Murder trial in Turkey reveals antipathy toward Christians

By March 18, 2009

Turkey (MNN) — The trial in the
brutal Malatya Christian slayings is probing deeper into what could be a "deep
state" conspiracy. 

Two Turkish Christians, Necati
Aydin and Ugur Yuksel, and a German, Tilmann Geske, were tied up and stabbed to
death at the Zirve Publishing Co. offices on April 18, 2007.

The next hearing for
the trial is scheduled for April 13, four days before the second anniversary of
the murders.

The identities of the middlemen
linking the attackers and the alleged masterminds in the murder of the three
Christians in Malatya, Turkey are expected to take clearer focus.

According to Compass Direct, plaintiff
attorneys have called in a heavy slate of witnesses for the next hearing,
ranging from a gendarmerie commander to an Islamic theology instructor at a
nearby university. Mehmet Ulger, the former gendarmerie commander of the
province, and Ruhi Abat, a theology instructor at the local Inonu University,
are among the 10 people expected to testify at the April 13 hearing.

What's been uncovered so far
reveals a deep mistrust Christians in Turkey. The number of Christian believers declined from 22% to
only .2% between 1900 and 2000, and most of these Christians are non-Turkish. The other 99.8% of the Turkish population is Muslim. Very few have
ever heard the Gospel.

Behnan Konutgan with IN Network says
that "identity mistrust" has been a challenge in their ministry.  

There's a saying that goes: "To
be a Turk is to be Muslim; to be Muslim is to be a Turk." Konutgan says often, when they're doing
Christian work, they are asked, "Where are you from?" He often gets an incredulous response when he
tells the person, "I am from here. I am Turkish.'" Their response: "You can't be! You're a Christian." It's a cultural assumption, along with the
assumption that Christianity is a Western religion.

The problem is that many Turks
get their idea of Christianity from Hollywood. With that misconception to confront, Konutgan
says their team of four have to work carefully.

Church Planting and Evangelism
are carried out by a small church that was planted in Istanbul, through
personal visits, discipling church members and building them up in their faith.

The I.N. Network in Turkey also
works with Internet Evangelism — a "door-opening" forum to chat with
those who do not know Christ, sharing with them the truth of the good news of
Jesus. "We have a community center,"
says Konutgan," and through this community center, we want to reach our
people. The community center becomes like an 'embassy' to the people around. We
have a library there, and if anyone wants to have a discussion about the
Gospel, or Christianity, welcome. They come, and we start a
relationship." 

Those who express a deeper
interest are invited to seminars and sent other literature for personal study.

Today, the small Church in Turkey is ready to
release a limited number of its members to become involved in a full-time
ministry.

While evangelism is not
specifically forbidden, many view it with suspicion.  "Pray for the protection of the
Christian family, the protection of our children in schools, and the
breakdown of the anti-Christian spirit in Turkey." 

Their ministry team is hoping to
have 10,000 believers and local churches in 50 provinces
by 2010, as well as a team of Turkish evangelists trained and sent to
other countries with Turkish populations.

 

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