to hear the good news.

Prayer Points

Pray for gospel workers to catch a vision for reaching Laz people in Germany for Jesus and that in God's sovereign timing their hearts would be open and ready to follow him.
Pray for Jesus movements to bless extended families so the gospel will spread rapidly among the Laz people.
Pray for the spiritual lives of the Laz people to become fruitful as they follow Christ.
Pray for the lives and culture of the Laz people to evidence the rule and reign of the Kingdom of God as they open to the gospel, and for the beauty of Jesus to be seen in them.

Text Source:   Joshua Project