Turkey (MNN) — This week the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee passed a resolution describing the World War I-era mass killings of Armenians as genocide. While this political debacle is hurting U.S./Turkey relations, its impact on Christian ministry in Turkey could be devastating.
While there are many Turkish believers in that region, there's still a need for expatriate believers. IN Network's USA President Rody Rodeheaver says this resolution could have a damaging affect on their work in Turkey. "This kind of an action could overnight have the expats kicked out of the country and have the country more closed. So it's important that we invest through prayer and financially in what God's doing in Turkey."
That means more training for nationals to do all of the work of evangelism, discipleship and church planting.
Rodeheaver says because many Turks view Christianity as an American religion, this will have an impact on Turkish believers. "What this has the potential of doing, is painting a bigger target on the backs of Christians in Turkey."
According to Rodeheaver, that additional persecution could help the church. "Wherever there's been persecution, the church has grown. I really believe that these will be seeds for growth in terms of the church. There will be fallout, but I think in the long run it's God's church, and God will use persecution to bring glory to Himself."
He's also hoping this situation will do something in the United States. "I'm hoping it will stir the hearts of believers in the U.S. to be even more sensitive, more prayerful, more giving to the Turkish church — to see it become all that God wants it to be."
Whatever happens in Congress, Rodeheaver believes this decision in the Foreign Affairs Committee is an indication of where the U.S. is spiritually. "It's a reminder that we're out of touch with our Christian roots, and we have lost some of that moral compass. We've lost the fact that there are many reasons for doing things other than political reasons."
Many believe the Democratic-controlled House passed this resolution to hurt the Iraq war effort. Seventy-percent of the supplies and 30-percent of the fuel shipped to the U.S. troops in Iraq, goes through Turkey. If Turkey reacts negatively, as it's predicted to do, these supply routes to the troops could be closed.