Introduction / History
The Turks originated in Turan, a region that lies between the Caspian Sea and the Mongolian Desert. They arrived in Anatolia, Turkey (Asia Minor) in the 11th century as conquering warriors. By the year 1299, the Ottoman Dynasty began ruling over what would become a vast empire, greater in area than the Roman Empire. It was the last caliphate, an Islamic political state. Today Muslim militants lament its downfall. Over 20 states fell under Ottoman rule, including southern Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya, Saudi Arabia, and the Kingdom of Hungary. The huge Ottoman Empire lasted until Turkey became a republic in 1923.
Since the 1920s modern Turkey has become a secular, developed nation that sits, literally and symbolically, between the Christian West and the Muslim world. Turkey is considered to be a "link" between the Orient (Chinese and Mongols) and the Occidental (Anglo-Saxons, Slavs, Goths, and Latins). The Turk, therefore, have a knowledge and mixture of both Eastern and Western cultures.
During the days of the mighty Ottoman Empire, some Turks settled in Italy, but they have since blended in with the Italian population in places like the predominantly Turkish village of Moena where Ottoman culture is celebrated each year. There have been a couple thousand Turks who have slowly migrated to Italy in recent decades.
Today many Turks would like to join the European Union, but there is considerable resistance from Europeans who are reluctant to allow a Muslim nation to join them. That setup would allow many more Turks to migrate to Europe with far fewer restrictions.
Where are they located?
The majority of Turks live in their home country, but significant numbers live in Europe, especially Germany. There are Turks living in other European countries like Italy. Those who live in Italy are usually in the northern regions. There are Turks in Turin, Brescia, Milan, Venice, and Rome.
What are their lives like?
Though traditional ways continue to exist in some areas, the typical Turks lives a secularized, modern urban life, with all the materialistic advantages and temptations that go with it. Much cultural sexism remains as women are often viewed through traditional Islamic beliefs.
What are their beliefs?
The Turks of Italy are predominantly nominally Sunni Muslim, believing in one god (Allah), and an eternal heaven and hell. However, they also have many ethnic beliefs as well. For example, they believe that men have the power to curse others by giving them the "evil eye." They believe that one is protected against such a curse by wearing blue beads, which the evil eye cannot face. Another way to avoid this cursing glare is to spit in a fire and pray to Allah. They also believe that if a woman puts fish oil around a door and a man walks through it, he will love her for the rest of his life.
What are their needs?
Although the Turks of Italy have Christian resources (both the Bible and the JESUS Film have been translated into Turkish) available to them in their language and mission agencies have worked among them, they remain Muslim. Prayer alone has the power to break through the strongholds of Islam. Intercessors are needed to daily stand in the gap and pray for the salvation of these precious people.
There are negative attributes of modern urban life that can lead to an identity crisis among Turks. This can lead individuals to Christ, to fundamentalist Islam, or to destruction.
* Pray that many Turks living in Italy will be reached with the gospel and will take it back to Turkey.
* Pray that more churches and mission organizations will accept the challenge of adopting and reaching the Turks in Europe.
* Ask God to give Turkish believers boldness to share the gospel with their own people.
* Ask the Lord to save key leaders among the Turks in Europe who will boldly declare the gospel.
ReferencesView Turk in all countries.