Photo Source: manothegreek
Map Source: People Group location: IMB. Map geography: ESRI / GMI. Map design: Joshua Project.
|Online Audio NT:
The Kurds are the largest people group in the world without their own homeland. They are spread across Turkey, Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Armenia, and Georgia. This oil-rich area is known as Kurdistan by the Kurdish people. Kurds now living in Armenia originated in Turkey. Kurds immigrated to Armenia in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Some of them are Yazidis (a sect of Islam) who were fleeing persecution from the Turkish Ottoman Empire.
Though the distinct Kurdish communities within the former Soviet Union are separated by religion, places of origin, and distance, many Kurds still dream of a united Kurdistan. They have maintained customs and traditional dress in many areas.
Armenia permits the Kurds to use their language of Kurmanji. Armenia has become a cultural center for Kurds. There are radio broadcasts in the Kurmanji dialect and there is a Kurdish publishing house.
The Kurds of Armenia generally enjoy a higher standard of living than their cousins in Turkey and Iran. Although they still farm and care for animals, many now live in cities. About half live in Armenia's capital city, Yerevan.
Kurds in the former Soviet Union are among the nation's most prosperous citizens. They work hard on their farms, as well as tending to their own herds and plots of land.
The prosperity of the Kurds in Armenia is evident in the quality of their homes. They have modern houses made of stone or brick, usually equipped with central heating and sometimes even a telephone. Their villages have broad, well-lit streets, linked to the cities by reasonably good roads. They have their own schools, schoolbooks, and a printing press, as well as many other things that are considered luxurious in Kurdistan. They face little or no discrimination in Armenia. Illiteracy disappeared among them in the 1930s.
The Kurds are noted for their elaborate and colorful national costumes. The men's attire consists of baggy, colored trousers and plain shirts with huge sleeves split at the wrist and tied at the elbow. Brilliantly colored vests and sashes are also part of their attire. Women wear brightly embroidered, heavy clothing.
The husband/father is the head of the Kurdish home. Traditionally, the mother stayed home to take care of children and do domestic chores. This is changing as more Kurdish women become educated and live in urban settings. Yazidi Kurds are strictly endogamous, marrying within their group. If a Yazidi marries someone outside their faith, they are expelled from the community.
While most of the Kurds of Armenia are Shia Muslims, a significant number are Yazidis. Yazidis draw heavily on the ancient Persian religion of Zoroastrianism. Fire plays a part in their rituals. Zoroastrians believe that there is a universal struggle between darkness and light. Orthodox Muslims have long persecuted the Yazidis whom they view as heretics. Some Muslims and Yazidis show hostility to any Christian who attempts to share the good news about Jesus with them. The most important holiday for Kurds is Newroz, or the New Year's festival beginning on March 19-21. Kurds wear special clothing, dance, sing, have family meals and jump over bonfires.
The Kurds of Armenia have followed Shia Islam and the Yazidi religion for many years. Although they are financially prosperous, spiritually they are poor. Although the New Testament and the JESUS Film are available in their language of northern Kurdish, there are still only a tiny number of known believers among them.
Ask the Lord to call people who are willing to go to Armenia and share Christ with the Kurmanji speaking Kurds.
Pray that God will raise up Armenian followers of Christ who will give a clear Gospel witness to the Muslim and Yazidi Kurds.
Ask God to strengthen, encourage, and protect the few known Kurdish believers, and use them to start a Disciple Making Movement in Armenia.
Ask the Lord to give mission agencies wise strategies for reaching the Kurdish population.