Few of the 73 million Muslims in Turkey have heard the gospel; very few people are evangelical Christians. The situation for Christians is becoming increasingly difficult. Pray for God’s protection over Christians, as they continue to share the Good News of Jesus Christ.
A young married woman recently revealed to our Arabic partner that she had betrayed her husband and wanted to repent. Jesus didn’t condemn the woman caught in adultery, but rescued and saved her. After praying, she gave her life to Christ. Pray for her and others like her.
Sixty million Turks live in 70 countries: huge numbers, but each one is an individual who needs to know Jesus loves them. Pray for the teams living and serving among Turks, especially those working in areas where it is dangerous to share Christianity openly. Pray for God to give these workers faith, courage, wisdom and protection.
Hussein, a Kurdish believer, reports that whenever he shares his testimony with other Kurds, he includes the part of his journey where he heard the voice of Jesus saying, ‘Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.’ Every time, the response is, ‘ba Kurdi?’ (“in Kurdish?”). Hussein’s hearers don’t have a problem with the possibility of modern-day people having dreams and visions from God, or with Jesus’ words, or even with forgiveness. But they need to know if God will really speak to people in Kurdish! Pray for the 35 million Kurds to discover that God knows them as individuals and wants speak to them personally.
Anna, a Christian law student, is under pressure to pay a bribe to pass her end of year exams. Grades are not based on merit but dependent on who offers the highest donation. Church is often blocked on a Sunday by protests or threats – yet she clings to Christ. Through in-depth Bible study and mentorship, the LCF is supporting students like Anna to understand how to be deeply rooted in the word of God to be a witness within their community.
Turkey is the land of Noah, Abraham and Paul, of Mount Ararat, Antioch, Haran, Ephesus, Galatia and the Seven Churches of Revelation. Yet today in this land of 79 million people, 98% are Muslims and the number of Turkish believers is very small. Turkish Christians asked for prayer that God’s will be done in their beloved country and for his kingdom to come there. For many regions have no church and no believers. They ask that the Lord’s hand be with them and that a great number of people will turn to the Lord.
It’s not everyday that you hear a strong declaration of faith in Christ from someone raised in a Muslim majority country. But Hosni contacted the media team via WhatsApp with this urgent request for spiritual support: “I believe that Jesus is God… I need to know more about Jesus and the Bible.” Pray that social media will continue to be a safe outlet for Muslims to seek Jesus.
There is only one local Christian radio station in Turkey and that is based in the capital, Ankara. The station is well respected in the Turkish radio industry and has a growing audience and a deepening influence in the city. The station has recently started a new programme for children which has short stories that draw positive lessons from the Bible. They advertise, “We can know God better, and this programme is an opportunity to better understand Him.” Pray for younger listeners to respond to the station each day and for lives to be changed.
Located just 30 kilometres from the Syrian border, the Protestant Church in Mardin, south-eastern Turkey, recently rang to the praises of a packed congregation some 55 years after persecution and migration forced its closure. The varied worship during the church dedication was a symbol of cooperation between churches of varied ethnic backgrounds. There was exuberant Evangelical praise, unaccompanied Syriac hymns, and worship in Kurdish accompanied by baglama guitar. Praise God for this rebirth, for the incredible witness of such hope and unity where churches have been bombed by so-called Islamic State (IS). Pray for growth and for ongoing service to the Mardin community.
With the increase of civil and religious war, Syrians are fleeing their country and crossing borders into Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon. Workers report that multitudes of refugees are disenchanted with Islam due to the abuses they have experienced at the hands of other Muslims. They describe the eagerness among Syrians to embrace the secure hope that we have in Christ. A team recently reported, “God is moving in an unparalleled way among the Syrian people. As we went from home to home, visiting families we shared the good news of Jesus, explaining how his sacrifice covers all sin, and in every single home we visited, God opened eyes and hearts…every single home yielded fruit. The harvest in this part of the world is ripe and we must pick now. It cannot wait!” Pray for Syrian refugees, that many would have the chance to hear the gospel as workers minister to them with compassion and love. Ask God to send more labourers who will courageously follow Jesus to love refugees and displaced peoples.
Women in the city of Erdogan have been dressing in black and protesting on the streets and on Twitter in response to the recent murder of a woman after she resisted rape. Turkey based Human Rights Association estimates that the number of women killed by men in 2014 was at least 257. Women are resorting to dressing ultra conservatively, carrying pepper spray, feigning phone calls to men, and avoiding being alone with a taxi or bus driver. Pray that the men and women of Turkey will learn of the love of Isa (Jesus) for women, and that they would begin to value one another as God’s beloved creation.
