On 7th October, Turkish authorities arrested the pastor of a church in Izmir, along with his wife, and detained the couple on the grounds that they were “threatening national security”.
The pastor, a US citizen, is expected to be deported with his wife later this month. At the time of writing, the pastor remains in prison, although his wife has been released.
Authorities also cancelled the residence permit of an American Christian student, who had been running a ministry to refugees in Ankara while studying at the city’s university, again citing “national security”.
The student has been prevented from re-entering Turkey, even though his wife and children are still in Ankara.
Despite the fact that Turkey, technically, has a secular constitution which guarantees freedom of belief and worship, the President has been initiating a programme of increasing Islamisation in the Muslim-majority country, including expanding the number of Islamic schools and overturning laws that previously banned women in public roles from wearing head coverings.
Christians have also reported an increase in violent attacks and threats against churches and pastors.
Following the attempted coup in July 2016, Erdogan’s government began a decisive crackdown on dissent, in which an estimated 40,000 people have been arrested.
In the immediate aftermath of the failed coup, there were also several recorded attacks on churches, and believers have expressed concern that there is increasing intolerance toward the Christian minority in Turkey.
The government’s National Security Council has recently highlighted the activities of Christian missionaries as being a security threat. When the pastor and his wife were arrested in Izmir, police stated that they posed a security threat because they had carried out “missionary activity and received money from sources abroad.”
- Pray for the Pastor and his wife as they await deportation. Pray for peace and protection of the Holy Spirit to surround them and also the Turkish believers in their Church.
- Pray for the student and his family as they seek for him to be allowed back into Turkey. Pray again, for peace and protection over them, and for the student to be reunited with his family in Ankara.
- Pray for the mission community in Turkey as it faces an uncertain future in the light of the recent crack down on mission activity.
- Pray for the Turkish Church as it also faces growing opposition and harassment. Pray for unity, strength and perseverance of faith, and for the Church to grow strong during these uncertain times. Pray too for many Turkish people to see the hope and certainty that is found only through the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Isaiah 26 vs 3: “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.”