Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Another letter from the church in Turkey

The following comes from Scott Winter, the Middle East Regional coordinator for Foursquare Missions International.
Dear Brothers and Sisters,

Thank you so much for your outpouring of love and support concerning the horrific events in Turkey, where a pastor and two of our church members were brutally tortured and murdered. I would like to give you an update on the situation and to give you an idea of the impact that this is having on the church in Turkey, and thus help you partner in prayer.

The Impact of the Murders

It is like the Virginia Tech shootings in regard to the national attention that these murders are gathering in Turkey’s national press.

Just as 9/11 impacted us profoundly, these murders created a similar sense of shock, vulnerability, and “no return” in the lives of believers in Turkey—shock not just in the deaths themselves, but in the degree of savagery by which the killers tortured and mutilated their victims one by one as the others looked on.

The sense of vulnerability comes from the fact that in Turkey, there are fewer than 2,000 evangelical Christians in a country of over 70 million Muslims and where the media is increasingly fueling anti-Christian sentiment.

The sense of no return comes from the fact that these are the first Christian Protestant martyrs in modern Turkish history. These were not just Christians who were killed for being at the wrong place at the wrong time, but specifically because of their witness. No one is quite sure if this is just the first of similar future attacks.

The Universal Body of Christ Triumphant

As we mourn with those who mourn we know that God is able to take actions that are clearly sinful and in no way part of His will (God would never will for men to carry out such brutality), but in his great power and sovereignty to take evil and turn it into good.

In an act that hit front pages in the largest newspapers in Turkey, one of the widows in a television interview expressed her forgiveness. She did not want revenge, she told reporters. "Oh God, forgive them for they know not what they do." One columnist wrote of this comment, "She said in one sentence what 1000 missionaries in 1000 years could never do."

The funeral was covered by at least five major Turkish news networks. The main message was given by Ihsan Ozbek, our national leader in Turkey, and was a very powerful sermon on our faith and hope in Messiah.

What Can You Do to Help?

Continue to pray for the strength and witness of the church and that as a result of this tragedy many would come to Christ.

The widow of one of the martyrs said, "I want people to pray that the blood of my husband will bring many to Jesus."

The missionaries in Malatya will most likely move out, as their families and children have become publicly identified as targets to the hostile city. The remaining 10 believers are in hiding. Pray for wisdom, that Turkish brothers from other cities will go to lead the leaderless church.

A Turkish pastor requested, "Please pray for the church in Turkey. Don’t pray against persecution, pray for perseverance."
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