Turkey (MNN) — It was a grisly murder. It was well-planned. Turkish men gained the trust of three Christian men, telling them they were interested in the Christian faith and wanted to learn more. They gained the trust of 3 Christians: Necati Aydin, Ugur Yuksel and Tilmann Geske. The attackers spent a considerable amount of time with the three martyrs. Then they struck, tying the men up and stabbing them dozens of times before slitting their throats.
In the face of these horrible events, Christians are recognizing opportunities to talk about their faith in ways they haven't been able to previously, says Johan Candelin who heads the Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance.
Candelin says there's a deep national sense of confusion in Turkey today. "Muslims are saying that Islam is a religion of peace and harmony. And then they see on television these three Christians who have been killed by a group of young people, and the young people say they have done it in the name of religion."
What's added to their confusion, says Candelin, is the television interviews of the widows. "The widows came out on national television and said, 'We will stay in Turkey. We love Turkey.' And, 'I have forgiven the killers because Jesus has forgiven me.' That has been a strong, strong testimony to the nation of 70 million Muslims."
Many Muslims have come out in support of the Christians who were killed. However, Candelin says, not all. "There are also strong nationalistic groups in Turkey that see the Christians, especially the missionary work they do, as something that will split the Turkish nation."
The World Evangelical Alliance has a three-pronged approach to this crisis. They're trying to get all sides talking and put rumors to rest. Candelin also says a letter has been sent to the Prime Minister. "We have asked him to come out with a statement that missionary activity done by Protestants is not bad for the nation, but good."
The WEA is also doing something for the families. "We have also started a love gift collection for the five children of two of the martyrs who were killed. We're trying to get love gifts together so these children can go to school."