Pontic Greek in Türkiye (Turkey)

Map Source:  Joshua Project
People Name: Pontic Greek
Country: Türkiye (Turkey)
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 5,100
World Population: 385,100
Primary Language: Pontic
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 5.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Translation Needed
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: No
People Cluster: Greek
Affinity Bloc: Eurasian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

Pontic Greeks are ethnically Greek. They traditionally lived in the region of Pontus, on the southern shores of the Black Sea. They traditionally speak Pontic, which is a distinct dialect from the modern Greek language. The language is used for folklore. Pontic songs are particularly popular in Greece. The Pontic Greeks suffered widespread massacres and what is now usually termed "ethnic cleansing" at the beginning of the 20th century. Many found refuge by hiding in the mountains, and others migrated to other countries. The surviving Pontic Greeks converted to Islam which allowed some of them to escape Muslim Turk persecution. There are currently no Christian resources in the Pontic Greek language.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Most Pontic Greeks of Turkey make their living by agriculture. They cultivate grapes, olives, wheat and different varieties of fruit. Pontic Greeks also raise goats and sheep. Some Pontic Greeks fish on the Black Sea or are involved in transporting goods on the sea. The Pontic Greeks try to maintain their Greek culture surrounded by Turks. The Greeks have a strong tradition of songs, poetry, dancing and festive clothing. The Pontic Greeks want to marry within their group so as to preserve their culture and distinct language. Many young people move away to Turkish cities and become more Turkish than Greek. Pontic Greeks desire to keep a low profile so they do not arouse the hostility of the Turkish majority.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The vast majority of the Pontic Greeks claim to be Sunni Muslims. Sunni Muslims try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Mohammad. Sunnis believe that by following the Five Pillars of Islam that they will attain heaven when they die. However, Allah, the supreme God of the universe, determines who enters paradise. Sunnis pray five times a day facing Mecca. They fast the month of Ramadan. They attend mosque services on Friday. If a Muslim has the means, he or she will make a pilgrimage to Mecca once in his or her lifetime. Muslims are also prohibited from drinking alcohol, eating pork, gambling, stealing, using deceit, slandering, and making idols. The two main holidays for Sunni Muslims are Eid al Fitr, the breaking of the monthly fast and Eid al Adha, the celebration of Abraham's willingness to sacrifice his son to Allah. A small fraction of the Pontic Greeks is Orthodox Christian.

What Are Their Needs?

It is difficult for Christian workers to gain entrance into Turkey. Perhaps believers within the larger Pontic Greek population in Greece will be prompted by the Lord's Spirit to carry the gospel message to their brethren in Turkey.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send workers to the Pontic Greeks of Turkey. Pray that Pontic Greeks would be led to investigate their ancient Christian traditions. Pray the prayers of Pontic Christians expressed generations ago for their descendants will be heard and honored by the Lord today. Pray this small ethnic minority in Turkey will not be ostracized and will have opportunities to pursue education and employment.

Text Source:   Joshua Project