Yoruk in Turkey

Yoruk
Photo Source:  Doron - Wikimedia  Creative Commons 
Map Source:  Nomad Place
People Name: Yoruk
Country: Turkey
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 470,000
World Population: 475,000
Primary Language: Balkan Gagauz Turkish
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Unspecified
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: No
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Turkish
Affinity Bloc: Turkic Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Yoruks or Turkomen live in the mountains of southern Turkey. The traditional occupation of Yoruks has been semi-nomadic shepherds. For hundreds of years, at the beginning of every summer the Yoruks made the long trek from the hot plains to spend the summer in the cool prairies and grassy highlands of the western Toros Mountains. The primary language of the Yoruk is Balkan Gagauz Turkish. There are currently only Bible Recordings available in this language.

What Are Their Lives Like?

Today many Yoruks have settled down to live in one location, mostly in rural villages. The Yoruk people are made up of a large number of patrilineal tribes, which are often subdivided into clans. The Yoruk have retained their ancient skill in weaving wool into carpets and colorful clothing. Besides the raising of sheep and goats, Yoruk cultivate grapes, olives, wheat, maize, and various kinds of fruit and nuts. Some work as shopkeepers and in trades. Some of their young people are moving to cities to increase their economic opportunities. The Yoruk strictly marry within their tribe. Parents arrange marriages with the consent of the young people. Since they see children as a blessing of Allah, they tend to have large families. Unfortunately, the Yoruk have traditionally had an aversion to formal education. Only about one quarter of their children attend school. As a result, only a small percentage of the Yoruk can read and write. The Turkish government wants to increase this number. Upon marriage a young couple moves to their own tent or home. The whole clan raises the children not just the father and mother.

What Are Their Beliefs?

The vast majority of the Yoruk consider themselves to be Sunni Muslims. Their brand of Islam is heavily influenced by pre-Islamic folk religion and animism. Village shaman lead the people in rituals and prayer to appease the evil spirits. 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. 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. There are few if any known believers among the Yoruk of Turkey.

What Are Their Needs?

Turkey is generally hostile to overt Christian witness. The Yoruk people have few opportunities to hear of the savior in Turkey, North Macedonia or Bulgaria. The Yoruk people need job and literacy training. Every Yoruk need to hear the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. He alone can forgive their sins and grant them eternal life.

Prayer Points

Ask the Lord to send workers to the Yoruk. Pray for spiritual hunger. Pray that more Christian material will be translated into the Yoruk’s primary language. Pray that the Lord raises up a church planting movement among the Yoruks of Turkey.

Text Source:   Joshua Project