The Meskhetian Turk people are originally from a part of southern Georgia very close to the Turkish border. However, they were exiled from Georgia in 1944, and then Uzbekistan in 1989, and then went to Krasnodar, Russia. In Krasnodar, they were denied the right to register their residency and became a stateless people resulting in the absence of basic civil and human rights, including the right to employment, social and medical benefits, property ownership, higher education, and legal marriage. During 2005-2006, they began migrating as refugees to the United States.
“Meskhetian” is used to refer to their Georgian identity; “Ahiska Turks” - the most widely used among the population itself - marks their Turkish identity. Lastly, some Ahiska Turks, especially those in the United States, would prefer to be called simply “Turks.”
They preserve their traditional culture by going to mosque every Friday and assembling there for weekly public worship. They also observe their traditional wedding ceremonies.
Meskhetian Turks were settled in up to 60 cities in 20 states in groups of 100 to 200 households. Since first migrating to the United States, they have been highly mobile since they were randomly dispersed under a refugee program. Consequently, they often move to cities where their relatives reside and the city itself offers lower house prices and a favorable labor market.
As an example, more than half of the 130 Meskhetian families settled in Denver, Colorado remigrated to other states and cities. Another example, while the first group settled in Utah consisted of 80 households, today that figure has dropped to 35. Conversely, a Meskhetian group of 150 to 200 households were settled in Dayton, Ohio, but today that figure has exceeded 300. There are other two major states attracting Meskhetian population. One is Arizona, the other is Pennsylvania.
Pray Christians will spend time with Meskhitan Turks ministering to the physical and spiritual needs.
Pray for Christians who are intentionally engaging Meskhitan Turks to have boldness in sharing Christ.
Pray God will penetrate social, cultural, and religious barriers that prevent Meskhitan Turks from understanding and accepting the message of a God who is ultimate yet showed his unconditional love by becoming intimate and living among us through Jesus Christ.
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