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
The Lord has stirred many people to learn about Christ, with interest growing so much in three towns that the leader of a native ministry requested prayer for more workers to teach those attending church services. At the leader’s church, a young Muslim couple made a list of questions and met with him and other leaders, who gave them answers and then prayed for them.
A university student in Turkey often saw the cross on a native ministry’s church building while walking with her boyfriend, and a few months ago – though she was from a strict Muslim family – she suggested they check it out. Her boyfriend of three years, Ahmet Korkmaz*, saw no point in doing so. “There’s nothing in this church,” he told his girlfriend, Beyza Yavuz*.