Christian workers in southern Turkey are working tirelessly to help children traumatised by the horrors perpetrated by the ISIL, despite facing danger themselves.
Over the last 5 years, around two million refugees have flooded into Turkey from Syria and Iraq, a number that the UNHCR predicts could reach three million by the end of this year. A Turkish director of an indigenous ministry told Christian Aid Mission that most of the refugees in the area camps are women and children, as about a quarter of the mothers have lost their husbands to war or jihadist atrocities.
“There’s one boy who saw his parents killed in front of him,” said the Turkish director. “His grandma says he was a happy child until that night. Now he wakes up every night screaming. Day by day, he stopped talking. Now he only screams.”
“My heart is bleeding after I see children left disabled because they cannot go to a hospital,” he said. “One baby passed away from not having a blood transfusion. I cannot sleep some nights.”
Workers from the ministry arrive at the crowded camps with 200 boxes of food, clothing and water for people living in several hundred tent. Sadly, the needs of the refugees often far outstrip the ministry’s resources and ability to help.
However, in addition to seeking to provide for the physical needs of the refugees, the ministry also works to share the Gospel. After providing aid one week, they will ask if they can include Bibles in the next week’s box of aid. The answer is always, “Yes.”
So far, the workers have seen 112 people put their faith in Jesus, with 20 being baptised. Because of the dangers present in the camps, the refugees who were baptised have been relocated to three “safe houses” for discipleship, while the others remain secret Christians in the tents.
“We’re risking our lives to share the gospel with them, but we don’t want to risk their lives,” the director added. “Once they receive Jesus Christ, they are in danger of the radicals in the camp. So in one safe house we have 12 family members who received Jesus, but they’re living in one room.”
Sharing the Gospel does not come without risk: aid workers say they are confident that if jihadists in the camps found out they were talking about Jesus in the tents, they would kill them.
“If certain people saw us sharing the gospel, they would tell the radicals,” the director said. “Even the [Turkish] government would stop us – they would be tracking us, ban us from everything, charge us with false crimes, put us in prison.”
- Give thanks for the faithful workers in this ministry in Turkey. Pray for their protection as they serve the refugees and share the Gospel with them. Pray that they will continue to see fruit for their ministry, and many lives finding new hope and healing through Christ.
- Give thanks for those who have put their trust in Jesus. Pray that the witness of their faith, all be it often a silent witness, will draw many others to know the Truth of Jesus, His grace, healing and hope for their lives.
- Pray for the jihadists who are in the camps, that they will have their hearts turned and eyes opened to recognise Jesus Christ as Lord.
- Pray for more workers to heed the call to go to minister amongst refugees, where the fields are ripe for harvest, but the workers are so few.
Luke 10 vs 2: “He said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the labourers are few; therefore ask the Lord of the harvest to send out labourers into his harvest.”