Persian in Cyprus

Map Source:  People Group data: Omid. Map geography: UNESCO / GMI. Map Design: Joshua Project
People Name: Persian
Country: Cyprus
10/40 Window: No
Population: 1,500
World Population: 44,132,400
Primary Language: Persian, Iranian
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 1.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.90 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Persian
Affinity Bloc: Persian-Median
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

By definition, Persians (also known as Iranians) are an ethnic group native to Iran. The Persian language, called Farsi, is part of the Indo-Iranian language family, and is the official language of Iran. Dari, the language of the elite in Afghanistan, is a dialect of modern Persian. Around 1000 B. C., Persian groups began to settle in the territory that is now Iran. Loosely associated Persian tribes became a more cohesive political unit under the Achaemenian dynasty. Their unity soon made them the dominant ethnic group in the region. For 1,200 years, Persia maintained a culture that became increasingly more complex and rigid. This laid the foundation for a successful Arabian conquest in the seventh century A. D. It was not until the Islamic revolution of 1979 that massive changes came both to Iran and to the Iranian people.

Where Are they Located?

Although the vast majority of Persians now live either in Iran or in one of the nearby Middle Eastern countries, small Persian communities can also be found in many other nations around the world including Cyprus. A small group of Iranians now make their home in Cyprus.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Many young Iranian men have found Cyprus to be an easy place to go to get out from under the heavy burden of a poor economy and Islamic governmental restrictions. There are a number of Evangelical mission efforts in Cyprus. One newly arrived Iranian has become a church planter in his new home. The Iranian population in Cyprus is very low.

What Are Their Beliefs?

Prior to the Arab invasions, the Persian religion was Zoroastrianism. This religion taught that there was an eternal struggle between the forces of good and evil. Shia Islam became the national religion of Iran in the sixteenth century, at which time the ulama (clergy) began playing an important role in both the social and political lives of the people. Today, most Iranians are officially Shia Muslims of the Ithna Ashari branch. However, the Iranians who have migrated to Cyprus are usually disillusioned with state-enforced spirituality, especially in light of the hypocrisy which they saw in the Iranian government. For this reason, most are either Shia Muslim in name only or they are secularized. Fortunately, being in a place where there is freedom of religion gives them a chance to hear and respond to the claims of Jesus Christ. The main obstacle is a lack of workers.

What Are Their Needs?

Iranians in Cyprus need to know there is hopeā€”not in a religious institution, but in the only Savior, Jesus Christ. It will take loving and patient ambassadors for Christ to go to them. There is a need for more workers who will go with the love of Christ.

Prayer Points

Pray for a Disciple Making Movement to flourish among Iranians all across Europe. Ask the Lord to call and send out people who are willing to share the love of Christ with Iranians. Pray that God will raise up faithful intercessors who will stand in the gap for the Iranians in Europe. Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the formerly Muslim Iranians who have come to faith in Christ.

Text Source:   Joshua Project