This continues a series that will focus on an unreached people group. These are the bottom 40 Least-engaged Peoples, meaning that there is no ministry known to be going on within the group. According to the population number, every 50,000 people is assigned a potential missionary, so, you can see how many missionaries are needed for each peoples. Here is the eleventh group:
Dimli Kurd of Turkey
Missionaries Needed: 30
Bible?: None reported
**Also refered to as the Zaza-Dimli
The Zaza-Dimli differ from other Kurdish background groups in two ways, language and religion. They speak a language named Dimli, and many also speak Northern Kurdish. Similarly, while most Kurds are Sunni Muslims, the majority of the Zaza-Dimli are followers of the “Alevi Sect” of Islam. Other Kurdish peoples see the Dimlis as being heretics and, as a result, have isolated them from other Kurdish tribes.
Although most of the Kurds live in Turkey, the Turkish government refuses to recognize them as a separate people. They simply refer to them as the “mountain Turks.” Even their basic needs, such as education and land development, are neglected by the government. It is no wonder, then, that the Kurds are a people struggling to maintain their own identity.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Zaza-Dimli live either grouped together in towns and villages, or as nomadic herdsmen. Their society is dominated by males, but women typically oversee the households.
Traditional clothing for the men includes baggy trousers, plain shirts, jackets wrapped with brightly colored sashes, and colorful turbans. A dagger is worn and thrust into the folds of the sash. The women also wear brightly colored clothing; but, contrary to most other Muslim women, do not cover their faces with veils.
In northeastern Kurdistan, where the Zaza-Dimli live, there are three large river systems: the Arax, the Tigris, and the Euphrates. The valleys surrounding these rivers are rich and fertile–perfect for raising sheep, goats, and cattle. Much of Turkey’s meat, grain, and vegetables is also produced there.
Since the government doesn’t recognize the Kurds as a distinct people group, they do not invest money or resources into the Kurdish territories. This means, unfortunately, that most of their land has remained undeveloped. The lack of government funds has also hindered the Kurds’ educational progress. Most Kurdish villages do not even have a primary school.
What are their beliefs?
The earliest known religious practices among the Kurdish peoples included a Persian form of worship known as Zoroastrianism. This teaching says that there is indeed an afterlife, and it acknowledges the continuous struggle between good and evil. At the end of the seventh century, however, Arabians conquered this territory, and soon Muslim teachings replaced Zoroastrianism.
What are their needs?
Events surrounding the Kurds have recently turned the eyes of the world toward Kurdistan. Kurdish hopes for independence, or at least some sort of autonomy, ran high. This has not yet happened, unfortunately, even after the Gulf war; they are still in desperate need. Due to the Turkish government’s antagonistic position toward them, the Zaza-Dimli do not benefit from government funding or resources. In fact, the Turkish government uses many measures to suppress the identity of the Kurds. For example, the Kurdish language has been banned from use in schools and publications. Illiteracy and unemployment are major problems. Many villages have no water, electricity or telephones, and medical services are inadequate.
Although the Islamic religion is extremely difficult to penetrate, some Turkish Kurds are not devout Muslims and hold Christ in high regard. There are a growing number of Christian believers among the Kurds.
In the literal sense, this group is difficult to reach simply because hundreds of their villages are inaccessible by road; these may only be reached via small goat trails.
Ask God to grant wisdom to those who are working to get scriptures to the Zaza-Dimli in this remote area of Turkey.
Pray that the Zaza-Dimli who hold Christ in high regard will begin to look to Him for peace in their lives. Pray that God will reveal Himself to them as they search for the truth.
Pray that God will raise up laborers who can effectively minister the Gospel to these Muslims of Kurdish roots.
Ask God to create a hunger in the hearts of the Zaza-Dimli and an openness to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Pray that God will change the hearts of the Turkish governmental leaders so that they will begin to aid the Kurds in practical ways.
Ask God to raise up Christian health-care personnel who can minister to the physical needs of these people.
Pray that God will call Christian teachers to work among the Zaza-Dimli.
Pray that a strong Christian work will be established among the Zaza-Dimli people.