Elections could be turning point for Turkey

By July 2, 2007

Turkey (MNN) — Parliamentary elections are just a few weeks
away in Turkey, and Christians are concerned. Secularists and fundamentalists
are vying for hearts of the Turkish people.

However, Voice of the Martyrs' Todd Nettleton, who just
returned from Turkey, says these elections could be a turning point for the
country. "There is a significant part of the Turkish population that would
like to see them move toward a more fundamentalist Islamic state. There's also
a significant portion of the population that wants to be sure that Turkey stays
secular, that religion does not become the controlling influence in the country."

According to the Nettleton, it's too close to call which way
Turkey will go. He doesn't expect to see Turkey become an Islamic state like
Iran, but, "I think there is fear that it would take a step toward that
in this election and could then start [Turkey] down that road."

But millions are opposed to that.

Either way, Nettleton says, Christians are caught in the
middle. "If the Islamists gain power, obviously that will mean an increase
in persecution. But the secularists are also opposed to the church. They want
basically no religion. They want the people to be secular. But to be Turkish– in their culture–is to be Muslim.

Persecution has already hit the Christian community. Three
Christians were killed by young radical Muslims in April. Nettleton just
returned from meeting with the survivors. He says, "There was no sense that God had
let them down or that somehow this event happened while God wasn't looking.
There was a very clear sense that this was God's plan."

Immediately after the murders, two of the women went on
national television and publicly forgave the murderers. Nettleton says that spoke
volumes, according to a Muslim columnist. "By offering forgiveness, those
two ladies had done more in that press conference than 1,000 missionaries could
have done in 1,000 years."

In the midst of this tragedy, Nettleton says people are
showing an interest in Christianity. Pray that God will continue to work in the
hearts of the Turkish people.

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