The Bus Station and Soup Day ministries happening in the city of Ankara provide great opportunities to serve in fruitful ways, especially for those on the training programme for national believers run by World Horizons, that they will grow as they learn from the disciplines of service. We need wisdom to find the needs of the people here and how we can meet them. Nobody asked us to feed the poor in the bus station, we were looking for a need to meet. It’s the job of a minister to find the needs that need meeting. Pray with us; we want to see God’s kingdom come in Ankara, His will be done, and working towards a day when there are no more hungry people in the city. Ultimately that can only happen when Jesus comes again, in the meantime we demonstrate the kingdom by feeding the poor.
Just over an hour from Istanbul, Izmit is a bustling, industrial city of nearly half a million people. A small church, originally planted in 1999, had been struggling, particularly as a result of a death threat against the pastor last year. Furthermore, the continual presence of security personnel has not presented a welcoming face to outsiders. In order to show that the church is a warm, welcoming place, the church recently ran International Friendship Days. OM Turkey’s winter outreach sent a team of 12 people, representing 10 nationalities, to help the church with the event. Foreigners are a rarity in Izmit, and visits by tourists are considered a compliment. Outreach participants sang, told stories and performed puppet shows to share about their home countries. Each guest received a gift bag with a Jesus Film and a New Testament. The church nearly doubled its number of visitors after the outreach days. Pray for the church and that those who came to the event will continue to seek the truth.
Many seekers in the Arab world are hungry for the truth of Christ but are held back by fear. The potential backlash from their family and society can keep them from taking concrete steps of faith. However, a combination of media outreach and face-to-face contact has helped to provide a safe place for those exploring the call of Christ. Hamdi’s* desire for fellowship and knowledge won over his fear, and he filled in the contact form on our Arabic ministry website. An Arab Christian volunteer - who used to be a Muslim himself - was given the responsibility to meet up with Hamdi. He had never met anyone with so much hunger to know everything about walking with Christ. He was so encouraged and began meeting regularly to study the Bible together. *Name changed
"In the past, I attended a lot of Islamic groups. But I could not find peace. I am searching for truth. For this reason I want to read the New Testament. Please send me one." This is one of thousands of messages received by the follow-up teams of Kanal Hayat, which broadcasts Christian TV in Turkish, Azeri, Turkmen and now Uzbek. Over 355,000 people responded to the programme during the first half of 2012 - four times more than in 2011 and more than a hundredfold increase on the same period in 2009. Recent months have seen a major increase in people coming to Christ through the broadcasts. The pastor of one Turkish church reports that in one month he has had seven people coming to his church who have found Christ through the Kanal Hayat broadcasts. Praise God for the fruitfulness of this ministry and pray that sufficient funds would be received to maintain it.
“I am a Muslim and a devoutly religious person. But now I am watching Kanal Hayat and on your channel I can say I have heard words about the way of Truth. I want you to send me a New Testament. If the research we are doing shows us the New Testament is completely the word of the Lord and we believe this, we as a group will want to meet you and join you.” Pray for this man, and very many others, who are being challenged by the message of Christ through Kanal Hayat, a Christian satellite TV channel. In April over 800 inquirers contacted the station and over 14,000 programmes were downloaded from the website.
The area which is now Turkey was once the heartland of the Christian Church - churches in Ephesus, Colossae, Laodicea and elsewhere played a significant role in the Apostle Paul's ministry. Sadly, almost all of this was destroyed. Nevertheless, since 1960, when there were only a handful of known evangelical Christians, there has been a significant growth in numbers to several thousands of believers today. Pray for these Christians, who, spread thinly around this huge country, often live out their faith in isolation and must contend with the hostility with which Christianity is held.
Approximately 20% of the 73 million people in Turkey are of Kurdish descent with the remaining 80% identifying themselves as ‘Turkish’, mainly defined by a sense of sharing a common culture and language. After years of difficulties, Turkey has recently seen strong economic growth. EU membership talks were launched in October 2005 although negotiations are expected to take at least ten years. Pray that the various ethnic and religious groups in Turkey would be united in their efforts for an improved and more peaceful society. Also pray that the EU membership application would drive further improvements in human rights for minorities.
Population: 79,814,871 (2017)
Official languages: Turkish
GDP (PPP) per capita: $25,776 (2017 est.)
Life expectancy: 74 years
Religions: 97% Muslim, 3% Agnostic or Atheist, <1% other religions