Photo Source: Anonymous
Map Source: Bethany World Prayer Center
|Christian Adherents:||1.00 %|
|Online Audio NT:||No|
|Affinity Bloc:||Turkic Peoples|
The small population of Rumelian Turks in Bosnia-Herzegovina are descendants of the Ottoman Turks who migrated from their central Asian homeland, conquered Anatolia (modern day Turkey), and eventually established the Ottoman Empire. At its peak, the empire encompassed the Balkan Mountains, Arabia and North Africa. Rumelian Turks are also known as the Balkan Turk. (Rumelia means "land of the Romans" and refers to the Balkan Mountain region). Bosnia-Herzegovina was part of the Ottoman Empire for more than 400 years. With the breakup of the empire after World War I, Bosnia-Herzegovina became part of Yugoslavia. When Bosnia-Herzegovina declared its independence in 1992, Bosnian Serbs began a civil war with the goal of removing all non-Serbs from Bosnian territory. This savage war cost the lives of over 200,00 Bosnians and forced thousands of Muslim families from their homes.
During the long Ottoman Empire reign, Rumelian Turks often settled in Balkan towns and served as military personnel or administrators or worked as craftsmen. After Yugoslavia, Greece, Albania, Bulgaria, and Romania became independent countries in the nineteenth century, many of the Rumelian Turks who returned to Turkey were given land. Their Turkish villages are still referred to as "immigrant" villages by the local people. Although Ottoman Turks ruled the Balkans for centuries, they were always an ethnic minority. Religious, linguistic and social differences kept them from intermarrying with the local populations in large numbers. When they did intermarry, Turkish men usually married Muslim, non-Turkish women. Polygamy is prohibited by local law. Some Islamic traits have persisted longer in Bosnia-Herzegovina than in Turkey. For example, Bosnian Muslim women wore the veil until it was banned in 1950, and traditional Bosnian Muslim men still wear the fez (a typical cone-shaped hat). Both customs have been prohibited in Turkey since 1922. Lamb, a favorite meat of Turks, is typically prepared as a pilaf (rice and oil cooked with small bits of meat). Musaka (roasted meat and eggplant) and kapama (mutton with spinach and green onions) are also popular dishes. The Turk relish sweets and are especially fond of Turkish delight (a gummy confection usually cut in cubes and dusted with sugar). The Muslim religion forbids drinking alcoholic beverages; instead, the Turk drink large quantities of strong coffee and yogurt.
The Communist government that was established after World War II tolerated Muslim religious observances and institutions, including Islamic schools. However, Muslim Turks were required to follow the compulsory state educational system. During the civil war, Bosnian Serbs not only killed hundreds of innocent civilians, but they also destroyed scores of mosques, several well-known Islamic libraries, and other Muslim institutions. The Turks remain Sunni Muslim wherever they live. Islam is an important part of their identity even if they do not observe Muslim practices on a regular basis.
Many Rumelian Turks are bitter against what they see as Christian (Orthodox and Roman Catholic) attempts to make them leave their homeland. They also see the inability of the Christian (Protestant and Roman Catholic) countries of Western Europe to intervene for their protection when they were in danger in the early 1990s. The Bible and the JESUS Film are available in Turkish. However, very few of the Rumelian Turks in Bosnia-Herzegovina are known to put their faith in Christ. Someone needs to make a special effort to take Christ to the Turks in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
Pray that the sheer wonder of knowing Jesus and the impact he has on their lives and the joy he brings spur believers to share Christ with the Turkish people. Pray the hearts of the Turkish people would be stirred by a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit readying them for the time when they hear and respond to the gospel. Pray Turks will experience dreams and visions of Jesus leading them into a saving relationship with him. Pray for an unstoppable movement to Christ among the Turks.