The umbrella organization for all Protestant denominations in Turkey, the Union of Protestant Churches, recently published its “Rights Violations Report 2014”. The document contained a long list of incidents of harassment and discrimination faced by church members throughout Turkey in 2014, including threats to churches, suspected arson attacks, and threats to Christians trying to share their faith.
Whilst most of these threats were at a community level, there were some cases of official harassment, especially of Christians being detained whilst sharing ther faith, an activity which is not banned in Turkish Law, but is widely opposed.
There are currently approximately 50,000 Protestants in Turkey, mostly expatriates from the West. Local Turkish Protestants number only about 5,000, nearly all of whom are converts, mostly from Islam but also from Eastern churches.
One of the biggest problems facing the Turkish church is that of being recognised as legitimate by the government. This is largely because the church is made up of expats and converts, and, therefore, it is seen to be somehow less legitimate in the eyes of the authorities. Local government officials will not support the church or Christians in cases of harassment, as they are worried that if they do so, they will lose their positions and votes in the community.
- Pray for the church in Turkey, for courage in the face of harassment and threats.
- Pray for the Turkish Christians’ witness in their communities, that their “light will shine in the darkness and the darkness will not over come it” (John 1 vs 5)
- Pray for those seeking official recognition for the Turkish church, for wisdom and discernment, and for the government to see the positive impact that the church has on the community.
- Pray that government officials will not see the Church as a threat but as a blessing.
- Pray for protection and encouragement of local Turkish believers.