Living with loss: the Church in Turkey
18th April was Good Friday and the seventh anniversary of the murders of Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske in Malatya, Turkey. Hundreds of Turkish believers attended memorial services held at the gravesides of Ugur in Elazig and Tilmann in Malatya. (Necati is buried in Izmir.) The press was noticeably present, particularly at the service held at Ugur’s graveside. Some of Ugur’s relatives were present and there were cordial relations with the Christians. One relative accepted a Turkish New Testament as a gift.
There have been significant consequences following the murders and Turkish believers expressed their thanks for changes in the attitude towards them, in particular a marked reduction in enmity and greater acceptance of their being part of Turkish society.
The press spokesman for the Association of Protestant Churches in Turkey, Soner Tufan, made a statement restating the discomfort that the Christian community in Turkey feels in regard to the long drawn-out trial with no verdict yet reached and the fact that the five men arrested at the scene were released following a change in the law. The statement noted that justice has not been seen to be done. Recall that the five were released in March following a legal change that reduced the maximum period of detention during a trial from ten to five years. Four of the defendants have electronic tagging devices attached, the other must report daily using his house telephone. Following the legal changes, a new judge and jury have been appointed and the next court hearing is scheduled for June.
Despite the frustrations with the judicial process and the sadness associated with the deaths of three Christians, there was a joyful atmosphere for the opening of a church in Malatya following the memorial services. Local residents mingled with Christians at the formal opening.
Turkish Christians following the trial request our continued prayers that:
a. The families and friends of murdered Christians will know the peace and presence of Jesus, especially concerning the trial process
b. The Christian community in Malatya would not fear and that they would continue to show a faithful witness
c. The newly appointed judge and jury will grasp the complexities of the case, and that the current publicity will facilitate the prompt completion of the judicial process with justice being seen to be done, including for those behind the actual perpetrators
d. All those who aided or perpetrated the murders would have a deep conviction about what they have done, and understand the depths of Jesus’ forgiveness
e. All Christians involved will know the Spirit’s enabling, equipping and assisting as they persevere in their efforts to promote justice
f. All judges, other officials, lawyers and journalists involved will hear the gospel of Jesus, and be drawn to the Father’s love, forgiveness and acceptance.
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