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Missionary Spotlight-Reaching the Ezids

August 2004

It is estimated that there are 500,000 Ezids in the world today.

Ezids are an ethnic group related to the Kurds, who live in Armenia, Georgia, Iraq, Syria and Turkey. About 50,000 live in the Ararat valley of Armenia, where Hope to People missionaries from the Ukraine have been working for over a year.

The Armenians view Ezids as wild and uneducated. The Ezids in turn eschew civilization and isolate themselves from others, only marrying within their own people.

Many are illiterate and live without electricity, gas or modern communication. Their occupation is subsistence farming and stock-rearing.

Pioneer work

 

Ezids are one of the most ‘unreached’ peoples in the world. They practise the ancient religion of their ancestors, a folk version of Zoroastrianism. Prominent in their pantheon is the god of evil (Anhra-Manyu) and the god of good (Ahura Mazda).

They practise superstitious rites, particularly to placate Anhra-Manyu. Their holy place is the mausoleum of sheikh Ada, at Lalesh, in Iraqi Kurdistan. Its entrance is guarded by the stone statue of a snake.

Ezidism has its holy books – they are Jilyua (Book of revelation) and Mashafi rash (Black book). Its priesthood is divided into several classes, including emirs, sheikhs and fakirs.

As a people, the Ezids are characterised by secretiveness and a love of money. But they do show some interest in the outside world. For example, when Hope to People missionaries first arrived, they were surrounded by Ezid elders asking for news.

Missionary work initially focused on outreach to the children and young people. Unlike the older ones, the young had many questions and listened to the Good News with apparent interest and spiritual hunger.

At the time of writing, there are three emergent Ezid congregations, each with about 70 people, half of whom are children.

Opposition

 

A number have professed faith in Christ, although many are antagonistic. Their sheikhs have threatened the converts, saying that Satan (who they believe manifests himself in the form of a snake) would appear to them at night and put out their children’s eyes.

New Christians have experienced rejection from their relatives, and also nightmares related to their past occult activities.

Artur Marandyan writes: ‘In the settlement of Telek there is one man called Serozh with a wife and two children of 2 years old and 7 months. They accepted Christ two years ago and they are the only Christians in their settlement. 

‘People now want to evict Serozh and his family from the settlement. Of course they cannot do it officially, but they are trying to get Serozh to leave the settlement. People do not communicate with them in the settlement, but frighten and threaten them every day”

Assyrians

 

Recently Artur visited a place called Dvin. Here another small nation lives – 15,000 Assyrians! Many of these have a godless lifestyle, with rampant immorality, drug-addiction and occultism. Please pray both for the Assyrians and the Ezids.

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Armenia