Middle East Mission: Outreach to the Kurds-Ezids

May 28, 2010

In the mountainous region of Armenia’s Ararat Valley, a nomadic people-group related to the Kurds live in settlements far removed from the conveniences of modern life and with little knowledge of the outside world.  Primarily farmers, the Kurds-Ezids enter the cities during the winter months.  Following a form of Zoroastrianism, the Ezids worship the god of evil, Melekitaos, who they claim was sent to their particular people.  Spiritual leaders known as sheikhs are considered mediators between God and man and teach the Ezid children that knowledge and literacy are sinful and evoke a spirit of fear and distrust in the Ezid people.

Hope to People first began the ministry to the Kurds-Ezids in 2003.  Artur Marandyan, a native Armenian living in Ukraine and working with Hope to People, heard God’s call to return to his home country to minister to the Ezids, one of the most unreached people groups in the world.  Hope to People approached the Second Presbyterian Church Foundation with a request to fund the endeavor.  Funding would enable Artur to purchase mini-vans for a taxi business and provide support for him and his family as they worked to build relationships and establish a church.  Though the task would be daunting and the success of the ministry uncertain, the Foundation moved forward in faith, agreeing to provide Artur the seed money to begin ministry in Yerevan, Armenia.

In the first year of ministry, Artur and the Hope to People team worked to build relationships among their Muslim Kurdish neighbors in Yerevan and made regular visits to the Ezid settlements where they organized Sunday schools and held events during Christian holidays for the Ezid children.  Unlike their parents and elders, the Ezid children showed an eager interest to learn about Jesus.  As word spread through the villages, Artur and his team began to witness the power of the gospel at work as many of the children’s parents and whole families came to know Christ.  Within a year an Ezid church had been formed in the settlement of Avshar, a summer camp ministry had begun for the Ezid children, and the first conference was held for new believing and unbelieving Ezids desiring to know more about the savior, Jesus.

Today, Artur’s ministry has grown to include two churches in Armenia, two Ezid churches, a church in Iran, a camp ministry attended by more than 400 children and youth, sports clubs, a “Good Samaritan” program, an annual conference, a Bible school and 270 Muslim Kurds, Ezids and Assyrians who proclaim Christ as their Lord.  The Foundation has supported this ministry with over $80,000.

Larry Jensen, Second’s Hope to People partnership liaison, shares, “It has been truly amazing to watch a ‘church’ born in a country and among a people who worship a stone and consider themselves devil worshipers.  The fact that this church was birthed from our work with Hope to People in Ukraine is a specially encouraging blessing and encouragement for the work of Second Presbyterian Foundation.  What an incredible blessing to be a small part in taking the love of Jesus to every tribe and nation!”