Local Missionaries in Turkey
With most of its land mass in the Anatolian peninsula of western Asia and a lesser part on the Balkan peninsula of southeastern Europe, Turkey has a rich cultural and religious history and is a major political force in the region. Though overwhelmingly Muslim at 96.2 percent of the population, most adherents are nominal, as few have knowledge of the Quran, yet fiercely loyal, as Islam is integral to nationalistic fervor.
Another paradox: while Turkey has had a secular government for most of the past century, the current administration of Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been marked by strongly Islamist tendencies. At the same time, the non-religious portion of the population has been growing, with estimates ranging from 3.1 percent to into the double digits. Only 0.04 percent of the population evangelical, according to Joshua Project.
Local missionaries in Turkey report unprecedented openness to the gospel among a growing number of Turkish Muslims and Muslim refugees from Syria and elsewhere. With so few evangelical Christians, however, churches can hardly support evangelists and pastors, and they need donations for their monthly expenses and for tools such as ministry vehicles vital for outreaches to refugee camps.
One effective ministry has planted churches in the Black Sea region, and they need assistance for rental of their worship places. Meantime, the demand for Bibles has increased as Muslim refugees’ disillusionment with Islam drives them to seek answers elsewhere. Local workers request assistance to keep Bibles and New Testaments in stock, as well as an apologetics book written by a native missionary. These books are distributed in refugee camps and prisons, during one-on-one outreach and in stands in front of a church building.
Media and social media are having an increasingly strong impact. One native missionary publishes a magazine that clarifies who Christ is and addresses various topics from a Christian perspective, and another has a radio program with a large audience. The latter also posts teaching and preaching on Internet outlets, reaching a potential audience of millions. Through responses to these media, local missionaries are seeing the prevalence of disillusion with Islam and interest in the person of Christ.
Sources: Joshua Project, Wikipedia
How to Pray for
- Pray for protection of local missionaries, as they are facing increasing threats and attacks in media, on the street and among powers and authorities.
- Pray that Muslims putting their faith in Christ will be protected from family and societal opposition and will find support in Christian community.
- Pray that native leadership will be developed in spite of a national ban on Christian seminaries in the country.
More stories from Turkey
Christians and Muslims are forming relationships that create good will and break down barriers to the gospel through a local ministry’s sports outreach. Competitions are held in several areas, including one where provincial officials attended events and praised workers for creating a spirit of cooperation as they brought together people of different faiths and economic levels for sustainable development.
Native Christian workers are seeing the Lord do amazing things. After much prayer and outreach, workers began a fellowship of Iranian refugees in one town, and in another city, a new home fellowship has begun as 12 people recently put their faith in Christ. Each week after Sunday worship, workers and church members travel to two cities more than 80 miles away to share the gospel and lead services.
The Lord is stirring people’s hearts to know Christ, with 20 to 30 visitors coming to a native ministry’s church services each Sunday and 10 to 20 people picking up New Testaments daily. A daughter church in another town began growing after members began meeting in a more visible location, and 14 people recently made their new faith public.
A university student entered a native ministry’s church building to take a few photos to post on Instagram and spent nearly an hour asking questions about Christianity. She took home a New Testament, read Mark and Matthew, returned for the Sunday worship service and said she finally felt the peace and contentment she had sought. She put her faith in Christ in spite of opposition from her family.
So many people have come to Christ that a Turkish disciple who began assisting the leader of a native ministry has been commissioned to pastor a church that is growing in another town. “Just a few years ago there was only a handful of believers there, but now there are about 120 people coming to worship,” the leader said.
Native Christian workers provided the food and clean water crucial for Syrian refugees even as they listened to cries for pain relievers, medicines, baby formula and clothing. The workers took note of the refugees’ pleas so they could provide the requested items on ensuing visits, thankful for the donations from Christian Aid Mission supporters that enabled them to meet the growing needs.