Hemshin in Turkey

People Name: Hemshin
Country: Turkey
10/40 Window: Yes
Population: 23,000
World Population: 26,200
Primary Language: Turkish
Primary Religion: Islam
Christian Adherents: 0.00 %
Evangelicals: 0.00 %
Scripture: Complete Bible
Online Audio NT: No
Jesus Film: Yes
Audio Recordings: Yes
People Cluster: Armenian
Affinity Bloc: Eurasian Peoples
Progress Level:

Introduction / History

The Hemshin people of Turkey live in the northeast region of the country near the shores of the Black Seas. A smaller population of Hemshin lives in Russia and Kyrgyzstan. Many scholars believe that the Hemshin were ethnic Armenians whose ancestors converted to Islam to escape death and the severe persecution perpetrated by Muslim Turks. The Ottoman Empire (1299 to 1922) was one of the longest lasting empires in history. In 1922 Turkey became a secular parliamentary republic with Kemal Ataturk as its first leader. Turkey is one of most prosperous and stable predominantly Muslim countries in the world. Many Christian recourses are available in Turkish including a complete Bible and the JESUS Film.

What Are Their Lives Like?

The present community of Hemshin is Muslim and Turkish speaking. Some of the older members of the Hemshin community still speak the ancient Anatolian (western) Armenian dialect. The Hemshin are well-known for the clever jokes, riddles and stories they tell. The traditional occupations of the Hemshin are cultivating tea, fruit, vegetables and maize. They also raise livestock and engage in beekeeping. Tea and honey are their cash crops. Hemshin tend to marry within their group. Families arrange marriages with the consent of the young people. Parents tend to have large families as many children is seen as the blessing of Allah. Many Hemshin youth are leaving the traditional villages to live in Turkish cities where they will have better educational and economic opportunities.

What Are Their Beliefs?

All Hemshin claim to by Sunni Muslims. Sunni Muslims try to obey the teachings of the Koran and the prophet Muhammad. 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.

What Are Their Needs?

There is a need for workers to take these Bibles and the JESUS Film to the Hemshin people. The Hemshin need to see the practical love of Christ demonstrated to them.

Prayer Points

Pray the Hemshin people will increasingly be drawn to Jesus (whom Muslims call Isa al-Masih.) Ask the Lord to send dreams and visions to Hemshin leaders and elders. Pray that every Hemshin will have the opportunity to hear the gospel. Pray that the Lord will raise up a multiplying Hemshin church this decade. Pray for spiritual hunger among these Muslims.

Text Source:   Joshua Project